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10 Things Deflategate Has Taught Us About Ourselves

10 Things Deflategate Has Taught Us About Ourselves

The appeal hearing is over. You know, the appeal in the Deflategate scandal heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the same guy who doled out the punishment in the first place. That phrase “Deflategate” has been in the public consciousness for 191 days thus laying waste to the claim that we have better things to focus on. Some have said it’s been a waste of time and money, while others have said it’s been a complete waste of time and money; I say it’s provided us with something more valuable than justice — a chance for introspection. Deflategate has afforded us the opportunity to see who we really are, as a society. Here are the ten things Deflategate has taught us about ourselves:

We LOVE a good witch hunt.

Something about New England brings out our persecution instincts. Yes, it’s been 322 years since someone was executed as a witch, but there’s really never a bad time to relive those Halcyon days.

Make no mistake, that’s what this was. This time, our witch was a dimpled Golden boy, one married to Giselle (most likely the result of some manner of sorcery and deception). The Wells Report, the investigative version of the Ford Pinto, has proven to be a clumsy attempt at  indicting Tom Brady. Even with the flawed material therein, the league still had to manipulate the verbiage in their to attempt to BURN THE WITCH!

We come to our conclusions and then fill in the details. 

People who wanted to believe Tom Brady was an evil mastermind found their proof in talking points — “The balls were 2 p.s.i’s under regulation!” “The Patriots chose to fire their employees which is a sign of guilt!” “The balls can’t deflate by themselves in cold weather!” Each of these points fit in with their narratives. . . even as all of those were proven false later. By then, everyone stopped paying attention as they were too busy dancing.

We believe the first thing we hear and then stop listening.

But we already knew this one, right? Headlines are front page material; retractions are on page 78, underneath automotive classifieds in type so small anyone over the age of 40 can’t read them. We’ve got our info, now leave us alone. There are cats to be watched on YouTube.

We don’t give two punts about the integrity of the game.

Most of the most vocal among us have no problem when their players lube themselves up to prevent opponents from getting a good grip. The league has played this card even in light of the fact they didn’t check the balls with any certainty or competence. In fact, they weren’t too concerned about anything illegal until after the fact.

We are hypocrites.

Hall-of-Famer and admitted cheater Jerry Rice says Tom Brady is a bum for cheating. But Rice has self-absolved himself of his cheating because, as he puts it, “everyone was doing it.” In his eyes, Brady is a lone wolf, regardless of the fact other quarterbacks have admitted to manipulating the balls. But then, that’s not important to Rice’s argument.

Whoever screams loudest is the winner.

The NFL leaked false information from the giddy up which allowed them to craft the narrative. And it worked. “Most of the Patriots footballs were at ridiculously low air-pressure levels.” “They were so underinflated, in fact, we’re surprised they weren’t mistaken for cow dung during the game.” “These things were just a heap of pigskin, nothing more”. . . of course, when anyone screamed about how this wasn’t true, no one could hear them over the league’s shrill voice of accusation. The league, for all their missteps and comically inept decisions, could not be wrong because they were loudest.

We love cutting others down to feel better about ourselves.

I’ve never won a Super Bowl because it looks difficult, and I don’t have the physical tools, the drive, the discipline, the intelligence. . . really, I’m barely a man. I’m pathetic. But now that I thinkTom Brady cheated to get his, I feel much better about myself. He’s as pathetic as I am. Suzanne Johnson, the wife of the Jets owner Woody Johnson was said to be dancing around when she heard the Patriots QB was found guilty by the court of kangaroos. I wonder if she stopped dancing when someone reminded her that her husband owned the Jets.

We’re more likely to believe a stranger than someone who knows.

ESPN commentators Damien Woody and Tedy Bruschi were asked whether they believed Tom Brady. Bruschi was a good friend whereas Woody only knew the man professionally from over a decade ago. Only Bruschi believed Brady because he knew the quarterback valued integrity above all else. So of course, we can only glean one thing from this — we must throw out his testimonial because he’s Brady’s friend. Only the man who truly knows nothing about the subject is unbiased enough to tell us whether he’s a liar or not.

We love not having accountability. 

