The insider’s information to Tremendous Bowl LV’s Jewish tales and subplots
When the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers competed at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida on Sunday night, there were plenty of juicy storylines for fans to bite into.
The Buc’s 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady (the greatest person who has ever lived on the planet in this writer’s humble opinion) played on his 10th Super Bowl record and eventually won his seventh.
The NFL legend played against a young superstar who could one day challenge Brady’s legacy, 25-year-old Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes.
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In addition, the Bucs were the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
In addition to the stories that sports fans around the world are discussing, there are a number of subplots to the big game that relate to Jews and Israel.
Brady wasn’t the only one making history in Tampa on Sunday night. The game had an unprecedented number of women in field roles as referees, coaches and coaches.
One of them is a graduate of a Jewish day school.
Carly Helfand, a scouting assistant with the Bucs, attended Gerrard Berman Day School in Oakland, New Jersey, and graduated from middle school in 2010.
While in college, Helfand interned with the Philadelphia Eagles and after graduating worked for the University of Pennsylvania’s soccer program. She joined the Bucs organization in June 2019 where she travels the country watching top college players.
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Tom Brady, sniper
Brady spent his entire career up to that year with the New England Patriots, owned by Robert Kraft, a proud Zionist and donor to numerous Jewish and Israeli causes. Kraft and his late wife Myra regularly brought Patriots players and the NFL Hall of Famers to Israel.
In 2006 they brought young superstar quarterback Brady to the country for his first visit, along with CBS host Sara Underwood and Joseph Campanelli, then CEO of Sovereign Bank.
The participants of the trip say that Brady is visibly moved by what he has seen and experienced. Barry Shrage, a close friend of the Kraft family and president of Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, recalls a Chabad rabbi who was close to Myra and who led the group’s Friday night dinner. “Everyone started dancing and Tom soon joined in. Seeing Tom Brady dancing in circles with us and singing with us was really special.”
“I think he was very moved.”
The Krafts also took Brady to an IDF infantry base. The Boston-born Netzach Yehuda battalion soldier Avi Sandler completed basic training in the Jordan Valley. He had just completed a week of field practice and a long walk back to base. He was told to put on his beret and report to the assistant company commander’s office.
“I was nervous because at that point you only went to his office if he was in trouble,” said Sandler. “When I walked into the office and saluted, I saw two other soldiers of American background who were already seated. We have been told that a group of important Americans will visit the base tomorrow and that we have been selected to represent them. “
Fellow soldier Label Garelik was sitting in his room when his sergeant walked in and told him that some Americans were visiting who wanted to speak to soldiers who had moved to Israel from the United States.
“Some Robert Kraft or something.”
The next morning the soldiers were taken to the shooting range where a weapons demonstration was being prepared for the visitors.
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and quarterback Tom Brady visit Nahal Haredi soldier Avi Sandler at his base during a 2006 trip to Israel (courtesy).
“By the way, my friend says quietly, ‘Avi, isn’t that Tom Brady?'” Sandler recalled. “Except for Mr. Kraft, we had no idea who was visiting. I replied, ‘It looks like him, but what would he do here?’ “
“‘We turned to Brady quickly and said,’ Are you Tom Brady? ‘”
‘Yes,’ he replied. Our mouths fell down. “
One of the soldiers asked Brady if he would like to play soccer with them.
“I don’t mix business and pleasure,” joked Brady.
The soldiers demonstrated the various weapons that were lined up on the route. Brady shouted “Damn it!” when the machine gun fired.
The Patriots quarterback even practiced some targets at the base shooting range. “I was concerned about the recoil,” Shrage recalled. “We didn’t need Brady hurting his shoulder and shooting a rifle.”
Other New Englanders had the opportunity to meet Brady at dinner on Saturday night at the Israel Museum.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady visits the Israel Museum, 2006 (Photo credit: Courtesy)
“He said he really enjoyed hummus,” recalled Israeli attorney Hillel Katchen, a law student at Bar Ilan at the time. “He seemed really down to earth.” He said he enjoyed Tel Aviv more because no one there recognized him. “
It’s not clear if it was the journey that inspired Brady, but he has a large menorah in his Brookline home. “We’re not Jews,” he told the New York Times in 2015. “But I think we like anything … I don’t know what I believe. I think there is a belief system, I’m just not sure what it is. “
Brady probably isn’t the only one in his family who has a menorah at home. His sister Julie married former Boston Red Sox Jewish star Kevin Youkilis in 2012.
