Government & Politics

Brees needs daddy time

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees recently tweeted a plea for help.

We are looking for boy names starting with a “b” that are uncommon. Not in most baby name books. Thanks to all for any ideas

Since I’m always ready to assist, here are two uncommon baby names. The first is Ballantine, an homage to the old-school ale once produced at Falstaff breweries. Some parents like to name their kids after alcoholic beverages (Brandy, Sherry, Bud, Chelada…), and “Ballantine” fits  this trend swimmingly. The only problem is that no one wants to saddle their child with a nickname like “Ball”. It’s just too ripe for mischief, and playgrounds are rough enough already. So my second suggestion is Boethius. It’s a salute to the author who penned The Consolation of Philosophy— a favorite title among metaphysicians for the past 15 centuries. Unfortunately, despite its classical lineage, “Boethius” sounds like the name of a mongrel wolf-dog your neighbor keeps chained in the garage. So that won’t do, either.

Instead of specific suggestions like these, maybe it would be better to offer the Brees family a method by which they can generate their own “B- names”. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, because film director George Lucas has already provided a template. While writing Star Wars, Lucas created names for his villains by removing the first syllable from common words. For example, he took out “in” from “invader” and got “vader”. Thus, Darth Vader was born. Then Lucas subtracted “in” from Insidious and got Darth Sidious. And so on. (Devout Star Wars fans may recall the obscure Sith Lord, Darth Hibited, whose self-esteem issues kept him from properly channelling the Dark Side.)

Drew and Brittany Brees can modify the Lucas formula to create an original name for their son. I suggest they remove the “A” from words that begin with “Ab” in order to find new “B-name” possibilities. For example, if they delete the “A” from “Abandon”, the result is Bandon. Bandon Brees– tell me that doesn’t have a ring to it! And that’s just for starters. The system can generate all kinds of electric “B-name” monikers.  How about “Bility”, for instance? Or perhaps “Bundant”, or even “Bolition”? Why not try “Boriginal” on for size? Boriginal Brees– call him “Bo” for short. The possibilities are nearly endless. (Let’s avoid the name “Bort”, though. Sounds wrong on too many levels.)

This creative naming system is my small gift to the growing Brees family. If they end up using it, all I request is an autographed football for my daughters, Bysmal and Bracadabra.

Seriously, though, I fear Drew Brees’ naming indecison is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. Simply put, I think Brees is distracted by the impending arrival of his new son, and it’s affecting his on-field performace. While Brees’ fatherly anticipation is understandable, it’s clearly hurting his professional duties. This season Brees has struggled as a passer in clutch situations; he’s thrown damaging interceptions, and shown uncharacteristic inefficiency in the red zone. The Saints have eked out only three wins so far, and their two losses were very disappointing. So it’s not outlandish to think Brees has lost focus because he’s concerned about his pregnant wife and unborn son.

Remember the end of the 2008 season, when Brees got distracted by his wife’s first pregnancy? The Saints dropped 3 of their last 5 games and missed the playoffs. A couple weeks after the last game, Drew’s first son was born. Coincidence?

This situation shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s entirely fitting for fathers to feel excited when a new baby is on the way. Heck, Brees even tried to warn us about this coming distraction during the off-season, when he dedicated his new book to his unborn son. Clearly, there’s a battle being waged in Brees’ consciousness, between football and a baby.

Recently, Drew shared Brittany Brees’ birth plan with the media. It was rather shocking to learn that Brittany intends to deceive her husband about the baby’s arrival if she suspects birth news will disrupt his game-time preparations:

Brittany Brees is due with their second boy Oct. 18, the Monday following the Saints’ road game at Tampa Bay. But if labor begins around game time, well, the Saints’ Pro Bowl quarterback said he doesn’t expect to find out.

“She has basically told me if it comes in or around game time, she’s not going to tell me,” Brees said. “She’s just going to say, ‘Yeah, everything’s great,’ and she could be laying in the hospital 10 centimeters dilated, ready to go and she’s just going to tell me, ‘Everything’s fine. See you when you get home.’ And then I might show up and there might be a little baby waiting there for me.”

While this seems like a “noble deception” for the good of the team, it won’t do much good if  Drew’s fatherly anticipations are already affecting his team’s performance.