We’re only wrong if we admit to being wrong which we’d be foolish to do, even if evidence destroys our case. So you’ll never get an apology from us. And we’ll continue to spout our opinions as if we’re right. It’s your fault for listening to us in the first place.

We are crazy people.

Most of the commentators were not playing with fully inflated footballs either. Troy Aikman said Deflategate was worse than Bountygate, an almost equally-fabricated scandal, where players were paid bonuses to inflict pain on opposing players. With all due respect, Aikman was hit in the head a lot.

ESPN’s Steven A. Smith has no such excuse. He compared Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez, a convicted murderer, which on the surface makes him look like a loon, but as you look deeper you’ll find that he is really a loon. For more of his lunacy, check out ESPN on a daily basis because, you know what?. . . NO ACCOUNTABILITY.  And we love that!

So I say thank you Roger Goodell and Tom Brady and all the buffoons involved for forcing us to focus on the real depth of our character instead of just silly inflation numbers of footballs. What we do with this knowledge is up to us. I suggest we continue doing the same things. Hey, it’s worked for us for our 400 years, why change now?

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My Application to Be an NFL Coach

Dear Coachless Football Teams,

I understand your frustration in hiring a new coach to run your on-field product.  The top college coaches aren’t interested and you have trepidation about some of those who have done it before, the Ken Whisenhunts, and the Lovie Smiths, and the Lovey Howells of the world.  Hence, I’d like to take this opportunity to throw my hat into the ring.

Hey, Norv Turner remained the head coach of the San Diego Chargers for six years!  You really have nothing to lose in calling me in.  Tell you what, I’ll even pay for the lunch we have together.  You like Thai food?

I know what you’re thinking:  I don’t have any experience.   True, but what I lack in experience, I make up for with snappy answers at my press conferences.

As for qualifications, where do I begin?  I am a former Monday morning quarterback, with over 30 years of experience chastising coaches for moves that, with the benefit of hindsight, seem incredibly stupid.  I have a very good record of pointing out what should have been done after the fact.

I am a badass, but a player’s coach.  To wit, I run my practices like a drill sergeant, but allow my players who display exceptional effort on the practice field to earn coupons for “one free back rub and tub soak.”

Each day, I am the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the facility.  (Though I do require an eight-hour lunch/siesta in the middle of the day.  Genius needs its rest.)

And I demand that my players will have the best endurance in the league.  I’m like Michael Douglas in ”Miracle.”  (Or was it Kurt Russell?  Y’know, I shouldn’t get them confused, but I do.)  I don’t run two-a-days, I run three-a-days.  And every practice is in pads.  In fact, I require my players to wear pads 24-7, even on off days.  They can only take them off when they shower.

From a strategy point-of-view, I can tell you that a prevent defense doesn’t prevent anything.  So I won’t use it.  A prevent offense, however, I use almost exclusively when in the red zone.  It helps to reduce turnovers close to the goal line which always sap a team of much needed momentum.

In this formation, when the ball is snapped and the offensive line drives the defense into the end zone, the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back who then scampers all the way down to the other end of the field wasting valuable time the defense would otherwise have to get the ball back and tie the game after we punched it into the end zone.  I got the idea from a recent rousing game of ”keep away.”

Defensively, I am just as adept at confusing the opposing team.  Cover-2?  Yeah, too weak.  I use the cover-11 and drop everyone into coverage.

I don’t carry a punter.  The game has four downs and I like to use them all.  Punters just take up a roster spot.  So I usually carry a fourth quarterback.  Tim Tebow will not be one of those four quarterbacks.  I see him more as a down lineman type in my scheme.

”Game management” is my middle name.  When the ball is in our quarterback’s hands with a minute thirty or less, that’s when we’re at our best.  We play the entire game as if that were the case.  The hurry up offense has never been as fast.  The second the center gets to the ball, he’s told to snap it backwards, whether the quarterback is ready or not.

Sometimes I put all four quarterbacks on the field at the same time and get the defense to try to guess who’s going to get the snap.

I’m versed in the pistol, shotgun, run-and-shoot, hit-and-run, pick-and-roll, the wildcat.  I also have perfected formations known as the musket, laser, Shangri la, and the Mississippi midnight mosey.  (The last one is a dance step, but I have a feeling I could integrate it into the offense seamlessly.)

