As I grow older, I’m getting wiser ….. I’m absolutely convinced of it. And, as I begin to scratch the surface of the Ravens contentious loss to the Patriots, I’m glad that I’ve relied on that acquired technique of thoroughly absorbing a situation before putting my feelings in writing.
This doesn’t mean I remained stoic and silent as a potential victory bounced off the chest of Mark Clayton and through the fingers of the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday. In fact, I suffered a behemoth meltdown of personal conduct, to the witness of several dozen Fells Point Festival Fans.
Trust me, if Andrew Dice Clay, Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci saw my very animated, yet very real explosion of emotion, they’d look at each other and say “Damn, that F@#&*ng guy can curse.”
I can’t help my weakness – watching football and rooting for the hometown team brings out an emotionally charged reaction in me and YOU.
And, this same rabid, infuriating streak – which cannot be found in the typical baseball, basketball or hockey fan – is exactly what fuels my dissection of the NFL’s hellbent mission of protecting CERTAIN QUARTERBACKS.
I’m not disparaging fans of other sports …..
We’re those same people. But, we behave differently when the passion is football. We anticipate pain. We relish defense. And, we expect brutal, hard efforts.
So, as I went through my normal Monday routine, I reminded myself of a custom I haven’t experienced, since January 19th ….. I stay away from everything related to the Ravens on mornings following a loss.
It’s hard to digest the bitching and griping. The negativity runs deep on a morning after the Ravens lose. It’s rarely productive and such drama usually just leads to a bad freakin’ start of the week.
As if I need a reason – the Ravens just lost !!!!
Yesterday, I was out of practice. The Ravens haven’t lost in nearly 9 months …..
And, by the time I heard the first caller pleading for a BIG TIME RECEIVER to replace Mark Clayton, followed by a Congressional Inquiry into the NFL’s preferential treatment of Tom Brady, I was ready to take hostages.
Along with this propaganda, I heard a peppering of valued insight. I have no doubt a degree of fact and sobering truth was imbedded in a couple blogs, as well as on-air disclosures by hosts and callers.
I heard and read a few visions regarding the NFL’s stance on ensuring the quarterback is protected, to the greatest extent, while in the pocket. I understand the reasoning – quarterbacks typically control the immediate destiny of a team.
I’m not certain I agree with that concept, but it’s a fair and intelligent argument. Yeah, this is my way of saying it’s not ranked with UFO spottings, pro rasslin’ results and other phony baloney conspiracy theories.
I further understand the NFL’s stake in ensuring the most marketable names are standing on two feet next week – AND enjoying their place on highlight films around the sports world.
In fact, I think the suspicion that the 32 guys comprising the POSSE (Paranoid Owners Seeking Some Earnings) care about the bottom line far more than the competitive integrity of the product is a virtual realism.
“Just Win Baby” has become “Just Sell Baby” …..
I’m sure the ownership groups representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers have little interest in seeing Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger or the Manning brothers win another Super Bowl.
However, I’d bet they’re hoping to be in the position of one of those teams within the next decade, and they would like to ensure their most marketable name is on the field – selling jerseys and tickets.
The NFL is a different world than other sports …..
In October, 2019, the Yankees and Red Sox will be playing playoff baseball. The same can probably be said for the Lakers and Celtics and their postseason. But, ten years ago, the Colts were just enjoying their first dominating season, in Indianapolis. And, the Patriots had ZERO Super Bowl rings.
A lot of things change in a decade. So, I can see the financial hope and speculation in supporting rules that ensure the game’s biggest stars remain stars, from a marketing perspective. If the Jacksonville Jaguars land the next Peyton Manning, he could make them a viable moneymaking entity, IN JACKSONVILLE.
Okay, the Jags might head for L.A. within the next couple years. But, I’ll guarantee a quarterback of Peyton Manning’s magnitude would appeal to football fans, in Southern California, too.
I have absolutely no doubt the NFL’s owners are driven by greed and money-making potential when instituting these rules that make the quarterback nearly as insulated as the President of the United States.
Surely, I exaggerate. But, you get it, right?
I will respectfully disagree with some of my colleagues – I don’t think the owners are so inspired to protect the quarterbacks, at all costs, in the name of winning. And, I have a few examples to support my argument.
It’s difficult to imagine any team is so dependent on ONE PLAYER …..
The New England Patriots won 11 games, last year, with the hands of a kid at quarterback who never started a game, since high school. The 2007 version of the Cleveland Browns amassed 10 wins with a guy who was cut by a division rival.
A very competent veteran in Jeff Garcia has started and won games for 6 NFL franchises, over the past 7 seasons.
NFL teams don’t need BIG NAME quarterbacks to be successful.
But, the BIG NAME quarterbacks do promote the NFL product. They’re the faces of the league and the blunt reality is this ability to spawn profit is obviously more important than the integrity of what happens on the field.
If you doubt me, consider this …..
A quick glance at Sunday’s recaps evidenced ZERO “Roughing The Passer” penalties in the Redskins/Bucs & Titans/Jaguars games. Now, I’m not going to comb through every single play of every single game. But, I’m pretty sure you know where I’m headed …..
Should I simply assume no defensive players brushed-up against Jason Campbell, Josh Johnson, Kerry Collins or David Garrard? Or, maybe, these guys didn’t jump up and down like Arnold Horshack, from Welcome Back Kotter fame – while crying “he touched me !!!!!”
How masculine of Tom Brady, huh?
Instead of inspiring and rallying his teammates with a cool demeanor, he was flailing around like some baby’s mama hailing a hack, on a North Avenue corner. Real cool, Tom.
And, I’m not buying the “hey, it worked – he got the yellow flag thrown.”
After four games, I’m pretty convinced Tom Brady is very worried about that fragile knee and less worried about 45 feet of free real estate and a new set of downs. He’s doing everything possible to avoid getting hit.
There was a time when I really appreciated the surgeon-like capabilities of Tom Brady. These days, I see a guy who specializes in scolding his teammates for the world to see, while doing anything to avoid a short trip to the ground.
In wrapping this up, I’m inclined to finally clarify my feelings on the outcome of Sunday’s loss. I cannot fathom hanging the balance of any game on one single play. But, I also don’t subscribe to the suggestions the referees’ poor calling didn’t impact the outcome, either.
That’s just not accurate.
They made plenty of calls that extended scoring drives for the Patriots. This absolutely matters. The result cannot be changed, but the referees had a hand in the circumstances of this loss.
That’s it, I’m done with it. I’m ready for the Bengals.
But, I won’t forget Sunday’s debacle. I behaved like an ass. Tom Brady behaved like a baby. And, the referees ….. well, they behaved like a group of guys who’d never done their jobs, at such a high level, before.
Enough said, and lets just hope Carson Palmer hasn’t joined the NFL’s “Endangered Species” list, too ……