SALT LAKE CITY — Hard as it is to imagine, I find myself sympathizing with a pretty boy quarterback and his supermodel wife.
Which is unusual. My tendency is to want to throw fruit at them.
Instead, I decided this week that I like Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady and wish them well in their practically perfect lives. So what if he's richer, smarter, better looking and more talented than everybody (except her). Never mind that his impossibly glamorous wife and their 2-year-old son stroll in the park wearing expensive matching outfits.
Maybe the super-couple really didn't get matched up by a marketing firm.
Could it be that Brady and his wife actually care for one another?
There are undoubtedly oily gossip sites that disagree, but I'm going to say yes.
Normally I don't spend a ton of time celebrity watching. I just found out who Katy Perry is last week. I only read the National Enquirer if I'm waiting to get my tires rotated. My big brush with celebrity came when someone told me I had barely missed seeing Goldie Hawn in a mall in Houston.
Usually I view things the same as everyone else who isn't a multi-millionaire. I assume people like the Bradys are selfish and phony. I look at such pairings and figure they're planning a reality show together, not a life. But when I saw that Bundchen defended her husband after the Super Bowl, I didn't hate it.
Since when is sticking up for your spouse a crime? I know she threw Brady's teammates under the bus, and Bill Belichick probably wants to strangle her. Still, I like to think my wife would do the same, minus the expletive.
Of course, I like to think I'm NFL quarterback material, too, so there you go.
The impetus for my sentimentality was the story that made the rounds Monday. A website called TheInsider.com caught Bundchen on video, responding to a heckler after the Super Bowl. She said, "My husband cannot (expletive) throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times."
This undoubtedly embarrassed her husband to tears, mainly because he respects his receivers. He even went so far as to call Wes Welker "a phenomenal player and teammate and I love that guy."
Still, at least he knows his wife loves him enough to defend him, even if he didn't need her help. They left the stadium holding hands. I'm just happy to see there are beautiful, rich, talented people who can love someone besides themselves. Prior to the big game, she reportedly sent an e-mail to family and friends, asking them to "pray for Tommy."
Melodramatic, maybe even misguided, but heartfelt.
When Andrei Kirilenko cried after a Jazz practice in 2007, confused about his role in Utah's offense, his wife came to his defense. Masha Kirilenko e-mailed me her phone number because she thought she had a solution. The problem between her husband and Jerry Sloan wasn't that they had opposing goals, she said, but that Kirilenko didn't speak English all that well.
She said it hurt to see her husband crying on TV and called it "a tough time for both me and Andrei."
Her attempt at helping made me like her.
People say it's always about money, but in this case it wasn't. Kirilenko already had an $86 million guaranteed contract. It was just a wife trying to make him happy. (She also had another idea to make him happy, but I won't go into that.)
A Major League player's wife once told me that aside from money, their problems were the same as everyone else. She worried about her kids' swimming lessons, their friends, how to get them to eat healthy foods. In particular, she felt lonely when her spouse was on road trips.
Love, worries, pain, hope.
Same as the rest of us, not counting the paycheck and paparazzi.
So when I saw Bundchen's angry, defensive response, I wanted to give her a Coke and a smile. It might have been better if she had ignored the taunts, but her heart seemed in the right place. She couldn't have sent a Valentine truer than that.