I don’t care how much the national media fawns all over the New England Patriots — I just can’t help but view them with the same disdain I have for the New York Yankees and Duke basketball.
Tom Brady is simply this era’s Derek Jeter — a fiery competitor with loads of talent, but one who gets the benefit of the doubt from referees, broadcasters and super models with equal frequency. I can’t deny the fact that both Brady and Jeter earned their stature by dominating their positions and displaying superior leadership skills, but they’ve reached that “infallible” stage with the officials and the media, and that just turns my stomach.
In last night’s game, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were so busy kissing Brady’s rear end after the aborted screen pass that Brady turned into a long completion to Dante Stallworth, that they failed to notice Wes Welker blocking 15 yards downfield while Brady was still holding the ball. (Welker
was obviously in blocking mode because he figured Brady and his receiver had already executed the play as diagrammed.) Tell me that didn’t remind you of Billy Packer oohing and ahhing over Shane Battier’s hustle for a loose ball, while Carlos Boozer can clearly be seen mugging an opposing player in the background.
The Patriots, like the Yankees and Duke, also seem to have the league and its “broadcast partners” in their back pockets. MLB and Fox put all their
eggs in the Yankees’ basket in the 1990’s (and more recently in the N.Y.-Boston rivalry), while the NCAA and CBS went years petrified of a Duke-less Final Four. It’s not enough that the teams are great; we have to get them shoved down our throat by entities benefiting financially from their success. Spectator sports used to celebrate the underdog; in today’s TV-driven sports landscape, it’s all about making sure the right teams are playing in prime time.
I’ll also go so far as to point out that all three teams’ recent success began via controversial (at best) incidents that the media and their respective leagues couldn’t have been quicker to bury. For the Yankees, it was Jeter’s Jeffrey Maier-aided home run vs. the Orioles in the 1996 playoffs; for Duke, the referee-aided 22-point comeback vs. Maryland in the 2001 Final Four; and for the Pats, Tom Brady’s “tuck rule” non-fumble vs. the Raiders in the 2002 AFC playoffs.
Not enough evidence for you? How about the fact that Patriots got caught cheating this year and their only penalty was a fine. You tell me what
other professional sports team could be found of organizationally-instituted, premeditated and blatant cheating, and not be forced to forfeit games or draft picks. How about Rodney Harrison getting busted for steroids at the beginning of the season and, a few months later, Simms marveling at his high level of performance at such an advanced age. Gee, Phil, you don’t think that “fountain of youth” to which you were referring might be filled with roids, do you?
You might say these are just the paranoid ramblings of a bitter and broken man, and you may be right. I, however, will always maintain that the
“greatness” of these teams was built on orchestrated and somewhat artificial foundations. Or maybe I’m just pissed because my teams never seem to get the calls. Either way, will somebody please beat the Pats.