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Monday, February 19, 2007
Tom Brady to Father Child Out-Of-Wedlock: What Does It Mean?

Before I discuss today's news about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, I thought it would be helpful to first examine legal and sociological trends relating to the subject du jour: out-of-wedlock children.

Since the 1970s, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have soared, as about 37% of all American children are now born without married parents, in contrast to less than 10% in the 1960s and less 5% in the 1950s. There are many possible explanations for this increase, such as change in attitudes toward sexual behavior, less social pressure to get married, fewer legal constraints to divorce, and other theories carefully studied in George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen's "An Analysis of Out-Of-Wedlock Births in the United States" (Brookings Institution) and more ideologically, though nonetheless thoughtfully studied in Patrick F. Fagan's "Where is the Love?" (National Review).

Thankfully, every state has passed laws to ensure that these children enjoy the same legal protections as other children. For instance, Chapter 209c of the Massachusetts General Laws commands that "Children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the same rights and protections of the law as all other children." Moreover, the social stigma attached to a child born out-of-wedlock has dissipated considerably in modern times.

Celebrities and entertainers--perhaps only because we notice their lives--seem to display a particular penchant for having children out-of-wedlock. We all followed the birth of Suri Cruise to her (at the time) unwed parents, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Less famously, but still notably, award-winning actress Patricia Arquette of the show Medium has two children out-of-wedlock, as does actor/musician/freerider Kevin Federline. And of course, the nation is closely following the legal battles over which of three men could be the father to the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby girl, Danielynn.

Professional athletes and their out-of-wedlock children have also received public notice. Indeed, reports persist that many NBA players have fathered children out-of-wedlock. Consider, for instance, former NBA player Shawn Kemp, who is said to have fathered at least seven kids out-of-wedlock. Or consider Larry Bird, who was otherwise adored by Bostonians but received some critique for not having a relationship with a daughter he fathered out-of-wedlock. Similar stories have been said of MLB, NFL, and NHL players, some of whom have been sued for failing to pay child support.

So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that another pro athlete, this time Tom Brady, is going to father a child out-of-wedlock. The mother of his child is actress Bridget Moynahan, whom Brady broke up with two months ago, right before Christmas. Brady is now said to be dating supermodel Gisele Bundchen. He will certainly have the financial wherewithal to pay child-support, and unless there is question as to whether he is the father (and there is no indication of that), then this story will not attract legal attention.

But still, one might say that there is a glaring--if entirely predictable--disconnect between how the New England Patriots, and in particular their "brilliant" head coach Bill Belichick and "All-American" quarterback Tom Brady, are revered for their on-field exploits and how their personal lives do not seem nearly as laudable. We've talked about Belichick's alleged extra-marital affair with a New York Giants secretary, and now we see Brady set to father a child with a woman he recently dumped. That only brings to mind Charles Barkley's famous line, "I am not a role model." And it's a powerful reminder that no matter how graceful and inspiring they appear on-the-field, pro sports personalities are just regular folks, with the same vices, flaws, and other defects that all people have, expect, possibly, greater capacity and temptation to act on them.


everybody knows as the athletes are persecuted by many anxious women of fame and fortune… leaves them in the street, but follow without understanding… hurts what this happening to him to the Sr.Brady for being a person appreciated and with high rating at world-wide level, walked too much time with this old Woman trims, the one that plays with fire is burned….

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/18/2007 8:45 PM  

With the intelligent thing that is Mr. Brady like is possible that so much neglected? tremendous problem comes to him above…

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/18/2007 8:47 PM  

Moan which estapasando and what it waits for to Tom Brady to him, that to him happens to him through hot, not if to give the condolence him or to congratulate it…

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/18/2007 8:49 PM  

That graph is fascinating. Roe v. Wade must have had SOME impact retarding the rise of children to unwed mothers, but I don't see it there.

I am also fascinated by the previous three comments.

Anonymous tim in tampa -- 2/19/2007 3:37 AM  


Excellent and thought provoking post! Everybody should take the time to read both the Akerlof and Fagan studies you provided links for -- fascinating stuff.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 2/19/2007 6:52 AM  

I would distinguish Brady's situation (or Matt Leinart's)--a pregnancy arising from an ongoing relationship--from, say Shawn Kemp's--multiple children by multiple women, none (or many of which) were not relationships of any kind. I think they raise different issues about out-of-wedlock births, especially in the world of professional sports.

One answer as to why athletes (or other male celebrities) father more children out of wedlock may just be opportunity to meet and have sex with more women in more places. If there is anything to the allegations by Jason Kidd's soon-to-be-ex-wife, such opportunities abound.

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 2/19/2007 12:47 PM  

I agree with Howard, the fact that there are certainly many more "opportunities" out there for professional athletes and celebrities, has to play in to the picture (its a numbers game, if you will). We're generally talking about young men who are paid an enormous amount of money and are given an enormous amount of fame and access, which leads to a sense of entitlement. Add that to the fact that there is generally a lack of a sense of responsibility, or consequence in their lives. Many of them are protected from when they were in high school, once they show promise as being a star athlete.

It also makes them a target to self serving women, with agendas, that want to be apart of their world. Obviously Brady and Leinart's situations are a little different than Shawn Kemp's (both being in long term relationships with their respective partners), but the results are the same.

Anonymous Christian Gesue -- 2/20/2007 6:20 PM  

I'm sorry, but I see no difference between Brady/Leinart and Kemp. The bottom line is that neither Brady or Leinart are currently dating the mother of their child, and have in fact moved on to other relationships. If anything, Leinart has been linked to multiple women since the birth of his child, none of whom is the mother of his child.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/21/2007 11:45 AM  

first off, moynahan is almost 40 years old. she needs to stop acting like a teenager and just get on with her life. sure he's off with someone else but from what i read she was off with someone else too after the breakup. she and TB should provide DNA to compare to the baby when it's born to answer any question about who the father and mother are because stuff is going to be said to this kid. you never know, maybe she's faking the pregnancy. there are some crazy women out there. crazy men too.

the baby's welfare (health and financial) should be top priority for moynahan. both so-called adults need to stop talking to the press.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/21/2007 6:58 PM  




Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/02/2007 12:11 AM  

As a Michigan fan, I'm extremely disappointed by Brady's behavior. He should have married her, not moved on to a younger face.

Oh, and it's du jour (of the day), not de jure (by the law).

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/07/2007 3:12 PM  

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