In my view there’s only one thing that will help Drew Brees regain his focus: paternity leave. That’s right, I think the Saints star quarterback should take about six weeks off to concentrate on his fatherly duties. He needs to make certain he’s available to hold Brittany’s hand during delivery, and to cradle young Bandon Brees during his first moments outside the womb. Afterwards, Drew can stay home and help Brittany tend to Bandon 24/7, without having to contend with a brutal NFL work schedule compounded by sleep deprivation. And I’m certain a family man like Saints owner Tom Benson would fully understand the decision, and ensure that Drew was aware of all the options afforded to him under the Family Medical and Leave Act. Further, during his time off Drew could rest his sore knee, and quietly study game film while the baby sleeps. Drew could practice his TRX training to keep fit, and play Madden 2011 game simulations with his older son Baylen.

Sure, the team’s performance might suffer in the short term, but probably far less than anyone suspects. After all, the Saints offense is averaging under 20 points per game with (a distracted) Brees. How much worse can they be without him? Plus, the 2nd string QB could gain valuable game experience, and the coaches might even find some new ways to win. After 5 games or so, Brees would return to the team with a clear mind and unbroken concentration.

It’s instructive to consider what happened after the Saints missed the playoffs in 2008. During  the offseason Drew Brees got the “daddy time” he needed with his newborn son Baylen. Then he came back for the 2009 season with a clear head and led the Saints to a Super Bowl championship. Similarly, if Brees takes paternity leave during the middle of this season, perhaps he can return in time to kickstart the team before the playoffs, and the Saints can make another exciting run.

Beyond all that, though, think of the validating message Brees can send Stay At Home Dads (SAHDs) about their self-worth. By taking paternity leave, Brees can break down restrictive gender stereotypes and remove the stigma associated with SAHDS, whose roles have been turned upside-down by a Great Recession that has hit “traditionally male industries” the hardest.

Sure, Brees’ courageous decision might twist some Uptown noses out of joint, but that’s not always a bad thing. I believe most Saints fans would eventually applaud Drew’s example of parental dedication. You disagree? Well, then imagine a scene where Brees is in a public men’s room with Baby Bandon, and shows an admiring throng of guys how a “real man” changes diapers:

“Gentleman, this is how you do a 2 minute changing drill. See this table with the dumb Koala on it? Well, it’s not there for decoration. Flip it down, sanitize the station, and secure the infant with these straps.

“Take the moistened towelettes from your pocket and scoop and wipe, scoop and wipe. Note the front-to-back technique– that’s how professionals do it. If the infant gets restless and the play starts breaking down, stay calm. Simply call an audible and request help. If you want to be a special father, you can’t be afraid of teamwork. That means everyone must ‘get in the game’ when called upon, and lend a hand to a father in need.

“Now, fold and seal the dirty dipey, put it aside, and slip the clean one under baby’s bottom. Draw your trusty Boudreaux’s tube from your belt holster, and apply liberally. This will protect the kid’s blindside from a blitz of diaper rash. Here’s the fun part: toss the sealed diaper ball into the trash at the far end of the bathroom, like this… booyah! That’s what I call Finishing Strong!

“See guys, you don’t have to be on the gridiron to smell greatness. You can smell it anywhere. Now let’s wash our hands, and after we put protective headphones over junior’s ears, we’ll  huddle up for a rousing ‘This is New Orleans’ chant.”

I promise you, if Brees did an impromptu instructional video like that and someone put it on Youtube, it would go viral.

By taking paternity leave, Brees could properly focus his attentions on his son and make a profound statement towards re-imagining 21st century fatherhood in a masculine way. The time off would help Brees and the Saints in the long run, and could inspire young fathers throughout the country.

Historic cultural changes begin with baby steps, and I’d love to see Drew Brees lead the way.

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  • Eli

    I’m your biggest fan. So good.

  • Brees already did a great diaper commercial. It’d be a great chance to bolster truth in advertising…

  • Don’t forget Darth Toxicated whose license was revoked after one too many Flying Under Influence infractions.

    Beer. It’s a good drink and a good name, which means “strong” in Bengali and, well, “beer” in English. I dare any playground bullies to take on Beer Brees.

  • I agree that Drew needs the time off. Childbirth really is more important than a football game. I’m a die-hard fan, but let’s keep this in perspective.
    Oh, how about Bruce(great traditional Scottish name), Balthazar(famous Persian King), Barak, Berlioz, Byron, (good Saint name)Bartholomew(Bart for short), Baron, Brice/Bryce, Brent, Brett. From Buddhism: Bodhisattva/Bodhidharma (Bodie for short)