Addendum: As a response to many Google searches:
No, Tom Brady does NOT have a son diagnosed with autism.
There is, however, another handsome New England quarterback who does.
His name is Doug Flutie, who in 1984 made one of the most spectacular plays in college football history. While playing for Boston College, he successfully threw a last minute 48 yard pass to win a game against Miami and secure his award of the Heisman Trophy for what is now affectionately dubbed in the New England area as "the Hail Mary Pass."
He had a successful career playing in both the American and Canadian Football Leagues. He also played for awhile in New England as back-up QB to Tom Brady.
Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie have a son, Doug Flutie Jr. who is diagnosed with autism. They created the Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism which has been widely successful at raising funds and creating awareness for those diagnosed with autism.
To learn more visit: www.flutiefoundation.org
And now, back to my original post.....and Tom Brady.
Tom Brady is the Quarterback of the New England Patriots.
On Sunday, he will play one of the most important games of his life.
And while I am, of course, a Bostonian, and a lover of all of our sports teams, to me Tom Brady is something more.
To me, he is a lot like the parent of a child with special needs.
Let me explain.
When folks gather round to talk about the greatest QB in NFL history, it is not unusual to hear names like Brett Favre, Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and Peyton Manning.
There is no mention of Tom Brady.
And yet in terms of winning percentages, Tom Brady has 124 wins in just 161 games. That is a staggering percentage of 77% - and the best by far in NFL history.
To give you some idea of how great that accomplishment is - the second highest winning percentage goes to Peyton Manning - with a winning percentage of 67.8!
As impressive as that may be for a regular season, Brady has nearly the same winning percentage in the postseason (playoffs) - again at a staggering 76 percent. For his career, Brady is 16-5 in the playoffs which ties Joe Montana for the most postseason wins by a starting QB.
That is some kind of consistency.
The Patriots have been in the playoffs all but two of his 11 seasons as starter, in one of those seasons he was hurt and did not play.
Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls than Favre, Unitas and Marino combined!
This will be Tom Brady's fifth Super Bowl as a starting quarterback, which will tie John Elway for the most starts in the "Big Game".
Not too shabby a performance for the 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft!
And yet, he is rarely mentioned in discussions of quarterback greatness.
To me, he is like a parent of a special needs child, he is invisible.
He stands right in front of us day after day, getting the job done (in spectacular fashion) and yet he goes unnoticed.
He leads his team with quiet and humble determination.
He ignores thoughtless and ignorant comments.
He is honest, admitting when he's had an off-day.
He does not seek the spotlight, instead he supports and encourages others.
He works hard every single day, setting a good example and focusing on the little things that will get his team into the end zone.
He does not play for fame or fortune.
(He converted $5.28 million of his 2007 base salary into a signing bonus that was spread out over the remaining portion of his contract so that it could free up cap room to absorb Randy Moss' incoming contract.) What athlete does things like this for others?
He works hard to see his beloved team succeed, to get them to where they all deserve to be.
Oh, and not to mention:
Tom Brady will be heading up "Team Tom Brady" in the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannisport, MA on June 2, 2012, to raise funds and awareness for Best Buddies, a charity dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (http://www.bestbuddies.org/).
And so, it is Tom Brady's quiet greatness that reminds me of all of us parents who have children diagnosed with special needs.
If you were to ask Tom Brady how he feels about his invisibility, his lack of colorfulness, his under-recognized "superstar" status.....like a parent of a child with special needs, he would probably tell you that he prefers it this way.
And so, in honor of Tom Brady and all of my fellow special needs parents....
Good Luck at Super Bowl XLVI!
I can't think of a more deserving man!