Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It's How You Play The Game

To make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs. To win a Super Bowl, you might have to deflate a few footballs. Over the the past week or two, we have heard quite a lot about how the New England Patriots may or may not have taken air out of more than just their opponents' hopes to play in the championship game. At issue are a number of footballs that were manipulated so as to give the home team a distinct advantage in case of inclement weather. It's easier to catch a ball in the wind and rain when it's not quite so full of air.
That's the stuff we get to talk about for the two weeks between the semi-finals and the finals. That, and the lingering questions about the relative merits of French Onion dip versus Guacamole. Cooler in the kitchen, or ice bucket in the living room? Carrot sticks and celery, or just bag after bag of chips? Should we flip over to the Puppy Bowl at halftime, or record the whole thing? So many choices, so little time.
Well, actually, there's a lot of time. That's kind of the thing that is working against the whole Bill Belichick/Tom Brady legacy deal. What if it turns out that, aside from winning Super Bowls, the thing these guys are really good at is manipulating the football realities. We call these "rules." If you happen to be one of the red, white and blue clad Foxboro fans, you probably see things a little differently. "Everybody uses whatever advantages they can," or more simply, "Everybody cheats." Remember "The Tuck Rule?" The Patriots used a rule that barely existed to get themselves into position to win an AFC championship, and eventually a Super Bowl. They lost a bunch of money and draft picks for using communications and surveillance outside the generally accepted framework called "the rules." They called that one "Spygate." Since then, the Patriots have not won another Super Bowl.
Now we've got "Deflategate," and this one has all the earmarks of being a world class distraction before the world class spectacle of the most watched sporting event on our corner of the globe. When it's all over, win or lose, the New England Patriots will go back to the business they know best: attempting to win games. In the meantime, the Seattle Seahawks have a player who has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for his conduct on and off the field. He was most recently asked by the NFL to pay twenty thousand dollars for grabbing his crotch after scoring a touchdown in what was a furious come from behind victory that put his team into the Super Bowl. This is approximately twenty thousand dollars more than any Patriot player, coach or equipment manager has been fined by anyone for anything. Mister Lynch was celebrating his play on the field. It should also be pointed out that he was grabbing his own crotch, not anyone else's. All the people he hit were opposing players on the way to the end zone. What he did was deemed obscene by the powers that be. This was the decision made by the National Football League. What I'm pretty sure of is this: I don't think I want them deciding the snack menu for my Super Bowl party. They probably won't suggest sausages.

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