Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 11:34 a.m.
First of all, a brief story. Some years back, I was in Florida early for Speedweeks, and the New England Patriots were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, which was in Jacksonville, and I went to a bar in St. Augustine to watch some friends play music. I wore a Red Sox cap because I’m a fan, and I wear a Boston cap a lot of times if I’m wearing a cap at all.
When I got to the bar, people I didn’t know either acted like we were friends or seemed notably standoffish. It took several minutes of high fives and thumbs downs before I realized that the Patriots fans all thought I was one and the Eagles fans thought I wasn’t.
I’ve rooted for the Red Sox all my life because my father’s baseball hero was Ted Williams. He also loved Johnny Unitas, which was why I grew up rooting for the Baltimore Colts. My love of the Red Sox wasn’t based on geography. I respect the Patriots and still do, but they’re in that middle ground of teams I neither like nor dislike.
What “Deflategate” demonstrates, to me, is, (1.) I can’t believe how every scandal has to have a “-gate” at the end of it, more than forty years after Watergate, and (2.) most people will forgive a sin, but they can’t abide a hypocrite.
I can’t believe that Tom Brady hasn’t noticed this.
I don’t believe the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, and won it, last year because Brady was throwing a football with less air in it. I believe Brady probably let it be known that he liked the feel of footballs with a little less air in them, and the people in charge of such things tried to make their star quarterback happy. They managed to get the balls approved by the referees, and it seems to me that, if anyone was at fault, it was the refs who probably held the footballs, squeezed them, and deemed them suitable for use.
As far as great scandals go, this one is pretty weak.
Unfortunately, Brady, instead of saying, over and over, “I don’t really think this is a big deal,” responded by imitating a weasel, and, like about a thousand politicians and a similar number of coaches, recruiters, lawyers, used-car salesmen, and guys who sell fruit on the side of the road, played that plausible-deniability game until he ran out of plausibility.
Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.
When I was a kid, I used to try to play football without hip pads — I got caught once by the officials — because I thought it allowed me to move better. I could’ve gotten hurt, and, if I had, it would have been my fault. No one told me to do it. I got in trouble when the zebras nabbed me. I had to run after practice the next Monday.
I remember reading books by Jerry Kramer, the great guard of the Green Bay Packers, in which he said he always wore shoulder pads that were too small for the same reason. (I tried that, too, but the coaches wouldn’t let me get away with it and made me wear the pads all the other linemen wore.)
Some good has come from this. For instance, when the season begins this year, I bet the zebras will pay more attention to the footballs being submitted for approval before the games.
I really didn’t blame Brady much until this cell-phone destruction business came along.
Now I just think, Tom, you’re a great quarterback, and this is a really stupid way to ruin your reputation and legacy.
In conclusion, what a dumbass.
In my new novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, I wrote the following about Chance Benford, who begins the story as a football coach: “Chance couldn’t make those boys good players, but he could make them passable actors.” You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes