On Monday night, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record to become the all-time leading passer in NFL history – and on a touchdown pass no less. The game was stopped while Brees celebrated with his teammates and coaches before running over to his family waiting on the sidelines. The headlines read, “Drew Brees Gives Inspiring Talk To His Kids After New NFL Record”.
Except he didn’t give an inspiring talk to his kids. He gave it to his three sons as his daughter watched, held in the arms of her mother, “Hey boy, hey boys!” Brees exclaimed. “You can accomplish anything in life that you want to work for, right?”
I was stunned when I first saw it, unable to believe how rampant sexism still is in this sensitive climate – not just in sports, but the media too. I can’t believe no one has picked up on it. If you read the comments on the NFL post there is much congratulatory butt-slapping, but no one calling out his omission. Even Hoda Kotb was giddy yesterday morning, a professed New Orleans fan, as she congratulated Brees on The Today Show wearing his number 12 jersey. How could she not have noticed, occupying in the seat made vacant by Matt Lauer?
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Drew Brees is considered a hero, not just for breaking this record, but bringing New Orleans a Super Bowl victory in 2010 after Hurricane Katrina. I take nothing away from his achievements on the field, but I’ve watched the clip over and over again, and it’s painful to see 4-year-old Rylen reach out for her dad while he bends down to hug his boys Baylen, 9, Bowen, 7, Callen, 6. She quickly pulls her hand away as she watches. What was the message Brees sent his daughter? Her brothers can do anything in life they work for it, but she can sit on the sidelines?
If you search Twitter, “Drew Brees daughter”, thankfully my sentiments are shared. I’m glad I’m not the only one to have noticed — to be shocked and saddened. Drew Brees is a tremendous athlete and breaking this record is an incredible accomplishment. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be impressed given how he chose to celebrate.
So on this International Day of the Girl, I say to Rylen Brees and every other little girl, “YOU can accomplish anything in life that you work for!”