You haven’t experienced true isolation until you realize you’re the only villager not carrying a pitchfork or a torch. On a positive note, while everyone else is raging, you have two free hands to hold a beer and a hotdog.
I’m having a hard time working up indignation over underinflated footballs. I know I’m supposed to be furious that Tom Brady might have used balls that were not regulation weight during the AFC Championship Game. I know that this bit of cheating might have made it easier for him to throw and for his receivers to catch. I know that this type of behavior wouldn’t be unusual for Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ weasel of a head coach.
But if I react like everyone else to New England’s alleged use of doctored game balls, which is to say with burst blood vessels in the eyes, where can I go with my anger when something really heinous happens? Like when my cable goes out?
In the history of skullduggery, the Patriots’ alleged offense is somewhere between counting cards at a casino and tampering with Monopoly dice.
This story is so overblown it has windburn. A purposely underinflated ball is the football equivalent of jaywalking. The offense deserves a ticket, a talking-to and a promise that all stoplights and municipal laws will be obeyed from now on.
Instead, there are media cries for Belichick to be suspended for the Super Bowl, for the Patriots to be heavily fined or for the NFL to surgically remove Brady’s cleft chin as punishment. And I keep thinking: really? All this fuss for such a small thing?
Maybe it’s time to get my bile levels checked. I must be down a quart.
At his Thursday news conference, Brady said he understood the importance of the allegations and talked somberly of the “integrity’’ of the game. What integrity? Who looks at the NFL these days and thinks about nobleness, grace and grandeur? Most of us think about violent people doing just about anything to win games, up to and including gnawing off opponents’ limbs.
There is as much of an uproar over underinflated footballs as there was over Ray Rice’s one-punch knockout of his then-fiancee or over Adrian Peterson’s abuse of his four-year-old son. Those of you foaming at the mouth for heavy discipline here might want to ponder that.
I completely understand what this is about. Belichick has a history of cheating, Brady is too good to be true and we’re all sick of the Patriots’ success. I’m positive that New England’s first Super Bowl news conference next week will be covered like a war-crimes tribunal. Put controversy and the big game together, and this is what happens. But we don’t have to be proud of it.
ESPN has reported that the league is “distraught’’ about the game-ball fuss. I can think of a lot of words that might fit here – “disappointed,’’ “upset,’’ “aggravated,’’ etc – but “distraught?’’ If commissioner Roger Goodell is distraught, he should get himself to a mental-health counselor, ASAP.
The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck could have programmed his game balls to hit receivers between the numbers on every play, and it still wouldn’t have mattered. New England simply was better. But let’s put that aside. Is Brady’s success as a quarterback tied to the pounds per square inch of air pressure in footballs? I’d no more believe that than I would his chinstrap giving him a competitive advantage.
Many former NFL quarterbacks of varying accomplishments have admitted that they illegally manipulated footballs on game days. That tells me it’s a common occurrence in the league. It doesn’t make it right, rules being rules, and all that.
But common sense and, apparently, a newfound serenity tell me that this isn’t an issue to get incensed about. Other than the fact that the controversy involves Belichick, who was fined for spying on the Jets in 2007, there is no good reason for underinflated footballs to be a hotter topic nationally than the French terrorist attacks. But it is.
I don’t feel betrayed by the Patriots. Bemused, yes, all by myself.
I will attend those news conferences during the buildup to the Super Bowl, and I will sit back and listen to the rapid-fire questions from my media brethren. Perhaps I’ll get caught up in their zeal for justice and finally understand the high dudgeon. Until then, meh.