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Tom Brady, COVID Heretic

The 7-time champion's mask-less face draws ire.
Super Bowl LV

In what’s starting to feel like the February liturgical rite of our civil religion, Tom Brady is a Super Bowl champion yet again, for the seventh time. Apparently, though, he’s also a heretic as it pertains to another tenet of our secular faith, the Good of the COVID Mask:

(Worse yet, as The Independent  reports in its coverage of Brady’s naked face under the headline of “Tom Brady is No Hero,” the Super Bowl MVP has even committed the cardinal sin of being a “one-time Trump supporter.”)

The whole issue of masks on NFL sidelines is so blatantly ridiculous. The NFL deserves credit for making it through a full season during COVID with a more or less standard schedule (apologies to the Broncos and wide receiver quarterback Kendall Hinton). The league did so by implementing incredibly stringent COVID precautions: contact tracing, frequent testing, temperature scans, etc. What, then, is the point of mandatory masks in such a controlled environment?

And more to the point, did the NFL somehow miraculously contain COVID to the sidelines? Does the risk of transmission somehow disappear in the field of play, when players are tackling and sweating and spitting all over?

A real insanity has taken hold on the issue of COVID. The severity of the virus certainly shouldn’t be downplayed; it’s a serious illness that has affected—and taken—too many lives. But one year into this thing, it’s long past time to factor competing goods into the shutdown narrative.

For a look at those competing goods, and the effect this mask paranoia is inflicting on our society, I commend this excellent piece, “The Great COVID Class War,” published in The Bellows, a leftist publication on labor populism:

Masks have become a potent symbol of both physical purity and mutual mistrust. Our fantasy of a sanitized and deathless society has created a world where the home is a prison and friends and family are a health hazard….We have a limited window of time to reclaim the things that make life worth living: family, community, cultural heritage, the social sphere, public institutions, common spaces, and free movement. That window may be closing quickly, but it is not fully closed yet.

The Tom Brady mask episode is a clear example of that window closing. I’m no fan of Brady, and am quick to point out episodes like Spygate and Deflategate as tarnish on his (otherwise indisputable) status as the GOAT. (I’m even less enamored of him now that he’s in the NFC and blocked my Packers’ Super Bowl run.) But on this latest “Maskgate,” if you will, I find myself having to come to the strong defense of TB12. Maybe that’s why it annoys me so much.



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