Getting the Love: In the Bigger Picture

For New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, one journey has come to an end after 20 years. Tom will not return with the Patriots for the 2020 NFL Season. Now that he’s an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his illustrious career, Tom wants to play for another team in the coming season.

Tom’s in uncharted waters. Perhaps, at age 43, he is looking for yet another challenge to reinvent himself. He is smart, is wise. I believe he knows that time is always undefeated, even for the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time).

In his very gracious Instagram post, Tom generously thanked his teammates, coaches, Coach Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and the Kraft Family:

… I couldn’t be the man I am today without the relationships you have allowed me to build with you. I have benefited from all you have given me. I cherished every opportunity I had to be a part of our team, and I love you all for that. Our team has always set a great standard in pro sports and I know it will continue to do just that.

I have nothing but mad love and respect for Tom Brady. Tom inspires with his commitment and dedication in creating his greater-than version. Tom said, “What are you willing to do, and what are you willing to give up to be the best that you can be?”

43-year-old Tom still loves the game of football, his first love. Yeah, Tom has his beautiful kind wife Giselle, and their 3 wonderful children. Yet, for Tom, he’s never more alive, more authentically self-expressed than when he’s playing quarterback. I get that. I get Tom. My first love is Aikido, where I get to be the most me.

I’m not anywhere near the realm of Tom, being the greatest at what he loves to do. Yet, when you love something that much as we do, you want to do it for as long as you can. And you want to have fun doing so. Amen.

Even for work-ethic-minded Tom, the GOAT was something he never envisioned when Coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots drafted him from the University of Michigan as the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Perhaps, the closest thing to GOAT for Tom was being a fan of his childhood Hero Joe Montana, who won 4 Super Bowls.

Over the next 20 years, Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick would appear in 9 Super Bowls, winning 6 Championships. The New England Patriots became the NFL dynasty. Tom’s willingness to give up what it takes to be his best combined with Bill’s coaching acumen, made them the most successful Quarterback – Coach Duo in NFL history. The GOAT NFL Coach Bill Belichick might also be the GOAT NFL General Manager (GM).

Bill is legendary for his precise analysis of talent and monetizing the asset. That has been a key contributor to the Patriots’ success for so many years. Yet, as Shakespeare might say, “Therein may lie the rub…”

Over Tom’s tenure with the Patriots, he consistently restructured his contract so that GM Bill and the Patriots could acquire much-needed talent and still remain under the NFL mandated salary cap. Although Tom is the GOAT Quarterback, he was never the NFL’s highest-paid Quarterback. Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes more than Tom. So does Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford, which is egregious, well at least for me.

So why did Tom really want to leave his beloved Patriots? Well, only Tom knows for sure. ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith had a conversation with his friend Patriots Owner Robert Kraft. According to Robert, Tom wanted to leave. He told Stephen A. that if Tom wanted to stay, he would have worked something out. Robert respected Tom’s wishes. Tom is like a son to him.

Stephen A. hypothesized that Tom finally got tired of Bill’s lack of acknowledgment and just not showing some love. I’m sure that Tom loves himself in the bigger picture. Still, after 20 years together maintaining what appeared to be a strictly professional relationship must have been just weird. Just saying.

Tom, being a gracious man, for sure is grateful for all that Bill bestowed upon him. Yet, I’m guessing if Tom had heard Bill saying something like, “Tom, I’m proud of you, son,” that might have gone a long way. Kind words are powerful, indeed.

Tom and Bill had their glorious 20-year journey of player and coach. I had a profound 25-year journey with Mizukami Sensei as student and sensei. Whereas Tom didn’t get the love, I did. And that might have made all the difference.

Growing up as I did, I got it in my head, “Jon, you’ll never be good enough.” Working with my therapist Lance, I distinguished that voice was really my dad’s, who pretty much terrified me throughout childhood. When I met Mizukami Sensei, he yelled, but it was distinctly different. Sensei saw the greater version of me that I couldn’t see at the time.

Fortunately, Sensei gave me permission to make him the Dad I needed to become the Good Man. Sensei didn’t want me imitating him or anyone else. I was free to be the best version of me. I was just free for the first time in years. Through Sensei’s guidance, I became Yondan, 4th-degree black belt. I so loved this Man. Sensei made me the greater man.

Years ago in Sunday morning Aikido practice while I was training 14-year-old Lukas, Sensei said, “You’re a better teacher than me.” Lukas and I both stopped with our eyes open wide. At the time I think Sensei was way too kind. Yet, I got it. I got his love.

Because Sensei and I were ‘Old School’ Japanese, we never said to each other, “I love you.” Still, we knew we loved each other. Although, that would have been nice to hear. When Sensei passed away about 7 years ago, his wife Alyce, who is like my Mom in Los Angeles, called me up about the funeral service. Alyce said that the services for family only. I got it.

I told Alyce, “I loved Dan.” She said, “He loved you, too.” I cried. That made all the difference for me. Something like that might have made all the difference for Tom. I’m more than just saying.

In the bigger picture, it’s always about love. We should show our love for those we have mad love and respect for. Because, it’s really nice in the bigger, bigger picture to get the love. Just saying.


Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video