An Open Letter to Tom Brady

An Open Letter to Tom Brady


Congratulations! And, unfortunately, I'm so sorry.

Congratulations on winning your 5th Super Bowl—and practically assuring your place as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. You’ve taken winning and leadership culture and football excellence and put them on display in a way rarely seen in sports.

And I'm so sorry for the fight against cancer your mom is enduring. I’ve never had a parent with cancer—and certainly not had to handle a massive public knowing our family business—but I would guess this must be one of the hardest things you’ve faced as a son.

Honestly, my question is, I wonder how you are doing? How are you handling such high highs and low lows?

Both of these moments are so intense and at the same time so vulnerable: the relief and release of winning another championship in front of over 100 million people while being with family and friends and a mother struggling with illness. That’s a lot.

In fact, as the post-game celebration unfolded, I found myself really wondering whether things have changed for you since the 60 Minutes interview you did after winning your third championship? After winning you basically said, “Is that it? Surely there has to be more to life than this?”

I’ve never forgotten your interview after all these years because it really got my attention and resonated with me.

Since those comments on 60 Minutes were a decade ago, you’ve undoubtedly grown in numerous ways, especially being married and having a family of your own.

But I wonder if deep down there is still the wondering, even after two more Super Bowl wins, that there has to be something else out there and that this can't be all there is.

I won't pretend to know what it's like to win a Super Bowl, but I have my own "Lombardi Trophies" I chase after, and I hang around people who talk about these things all the time.

I know what it's like to strive and strive, and finally get it, only to realize it's not all I imagined it be. Oh, it’s exciting and fulfilling on some levels, but there's always still an emptiness that comes with it.

So I strive and strive some more, perhaps attaining my goal over and over, and each time there's a letdown in the accomplishment, a realization that the filling is only temporary.

I’ve learned that this is because nothing created can fill us. Ultimately, only the Creator can satisfy.

Centuries ago a philosopher said that there's a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill. No amount of trophies or awards or money, no level of status or power, not the deepest pleasure or most intimate sex, can truly satisfy us.

There's always an emptiness in these things because any created thing was merely meant to be a shadow, an appetizer leading to the One who created them.

The Bible says in Psalm 16 that there is "fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore" in God's presence.

The greatest amount (fullness) for the longest possible time (forevermore).

Tom, those trophies don't satisfy or give lasting hope because they are temporary. So, I pray your hope isn't there.

In the face of whatever life challenges you experience that the world never hears about combined with those that get publicized—including your mom now battling cancer—I wouldn't be surprised to hear that you know a championship can't ultimately give you what you need.

A Super Bowl championship is great, the pinnacle of the sport—and arguably one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played!—but your mom has cancer for goodness sake!

I’m guessing you might feel that as great as that title is, what comparison does it have against the value of your mom's life? I believe you intuitively must feel something like that, just like I believe any of us would if we were in your shoes.

I also won't pretend to know what it's like to watch a parent battle cancer and not be able to do much about it. I cannot imagine nor understand through experience, and as I said earlier, I am so very sorry.

But I would understand if your emotions are all over the place: such elation after winning, such despair after a doctor's report, the inevitable talk within a few days of repeating, the constant expectations of others who don’t really know you. That's human and don't let anyone tell you that you have to be happy for weeks after winning a world championship when your mom is sick and whatever else is going on behind the scenes.

It's also human to put our hope in something.

So if I could tread into some intimate space with a question, I wonder where is your hope? If a trophy is off the table, already having proven multiple times that it can fulfill at some level but not in the most crucial areas of our soul—and certainly not when your mom has cancer—then where do you find hope?

May I offer what I believe to be the only true source of both lasting hope and real contentment?

It’s found not in any physician on earth but in the Great Physician.

Not in any cure for cancer but in the Cure for our souls.

And not in any magic genie lamp or rabbit's foot but in a God who somehow takes bad things and turns them for our ultimate good, who brings life out of death.

Tom, I don't know if your mom will beat cancer. I pray she will—I really do.

But even our dear moms will all one day leave this earth. And while God is described as Healer in the Bible—and a Healer He is—our physical healing is not our greatest need, not even to overcome cancer.

I don’t want to get preachy, but we can’t talk about hope and contentment without dropping some uncomfortable truth.

Our greatest need is to have the sin—the breaking of God's law—that we've committed dealt with. And it'd be nice if that didn't have to involve us paying the penalty for offending the Holy Creator God of the universe: eternal separation from Him.

Because the end result of uncured cancer is physical death. But the end result of our uncured sin—cancer of the soul—is spiritual death.

Enter Jesus.

Jesus was the One who lived a perfect life, never sinning, and earning the perfect righteousness necessary to stand before that Holy God on our behalf.

But He also took the punishment of our sin, the spiritual death owed to us, and died in our place on the Cross. Because He Himself didn't deserve to die, He could rightfully, on His own merit, be raised to life, extending us the offer of forgiveness for our sins and to receive His righteousness credited to our account.

By His sacrifice and resurrection, our sin can be dealt with without us paying for it!

This is where I—and so many others who’ve been set free from the burden of striving—have placed my hope. That one day, should even the worst come, nothing can be worse than the execution of God's only Son, Jesus.

And even in that, the lowest of lows, a death, came the highest of highs, the conquering of death and offer of eternal life to all who trust in Jesus,.

Tom, I pray that in the midst of it all this is where you’ll place your hope, in the One who is called "the Resurrection and the Life."

Not to make cancer any easier. I'm not sure that's possible or even the point. Nor to suggest that there isn’t some value in a wife and family and positive attention and celebrating championships.

They just can’t satisfy in the way they promise they will.

What we need is to know that one day life can come out of death. And that it's possible to hold both high highs and low lows in each hand at the same time while ultimately looking to the One who allowed them both and placing our trust in Him.

It’s what I’d hoped someone would share with you after your original 60 Minutes interview, and what I still hope can be true for you now.