"Don't you live for that moment right there?"
That's how Super Bowl XLIV ended, with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason commenting on the scene of the night: the MVP, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, holding his young son in his arms, and with his wife looking on, sharing a momentous personal, cultural and historic moment with his family.
It's an image America needed. "Given that about one-in-four American boys are living apart from their dads at any one point in time, it is great to see a Super Bowl champion with his wife and son, and to see that this win is all the bigger for him for being shared with his son," Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, tells me.
Elizabeth Marquardt, author of "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce," and director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, isn't a football follower, but she liked what she saw on the field. Marquardt noticed "how physically familiar" Brees and his son seemed with each other. "It bespoke an intimacy of real time spent together." She adds: "Even in a football stadium of screaming fans the toddler boy didn't look anxious. He knew he was safe. He was with dad."
The image is all the more beautiful if you realize that Brees, who joined the New Orleans Saints in 2006, has said that he and his wife believe that they were called to New Orleans, and have raised money for and been a part of the post-Katrina reconstruction. Clearly, Brees takes the name of the team he leads seriously.
Shortly after the Saints' victory, New Orleans native and pro-life attorney at the Bioethics Defense Fund Dorinda Bordlee set up "The Baby Brees Respect Life Fan Club" on Facebook in gratitude for the image. "The heart-melting photo of Drew Brees lifting his baby boy into the air conveyed that the gift of human life and love is even more valuable than lifting the Lombardi Super Bowl trophy. And that's saying quite a bit," noted Bordlee, a long-suffering Saints fan. She's most moved by the men who have subsequently posted on her page. She points to one who wrote: "This picture is just great! It sends a beautiful message to all men that family is the most important thing we all have." Another posted, directing his note to Brees: "Thanks for being the kind of athlete/role model my 9 & 11 year old boys need! They love the game, but also realize God and respect for life is so much bigger . . . you just proved it!"