You Want to Argue Football With Gisele?

Comments from Tom Brady’s supermodel spouse spark an uproar in the NFL—because they point to an uncomfortable truth

she said her husband, the New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady, had suffered a concussion during his team’s 2016 Super Bowl-winning season. She said more than that, really: Bündchen appeared to suggest that Brady had suffered concussions regularly over the course of his career.

“He had a concussion last year,” Bündchen said. “I mean, he has concussions pretty much…we don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions.”

.. but whom do you believe the most?

Yeah, I thought so.

Bündchen’s absolutely the rational voice here. Of course she is. What incentive does she possibly have to misrepresent her husband’s health? To Charlie Rose, during, of all things, an interview about a friend’s book on global warming?

.. it is hard to envision a more charmed-looking life than Brady’s and Bündchen’s. Brady is one of the greatest NFL players of all time, a five-time Super Bowl winner, a luxury pitchman who just signed a deal to endorse Aston-Martins. Bündchen is probably even more famous around the world

.. the aftermath almost never falls to the league, the team, or the representation. It is the family—and often, very specifically, the spouse—who are the front lines

.. Football is a volatile workplace in which most contracts aren’t guaranteed—teams claim they could not afford to do guaranteed deals in a sport where injury is common. How does that not incentivize the masking of injuries?

.. A few years ago, Brady’s father Tom Sr. gave an interview in which he said he’d be “very hesitant” to let his son play were he a kid coming up today

“Concussion” Makes a Christian Argument Against Football

Last January, after the Seattle Seahawks staged an improbable comeback to beat the Green Bay Packers in the N.F.C. Championship Game, the Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson told the football writer Peter King, “That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special.” Wilson’s statement was a next-level version of the “all thanks to God” quotes that players regularly give to sideline reporters in the afterglow of a big win—God had not merely given him the strength to do the things he had practiced all his life but, in Wilson’s telling, had arranged the events of the game to provide for the greatest amount of narrative satisfaction. A day later, the Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, during a radio interview, offered a competing view. “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,” he said. “He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”

The Lord, of course, works in mysterious ways. Two weeks later, following the Seahawks’ stunning loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, Wilson said that God had spoken to him in the moment after he threw the interception that lost his team the game, and explained that he had ordered the misfortune as a test. (I suspect that the Patriots’ cornerback, Malcolm Butler, has a different take on the event’s authorship.) Then, this past September, after the Packers beat the Seahawks in a regular-season rematch, Rodgers smirked during his post-game press conference and said, clearly trolling Wilson, “I think God was a Packer fan tonight.”

.. Omalu thought that the N.F.L. would be grateful to be alerted about a potential health crisis facing its players and would be eager to collaborate on further study; instead, three doctors employed by the league, part of a committee that had commissioned studies finding no clear links between football and lasting brain damage, wrote a letter to the journal questioning Omalu’s methodology and findings, and demanding that the paper be retracted.

.. Omalu’s boss at the Allegheny County coroner’s office explains the stakes of his discovery by saying that Omalu has gone to war with a corporation that owns an entire day of the week, a day which, he adds, used to belong to the church. In this way, football is presented as America’s secular religion, one that has replaced traditional faith with hedonistic entertainment.

.. But as a polemic, this evangelical argument is interesting and novel, suggesting that football’s dangers are not merely physical, but spiritual as well. This might be the movie’s most subversive message: not that the N.F.L. stood in the way of scientific research about the health of its players but that it occupies a false place within the religious and patriotic beliefs of so many of its fans, whose Sabbath routines are timed perfectly so that Sunday service ends just in time for kickoff.