"There is something so beautiful about seeing a father, at the height of his professional career, with the whole world cheering him, blocking all that out to share that moment with his son," Raymond Arroyo, a news anchor for the Catholic television network EWTN, himself a New Orleans native and father of sons, tells me. "One can imagine what that boy will think years from now when he sees himself with those ear protectors, in his father's arms at the end of the Super Bowl."
And in surveying reactions to the winning image, I note: Men tend to focus more often than not on the son. Jerome Ritcher observes: "From the perspective of the son there are fewer things than to be held and loved by your father, so if I was to use that picture of Brees with his son I would relate it from the perspective of the son. Every man was once a son and they all want to be approved by their father and Brees is giving this to his son by showing he is most important in his life." Besides being a son, husband, father, and football man, Richter, a Catholic high-school teacher in Bismarck, N.D., runs Knights of Virtue, a group for teenage boys focused on living virtuously, mastering passions, and being a hero in the world where they live.
Back in 1996, the late sociologist Elizabeth Fox-Genovese wrote in National Review that "fatherhood -- good fatherhood -- grounds the well-being of children; its absence painfully cripples them and all of us. Whatever we may like to believe, neither mothers alone nor the village can substitute, and the personal failings of individual men inescapably result in 'a major public crisis.'"
Fatherhood still may be in a state of crisis, but we're fighting for it, one devoted dad at a time. And Drew Brees is the latest poster boy. Like all of us, he's only human, but there's great virtue in both bucking him up and celebrating the beautiful Super Bowl moment that he shared with his wife, son and all of us. No paid ad time. No controversy. Only love.