On February 7, Massachusetts resident Dillon McMahon not only watched Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl, but also cheered on the former Patriots quarterback.
Like many New England fans, McMahon was always thrilled to see Brady win on football’s biggest stage, even though he had left the Patriots for the Buccaneers in free agency. Yet unlike other fans, McMahon had taken a personal (and very public) stance against the 43-year-old.
Several weeks before Super Bowl LV, McMahon started a Change.org petition ask Brady to either reimburse the $ 960,855 his lifestyle company, TB12, Inc., has received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program or donated an equivalent amount to local small businesses in need amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Government loans went to TB12 in April 2020 even though Brady had signed a guaranteed contract with the Buccaneers less than a month earlier for two years and worth one reported $ 50 million. Meanwhile, thousands of small businesses have struggled to access PPP loans. Many were forced to close permanently.
“I know places that had to close because they couldn’t afford to stay open during these tough times, so it wasn’t right for me,” McMahon told Boston.com. “After thinking, ‘Well, complaining doesn’t make a difference,’ I created the petition. “
“It was greeted with universal praise at the start from everyone I mentioned it to,” McMahon said of the petition. “Most people didn’t know that TB12 had received [PPP loans] and didn’t understand why this company would do it. I was a little surprised because I was waiting for someone to explain to me a logical reason why the company did it, but it never came.
The petition quickly attracted thousands of signatures (it currently has over 182,000), but also – as McMahon described them – “a lot of angry insults”.
In McMahon’s view, the underlying point of the petition is not necessarily about Brady (and TB12) as much as it is a larger reality.
“While I created this petition to bring attention to the TB12 brand,” explained McMahon, “my main goal is to expose the faulty system that got them in the first place.”
Problems with PPP loans have been a constant source of frustration for small businesses following the implementation of the program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
Like a Washington post report noted in December, more than half of the $ 522 billion that went to small businesses ended up going to the larger ones. In Massachusetts in particular (as the Boston Globe reported), only two percent of companies that received PPP assistance accounted for more than a third of the $ 14 billion the state received in total.
McMahon knew that by focusing on a renowned football superstar, his petition would reach a wider audience.
“To be honest I picked Tom Brady because I know it’s a name the people in this area are all very familiar with, so it would grab their attention,” he said.
As for Brady and TB12, McMahon said he was looking to contact the quarterback on social media, but knew it wouldn’t get very far (TB12 did not respond to requests for comment on the matter). This was partly why a Change.org petition was appealing.
“Thinking it would be a lost cause,” McMahon said of the direct attempts to reach Brady, “I thought the best solution would be to have a louder voice.”
In the long run, his goal is to at least get Brady to help Massachusetts businesses.
“I’m hoping that will inspire him to do a local job here in Massachusetts because this loan was for businesses here,” McMahon said.
But has that changed his view of Brady, a football player whom he – like so many fans – has worshiped for two decades?
“I’m still a fan of Tom Brady,” confirmed McMahon, “and I was happy to see him win. [Super Bowl LV]. I wouldn’t say it changes my perspective on him. Sometimes the people you love don’t always do what you think is best.
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