I’m known for the sheer volume of times I employ the on-sides kickoff.  It softens the receiving team up until they don’t expect a long kickoff.

The types of players I am most fond of are tall and lanky wide receivers, that run a 9.0 80-yard dash or faster.  (I don’t believe that a 40-yard dash can adequately gauge a person’s speed and I believe that running them 100 yards is useless as there’s no purpose for that type of distance in American football.)  Someone like former NBA star, at a height of 7’6” Shawn Bradley would be ideal for my pass plays.

My cornerbacks need to have loose hips and tight necks.  So they can only stare at what’s directly in front of them but can constantly change that point of view.

Did I mention I am a tireless workaholic?  I watch film constantly.  For instance, I just finished “Argo.”  It was breathtaking.  I’m considering running a few plays like that.

I even write my own cheers for the cheerleaders.  ”One-two-three-four, we’re not gonna pass no more.” It’s actually my way to call the play to our quarterback.  (The one flaw is that if the other team realizes it’s not a real cheer, we’re in trouble.)

I grow my mustache like Andy Reid, spit when I talk like Bill Cowher, wear a fedora like Tom Landry, a sweater like Mike Ditka, and a hoodie like Bill Belichick, all at the same time.  My nickname is, in fact, ”Bum.”  According to ancestry.com, I am 1/128th Harbaugh.

On a side note, I am an amateur horticulturalist.  What do I grow?  I grow Bill Parcells Coaching Trees in my greenhouse.

”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” was Coach Vince Lombardi, the man for whom football’s ultimate trophy is named.  ”Winning is something that isn’t nothing” is mine.  I live it, I breathe it, I want it etched on my tombstone.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m good with soundbytes too.  ”If we score more points than the other team, we will win the game.”  ”I can’t have a bunch of guys peeing themselves in the middle of a playoff game.”  ”Exhibitions are for museums!”  Those were all gems I’ve uttered at one time or another.

I mentioned the press conferences earlier.  They’ll become must-see television.  Great fodder for the media and we all know the fans love an engaging coach as much as they love a winning team.  Look at Jacksonville, there can’t be any other reason to continue watching them.

And not to step on the toes of the marketing department, but I have just four words to throw out to you — ”Fans Suit Up Day.”

So, in conclusion, when you’re trying to decide on a has-been using techniques that retired when Slingin’ Sammy Baugh did, consider that the game is changing.  It’s about staying one step ahead of the curve.  Getting the other head coach to lose focus for just one second as he drops his clipboard in stunned disbelief to say, ”What the –?!” as my offensive line goes into a choreographed riverdance as a new twist on the fumblerooski.

My hire will generate interest, much more than any one of a slew of standard-issue coordinators-cum-head coaches, and that’s what you need.  We may even win a game or two.  Well, as long as Cleveland is on the schedule.

If this opportunity should not pan out, I would also consider a job in concessions where I have several years of experience.  The hot dogs have to be kept at a minimum of 125 degrees, otherwise, they <i>will</i> turn green.  That doesn’t make them taste bad, per se, just different.

 

Featured Image by: digitalart

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Checking Santa’s List for Sports

Ho! Ho! Ho!  No, it’s not Herman Cain addressing yet another accusation from a mistress, but the commercialized call representative of the birthday of that most famous religious figure, that leader of men, that otherworldly phenomenon, Tim Te—er, I mean, Jesus Christ.  (Sometimes I forget that Tim Tebow’s birthday is actually August 14th.  My new year’s resolution is to get a petition to Congress to make that day a national holiday, I don’t care how many doors I need to knock on and how many hours I need to stand outside of malls.)

It’s Christmas time, and it’s the time for giving, a time for all of <i>fankind</i> to come together as one and treat each other with hospitality and friendship.  For all the animosity you show to each other, this is a time to put bygones aside.  In fact, let bygones be bygones; help them to grow up and live fruitful bygone lives, raising little bygones of their own, and then let those bygones be bygones, perhaps settling an organic bygone commune out in the woods somewhere. 

