The GOAT and The Kiss

Shaun Emerson Blog 12 Comments

I grew up outside of Boston, but I have now been in the Midwest for almost 20 years longer than I was in New England. And despite my move, I have maintained my allegiance to Boston’s sports franchises. A loyalty that hasn’t been hard at all with the crazy winning. The last 20 years have been ridiculous: 1 Celtics championship, 1 for the Bruins, 4 for the Red Sox and 6 Super Bowl wins for the Patriots.

The Pats, led by Tom Brady, the Greatest of All Time (GOAT), have dominated the NFL over this time. I could list the numbers but that might be a little over the top, right? From the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Brady has orchestrated success like no other QB before. His football heroics are only part of the story. He would seem to have it all: good looks, wealth, super model wife. A man’s man. 

But in our society, achievement and fame can lead to scrutiny and detractors (you might be one!). Deflategate? Trump? Avocado ice cream? These are just a few of the slights used in an attempt to impinge his character.

Oh, yeah, “they” also like to bring up that he kisses his dad… and his son…on the lips. 

In 2018, on an episode of his weekly Facebook show Tom vs. Time, folks lost their mind over The Kiss. In the video, while Tom Brady is receiving a massage at his home, his eleven-year-old son, John, comes in to ask if he can check his fantasy team. He kisses his father and Tom says ‘that was just a peck.’ John returns and kisses his father on the mouth for a few seconds, before wiping his mouth and turning the conversation back to football. You can watch it below.

How does that feel to you? When my kids (2 girls and a boy) saw it, they were creeped out. They couldn’t imagine kissing me on the lips (hmmmm…). And I must admit, while it doesn’t come across to me in any way sexual, it does feel unnatural. And as soon as I write that I think why would that display of affection be “unnatural” and not beautiful?

I give Tom the benefit of the doubt (but of course I would, right?) and the kiss is an act of love for his child. He kisses his daughters on the lips during the show and there is no uproar, no freaking out. Why is a “long” kiss different than a long hug?

In the end, I chock the shock up to the fact that the kiss isn’t consistent with the masculine script we all learn to follow. A script that inhibits men emotionally and in so many other ways. Not the GOAT.

Would love to hear what you think.

Comments 12

  1. My Dad kissed all of us on the lips as kids-3 boys and 2 girls. I kissed my 3 boys on the lips until 4 or 5 years ago. One still wants to, but I avoid it and turn away at the last moment. I’m not entirely sure why..

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  2. My initial reaction to this video is extreme discomfort. This was a good opportunity to lean into it and ask why I felt so uneasy about it and not just judge it and reach a verdict without an ounce of reflection. Definitely social conditioning at work. Thanks for the opportunity for growth Shaun. Oh and go chiefs!!!

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  3. I have always received kisses from my mom on the lips but never my dad. As a parent of both a boy (4) an a girl (3) I still kiss them on lips and they will kiss me on the lips as well. I have always shown affection to my family through physical touch so I personally don’t feel anything wrong with this but as my children are their own beings when/if the time comes that they are no longer comfortable with kisses on the lips then I will respect their new boundaries.

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  4. Today is Christmas and a fitting day to read and respond to this post. Christmas means many things to different people. To most Christians, it celebrates the Word of God becoming flesh.

    I ached some when I watched the Tom Brady video. I’m a married man with four grown children. Still, I ached when I saw a man fearless enough to express such a countercultural intimacy in the flesh. Would that I had grown up that way, or my own children, or that my friendships had enjoyed such freedom!

    Our culture often emasculates men, but not always in the way many imagine. Sometimes, it’s effects are seen in men’s passivity and impotence. Other times, though, it’s seen in a compensatory hyper-masculinity. In an effort to save the manliness of their member down below, many men cut their hearts out. To restore the masculinity they imagine they’ve lost, they trade more than a little of their humanity.

    This Christmas I’m reminded of a truth celebrated in the season. The best ideas, the best words, the best feelings—they should enjoy the freedom of becoming flesh. Were men bold enough to use their bodies to express their love more often, there might be more peace on earth.

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