Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There will be no Super Bowl XLIX

     I am sure there will be a game played, but it won’t be watched by me and it won’t be a “Super Bowl.”  The Deflate-gate of the New England Patriots has sullied the glamour of this year’s big game, and it is an insult to every football fan in the country. 
     What should be the punishment for a team cheating to win their way into the Super Bowl?  Well, it should be disqualification, but we can expect that from a league that turns a blind eye to head coaches paying bounties to players who purposefully injure opposing players, or players who engage in domestic violence, or fight their pet dogs to death, or defensive linemen who (after seven previous dirty hits) intentionally step on the injured calf of a downed quarterback; no, to this league, the game (translation: money) is far more important than fair sportsmanship, on or off the field.
     I know I am generating hate mail as I write this, but ask yourselves, in the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, does this, “Teach Your Children Well”?  Think about the money that changed hands last Sunday in both legal and illicit gambling.  Think about the Fantasy Football games won and lost on fictitious statistics.  And for those who say, “You can’t take the W off the board,” or “What’s the difference,” or “At Least the Pats are in,” I say if you condone this, then you forfeit your right to cry, “No Fair!” next time some misfortune befalls your life.
     I hear the whisperings of those who say, “You can’t fault the whole team for what some equipment handler did” (I am sure the Patriots are at this moment lining up a patsy to take the blame), but the whole issue was brought to life when D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Tom Brady’s pass and instantly knew the ball was under inflated.  Now he handled the ball one time, so you think the center, Ryan Wendell, the quarterback Tom Brady, all of the running backs and all of the receivers didn’t know?  And what about the one ball kept at full pressure so the kickers had a hard ball to kick?  This is a team conspiracy, plain and simple.
     There is hardly a sportswriter that does not tout the greatness of Tom Brady and the stellar career he has had leading the Patriots, but I say this tarnishes his greatness forever.  In an era where Pete Rose is banned from his much deserved place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, where Barry Bond’s records now have to be discounted due to his illegal doping, where Lance Armstrong had to cede his Tour de France championships, what do we do with Belichick and Brady?  This Win-no-matter-what-the-cost ideology that permeates the American culture needs to be stopped.  If Commissioner Goodell allows the Patriots to play (and you know he will), what does that say about us as a society, and as a civilization?
      No, there will be no Super Bowl XLIX on February 1st, at best, the game played will become the first Asterisk Bowl.  I feel sorry to the ancillary people hurt by this, the concessionaires, the innkeepers, the advertisers, the sportswriters and broadcasters, and all of the other people who depend on the money transacted as part of the biggest sports event in the United States, but the New England Patriots organization is at fault and need to be punished.  No, I won’t watch, and I extend my apology to the restaurateur and bar-keeper where I had intended to go, and the waitress who won’t get my tip. 
This is an affront to every one of us who watch and enjoy football.  Something needs to be done.        

     There is no “good” solution or punishment.  Maybe the league should access an Unsportsman-like Penalty against every rostered player on the Patriots: 15 yards times 46 dressed players = the Patriots have to gain 690 yards before they can score their first touchdown.  And as an extra layer of punishment, suspend Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the game and all of next season. 

     This ruined this year’s Super Bowl for me, and it should (if you were honest) ruin it for you too.  I ask, no I dare you to pass this along to every football fan you know and ask them to pass it along to everyone they know.  Maybe if we, the fans, stood together and made enough noise, the Patriots and teams everywhere will know we have seen enough cheating and want to see honest sports for a change.

     And to Commissioner Roger Goodell, think very carefully about what you need to do, the right to call the NFL “a professional sports entity” as well as your legacy as commissioner, hangs in the balance.