For the past week or so, we have been inundated with every sports opinionist’s judgment on whether the New England Patriots’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference Championship game by a score of 45-7 was or should be suspect with the allegation that, heaven forfend!, someone, somehow committed a deed so dastardly, so immoral, so unethical in letting air out of their footballs that it created an imbalance of competition favoring the Pats!
And it was worth all of 38 points!
Now, I am fully aware of the impact that a football game has on peoples’ lives. I love football and have been involved in/with it for six decades. I have seen the destruction fans wreak upon themselves and their kith and kin when their beloved team loses; likewise, when their beloved team wins!
But when one team has won so much for so long and has been charged with previous dastardly deeds (see “Spy-gate”, circa 2007), and when that same team has a gruff and perceptively condescending coach along with a male model of a quarterback who is married to a real-life super model, and they win!…well, then, the “average folks” the “common Joe’s” just can’t stand it. Right?
One moment! (Said with a British accent, it has more sarcasm). Just what is the warp and woof of this monumental disdain and already guilty-judged pronouncement indicting the Patriots without so much as an investigation? Seems to me to be not too much unlike the accusations in Colonial Salem against those charged with witchcraft. And it’s the same general region of the U.S., too!
O.K., then, using the “logic” we are hearing today by far too many – and it is either actually uttered or inherently believed – two things that are equal to a third thing are actually equal to each other! Well, then, quod erat demonstrando! You know…in math class, man…QED! It means, “That proves it!” So since the witches in Salem were guilty and Boston is very near Salem where the witches spread their venom, we have just indisputably proved that the Patriots are as guilty as those evil, ugly witches!
Never mind that their victory was a 38-point stomping. Never mind that the hapless Colts could not run on the Pats’ defense. Never mind that at every turn, the New England players out-fought, out-played, and out- hit the Indianapolis players.
None of that matters! “RULES WERE BROKEN!”
Not that other teams might have actually committed this deflation of the erstwhile pigskin…that does not matter! The evil Patriots have been portrayed as “recidivist offenders” of the sacrosanct dictums of the High Inner Sanctum of the Royal Order of the NFL!
And to forgive this most recent offense – guilty or not – is moral anathema!
The ghosts of Vince Lombardi, and George Halas, and Paul Brown are rumbling about like the Ghost of Hamlet – and it is left to the court recorders (read, “sports writers”) to recover the “integrity of the game” by charging, indicting, trying, and pronouncing “guilty as charged” as to the allegations by those deceitful denizens in New England disguised as football icons.
Like the character in Bernard Malamud’s novel-turned-movie, The Natural, “Max Mercy”, the sports reporter, who when asked by “Roy Hobbs”, the hero of the novel, “Max, did you ever play the game?” To which Max replies, “Well, no…I’m here to protect the game,” the contemporary cadre of “purist” scribes continues their relentless campaign to “protect” the game!
Listening to the carping reporters for more than a week has left me with a definitive existential angst regarding their “integrity” when it comes to their perceived roles as “protectors” of the game.
Paul Finebaum Tweeted a Shakespearean reference to this circus of the absurd which prompted me to pen this entire observation. It was a referenced to Macbeth when he is told of his wife’s death. Macbeth, a truly bad character, utters a soliloquy in which he reflects on the significance of life, and I believe one line, which has gained notoriety over the ages, is applicable to this farce of an allegation.
Macbeth said, “…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
And there it is. All the missives…all the blather…all the pedantic prolixity of pernicious palaver…have reduced the NFL to this tale “told by an idiot…signifying nothing.”
Can we just get to the game!?
Dr. Arthur Ogden is Chair of Sports Management at the United States Sports Academy and the Executive Director of the College Football Game of the Year Committee.