Now is the time to allow for all our fellow fans, be he decked in silver and black, teal, or green and yellow with a hunk of cheese on his head; be his field green or blue; whether his horns be hooked or his tide rolled, he deserves something this holiday season and Santa (shhhh! It’s actually just a fat guy in a red suit and hat with a white beard) is here to give it to him. 

Now, without further ado, let us reach inside the satchel and distribute the presents to these most deserving sports entities:

To Tony LaRussa – a phone that works and a peaceful retirement.

To the NBA – a new commissioner, six fewer teams, and plenty of Barkley and Shaq commentary. 

To Dirk Nowitzki – singing lessons.

To Frank McCourt – a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles (it’s really for his own good as Dodgers fans can be quite aggressive.)

To Dodgers fans – a new owner, preferably one who is a step up.

To Jerry Sandusky – a trip from Penn State to the state pen.

To the Texas Rangers – a hearty “A” for effort.

To Nelson Cruz – a better jump on the ball.

To the 1986 Boston Red Sox – the long overdue opportunity to throw away the Buckner footage. 

To @d_rovell (Darren Rovell) – a singing career.

To Dan Patrick – more movie appearances.

To Tim Tebow – a watch with the correct time to start “Tebowtime” 45 minutes earlier.

To opponents of the Broncos – a fourth quarter to go along with the three they currently play.  

To Cleveland – something. . . ANYTHING.

To Lebron James – a book on magic to help with his disappearing act during the NBA Finals.

To Chicago Cubs fans – hope, if but for just an offseason.

To the “unnamed source” in sports reports – the courage to come forward with your name.

To the “player to be named later” – a name, preferably something cool, like Nnamdi Asomugha, or I hear “Ron Artest” is available.

To Chad Ochocinco – permission to tweet as much as you’d like.

To Ndamakoung Suh – an offseason job as the glass breaker at Jewish weddings.

Jim Schwartz – dinner with Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh – the chance to stand Jim Schwartz up at dinner.

To Brett Favre – another chance. . . to throw an ill-advised game-losing interception.

To Vince Young – a different dream.

To the late, great Al Davis – a team in heaven.

To Peyton Manning – a new neck.

Andrew Luck – a good real estate agent in Indianapolis.

Eli Manning – finally a seat at the head of the table at family gatherings

To Brigham Young University – consensual relations during basketball season.

Mark Cuban – an MLB franchise.

CC Sabathia – opt out clauses every year.

Los Angeles – a football team. . . for a few years before it leaves for somewhere else.

Manny Pacquiao – a fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Rex Ryan – a Bill Belichick dart board for his game room.

Donovan McNabb – a cushy studio job.

Tony Romo – a big game win.

Big East – a new name.

To the Bowl Championship Series – a little love. . . similar to the love Lennie shows a puppy in “Of Mice and Men.”

To Chris Paul – a string of championships with the Clippers.

To the Los Angeles Clippers – a larger share of the market (something tells me if they start to win, Lakers fans will jump on board). 

To Albert Pujols – 254 million reasons why it’s not about the money.

And to Tito Francona – a more respectful, celebrated exit.

Finally, to all of you from all of me, I give to you another year of buzzer beaters, fantastic finishes, shocking upsets, gutsy performances, inspired efforts, and the thrill of victory without the agony of defeat. . . unless, of course, you’re playing Tim Tebow.  

Happy Holidays!

[Featured image by: digitalart]

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A Moment of Sporting Thanks

A Moment of Thanks

Prior to the autumnal feast that shall soon be placed before us, we’ve already been given a lot to digest from this year in sports, including not one, but two labor strikes, improbable winners, ungracious losers, horrific tragedies, and a trip from Penn State to the state pen.  Let us now take a moment to focus, not on the negatives that are overthrown passes and blown coverages (as we all know there was pass interference somewhere that should have been called), but rather on all the positives we can take away from the field; to take pause and give thanks for this culture in which we have invested our time and sanity. 

Interestingly enough, the first Thanksgiving occurred when the Pilgrims went to the Wompanoag Tribe in 1621 for lessons in surviving the brutal winters of Massachusetts and how to deal with the annual collapse of the local wood-chipping team. 