From Israel’s Birthright to the NFL
Brady is well protected by Ali Marpet, 27, who plays the left guard. Marpet has been particularly strong this season, not allowing a sack all year round. He is the son of a musician mother and the father of a fashion videographer from the New York suburb of Westchester County who hosted Shabbat gatherings for family and friends.
He attended Hobart College and arrived unannounced at the school of around 2,400 students in New York State. At the Division III level, meaning the colleges don’t give athletic scholarships and their players almost never reach the pros, Marpet grew to over £ 300, combining his athletic skills and strong work ethic to make himself a true NFL candidate do. The Bucs selected him in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guardian Ali Marpet, 74, steps on the sideline during the second half of an NFL soccer game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, December 20, 2020 in Atlanta. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 31-27. (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Marpet, an alumnus of Birthright Israel, has had a stellar career and signed a five-year $ 54 million deal with half the guaranteed money a few years ago.
“There were a lot of things along the way that had to be almost perfectly coordinated for me to end up where I am,” Marpet told the New York Post. “There wasn’t a moment that made the difference. It was a collection of moments. I’m going to Hobart instead of trying to move on to a DI AA school or maybe another D-III school that doesn’t take football that seriously [as Hobart]. There were so many ways that could have worked. ”
His father Bill said his son avoided the limelight.
“He does not read anything that has been written about him,” said the elder Marpet in the Post story. “He just does what he does.”
Should Marpet’s Bucs prevail, it would be the second Super Bowl championship for the Glazer family who own the team. Tampa won the franchise’s only NFL crown in 2003.
Malcolm Glazer, a Jewish billionaire, bought the team for $ 192 million in 1995, which was a league record at the time. It’s worth about $ 2 billion now.
Glazer died in 2014 and his children have kept the property and run the business – apparently he brought Brady with him from his stellar career as a New England Patriots along with a number of talented veterans and young players.
Food, Family, and Faith
The Jewish NFL soccer players and brothers Geoff (l) and Mitchell (r) Schwartz present soccer shirts with his nickname to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his office in Jerusalem on February 19, 2018. (Judah Ari Gross / Times of Israel)
The Chiefs also have a massive Jewish lineman. Mitchell Schwartz, 31, is in its ninth season. But unlike Marpet, he didn’t protect his superstar quarterback on Sunday.
The Pro Bowler has been sidelined with a back injury since October and is likely to be sidelined for Super Bowl LV if the Chiefs want to keep the title they won last season with a 31:20 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
The native Southern California is not afraid to express his Jewishness. Schwartz and his brother Geoff, who was also an attacking lineman in the NFL, wrote a book about soccer and their lives in 2016 called “Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Soccer, Food, Family and Faith”. They were the first Jewish brothers to play professional football since Ralph and Arnold Horween in 1923.
The brothers attended a Conservative ward in their hometown of West Los Angeles. In fact, Schwartz didn’t start playing soccer until ninth grade, partly because his parents – Olivia Goodkin, a lawyer, and Lee Schwartz, a business consultant – didn’t want the game to interfere with his bar mitzvah preparation.
“I started to worry that they might get injured – but then I realized it was the other players I should be worried about,” Goodkin said in the book, as the boys were over 1 at the time , 83 meters tall. “They were like trucks hitting small cars. And I got the feeling that maybe this was her destiny. “
The brothers also visited Israel on a public relations tour organized in 2018 by a pro-Israel group as part of a delegation of NFL players. Their trip included several stops in settlements in the West Bank. The group also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and presented him with shirts.
When her father talked about his sons playing professional football, he told the Jewish Journal in 2012, before Mitchell was drafted, “I just kvell.”
Marc Brodsky contributed to this report.