What do two of the three most recent NFL Superbowl champion quarterbacks have in common?
This past year, new dad Eli Manning celebrated victory with his 10-month old baby girl, Ava. And, of course, no one can forget the touching photographs of 2010 Superbowl champion Drew Brees, hoisting his young son, Baylen, in air after the game. These new dads were beaming with pride.
So, is newly minted fatherhood an impetus for exceptional performance?
Research has shown that fathers tend to work harder and put in longer hours at their jobs than men without children. Perhaps this is part of a primal drive to provide for their offspring. If your job is to win football games, maybe being a new father makes you take it even more seriously.
Fatherhood has also been shown to help men cut back on dangerous behaviors such as drinking, smoking and crime. Obviously partying can be a problem in the NFL. In 2011, childless quarterback Ben Roethlisburger's season was marred by personal misconduct charges. Despite starting the season with a suspension, he was seen out partying the week before the Superbowl. Would fatherhood have cleaned up his act and boosted his performance? We'll never know.
Lastly, numerous studies point to a slight decrease in testosterone that occurs in a man shortly after his child is born. While this might not sound advantageous in testosterone wielding sport like football, it has its perks. Lower testosterone makes men calmer, more patient, and more empathetic. Basically -- they become better team players. And if anyone in football needs to be a team player, it's the quarterback!
With Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Culter becoming a first-time father this year, I can't help but hope there might be some truth to the father factor. (Cutler is expecting a son in July with his on-again fiancee, Kristin Cavallari). Perhaps taking one for the team and rousing himself at 3:00 a.m. to change a diaper might translate into a better attitude on the field as well. Maybe the newfound joy of fatherhood will transform him into a smiley, happy guy during press interviews! Hey, this Bears fan can dream.
Unfortunately, becoming a dad isn't a magic key to a Superbowl victory. Fatherhood certainly didn't do anything to boost Tom Brady's Superbowl performance. Eli Manning had no problem claiming a championship in 2008, long before his daughter was born. And if you look at the history of the Superbowl, you'll see that childless quarterbacks are just as likely to win as ones with children.
That said, it's possible that newfound fatherhood provides a spark in some men that give them motivation and drive to achieve their dreams. And that is something their children can be proud of.
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