That autumn formed the basis of what we now know as Thanksgiving and for many years, the colonists lived peacefully and synergistically with the neighboring Indian tribes.  That is, before shooing them off their land, claiming it for themselves, and then giving them casinos.  It was kind of like running up the score.  Nothing said they couldn’t, but it was generally frowned upon, especially by the Indians. 

But I digress. These days, the holiday stands for overeating, creating weird hybrid meals like turducken, watching football, and spending time with the family you seek to avoid all year long; a chance to call a timeout to the hustle and/or bustle of our lives. 

So with that tradition in mind, let me take a moment to present to you that which I am thankful from the past twelve months in sports.   I am most thankful for:

Norv Turner, for defying logic and remaining gainfully employed as a head coach in the NFL.  Seriously, does he have photos of A.J. Smith in a compromising position or something? 

The 2011 Boston Red Sox, for making us all forget that “All My Children” had ended.

Theo Epstein, for giving Cubs fans hope, as blind as it might be, for that’s where it begins.

Jim Harbaugh, for showing that going from the college to the pros is easier than everyone prior to him has shown it to be.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, for keeping the economy growing with fines levied from hits.  C’mon, James, it’s been a while.  Your country needs you!

The NFL, for making it a safe game to play again, except to the myriad players foolish enough to get injured on a weekly basis. 

Tim Tebow, for being a great quarterback even though the numbers show he sucks at it.

Ndomakung Suh, for being a dirty player while remaining so damned likeable. 

Andrew Luck, for saving the Indianapolis Colts while still at Stanford.

Boise State, for losing a game this year so as not to confuse things in the BCS as they did in 2009.

The Big East, for keeping the words “big” and “east” in their title even though both are misnomers. 

Dirk Nowitzski, for winning that ring he deserved five years earlier.

The NBA players, for standing their ground and taking a charging foul.

The NBA owners, for arguing the call, saying it was a blocking foul.

David Stern, for continuing to ruin a league he once built to prominence.  The guy’s like a gambler at Vegas who doesn’t know when to leave once he’s accumulated a stack of chips.  It’s become quite comical to watch.

Novak Djokovic, for showing he should be on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Roger Federer, for finally allowing others the chance to win trophies.

Tim Tebow, for forcing us all to love him.

Bob Costas, for getting the interview with former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky so we could see the worst denial in the history of speaking, a 16-second denial on whether or not he is sexually attracted to young boys where the alleged child rapist repeated the question, qualified it, danced a little, then finally denied it once we had all switched over to “Dancing with the Stars” that we had TiVoed.   

NCAA football conferences, for making geography class irrelevant. 

Michael Vick, for regaining the respect of his fans, only to lose it again with his performance on the field.

St. Louis fans, for being so even-tempered. 

Albert Pujols, for doing something legendary just days before his contract expired.

The Texas Rangers, for allowing networks to replace footage of the 1986 Boston Red Sox with them.

Playoff beards, for making a world of difference in how you play. 

Cal Ripken Jr., as a reminder not to take his feat for granted.  He played in 2,632 consecutive games.  I, for one, took a week off between writing the beginning and end of this piece. 

Tim Tebow, for making us all believe in ourselves.

Sports karma.  That’ll teach you to take anything to South Beach.

Floyd Mayweather, for finally realizing he gets paid a ton of money to fight Manny Pacquiao. . . whether he wins or loses. 

Mike Tyson, for being viable again. . . in some funny acting bits.

Coach K, even though we all hate your team, we gotta admit, you’re pretty good

Shaq Fu, the Shaq Daddy, The Big 401K, and so on, for his fun-loving personality we hope continues into retirement. 

Chad Ochocinco, for his tweets before he got to “heaven.”

Major League Baseball, for stepping up to the plate and showing America it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, Tim Tebow, for making every day just a little brighter.

What a year it’s been.  Sports are as they always are – intriguing captivating, nauseating, emboldening, and demoralizing.  And that’s only on a Sunday.  Here’s to the other six days of the week.  Now, pass the turducken.  I’ve still got some eatin’ to do before I watch “Dancin’ with the Stars.”

[Featured image by: David Castillo Dominici]