Two weeks ago, the New England Patriots won Superbowl LIII and though the battle on the gridiron was hotly contested, behind the scenes was a much more powerful battle to see who would have the upper hand: the cynical powers of darkness or the clean-cut powers of light.
Much ado was made when Patriots wide-receiver Julian Edelman was selected the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), making him the first player with Jewish roots to earn the title. Though not technically Jewish (his father was Jewish but his mother was not) Edelman strongly identifies as a Jew. After the deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Edelman proudly displayed his cleats that he had inscribed with the Hebrew name of the synagogue, a Jewish Star, and the words, “Stronger than Hate.” In 2015, Edelman visited Israel, making a stop at the Western Wall.
“Exploring my heritage is something I started in the past few years and seeing Israel for the first time, really getting a sense of its history and culture, I now truly understand why it’s so special,” he said in a news release.
His commitment to football and Judaism has been officially recognized by Jews. On the American Jewish Historical Society list of the 10 best Jewish football players, Edelman was ranked fourth.
Edelman is also widely praised as a dedicated father and all around good guy. In contrast to Edelman’s clean-cut approach to life stands his teammate, the quarterback who feeds him the passes, Tom Brady. At a shave-for-charity event four days after the game, Brady was interviewed while getting a staged shave from a barber at the Gillette’s World Shaving Headquarters in South Boston.
Brady was asked if he had any rituals or superstitions that he used to help him win. He said that he relied on the rituals performed by his Brazilian supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen.
“I’ve learned a lot from my wife over the years,” Brady said while laying down in a barber’s chair. “She’s about the power of intention, believing that things are really going to happen.”
Brady said that his wife prepared a little “altar” before his games.
“She always makes a little altar for me at the game because she just wills it so much.”
“I have these little special stones, healing stones, protection stones and she has me wear a necklace, take these drops she makes, say all these mantras,” Brady told the interviewer. “At first I was, ‘This was kind of crazy,’ but about four years ago, we were playing the Seahawks, and she said, ‘You better listen to me, this is your year, but this is all the things you’re going to have to do to win and I did all those things and my God, it worked.”
He also turns to her for predictions about the upcoming seasons.
“I listen to her. Right after the game, she said, ‘See I did a lot of work. You do your work, I do mine!'”
Brady finished the story recounting one last thing his wife said to him. “She said, ‘You’re lucky you married a witch, I’m just a good witch!'”