Needling The Winners: Football, Hypocrisy, and the next Patriots Scandal


By Shawn Stjean

One of the first critical acts children are capable of is to observe the often-wide gulf between how the adults around them speak, and how they act.  They do this unconsciously, even before they can articulate their conclusions.  And yeah, there’s a word for what they see *cough* in my title *cough*.

So what are they perceiving as the 2014 NFL season draws to a close?

1. Americans are, as always, at-any-cost ultra-competitive.  Ever hear “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”? If not, you didn’t grow up in the USA.  No one complains about stupid little endzone dances, or Gronk with his signature, juvenile spike of the ball following a touchdown, or “We’re number one” foam fingers or terrible towels, all of which would have been called poor sportsmanship by every previous generation of human beings to inhabit this planet.  Is it any surprise when we hear, then, in the wider culture, of wiretapping foreign governments and citizens’ phone calls, an income inequity between rich and poor that staggers the mind, and drone strikes? There’s a chilling consistency there.  Doesn’t Brady himself pull down more yearly salary than most of us could see in six lifetimes?  Um, unfair advantage, anyone?

2.  Football is a sport of deception.  Like chess.  Hell, like tennis, volleyball, or poker, with perhaps a bit more planning.  At its core level, it’s lying.  Are they going to run or pass?  Who’s getting the ball?  Will it be a trick play?  What do those signals mean?  What’s that hurry-up offense about, anyway?  We could have predicted something like another impending “cry foul” when Tom Brady had to remind reporters following the Ravens game that the Patriots do read the rulebook, and then take every advantage allowed them.  In an age where athletes are routinely busted for steroid use, beating their wives, and even murder, and yet are still valorized and lavished with 1000 times more media attention than a battalion of firefighters, doctors and nurses, or teachers, a few PSI more or less in a pigskin are supposed to matter?

3.  BUT we have fast become a culture of childish and narcissistic whiners.  There is nothing more pathetic than grown men playing drama queen after a play they didn’t execute, throwing up pointed fingers at opponents in a “He touched me!” gesture.  Well, maybe one thing.  And that’s a so-called news media with nothing better to do than fan the flames of outrage, because their very livelihoods depend on having a wide-open piehole every day.  Plus, they love to hear the sound of their own voices.  “Deflate-gate”. Wow, that is so incredibly clever, and not in the least predictable.  Like any number of headlines using the word “Balls.”

Grow up.  It’ a game.  None more so than the Super Bowl, which functions as much as a delivery device for advertising, not Football, as a pill does for Ritalin or a syringe does for saline, or a needle does for air.  For crying out loud.  Everybody loses.  Even Patriots.  Most of us lose more than we win.  And the last lesson any kid needs to take away from her or his role models is this: Fire up the Excuse Machine when you sense a loss coming.  Because the next logical step is to lay down and stop trying, ‘cuz if you lose it’s never your fault.

By the way, Kids, turn on any screen device and imbibe the clear message to drink, smoke, eat crap, waste your days on games and more TV, consume mindlessly, go into debt, go to work all day every day, pay the government and insurance companies half of all your earnings, BUT: don’t ever cheat.  That would be taking unfair advantage.

By definition, a football is a gasbag.  There’ a lot of that going around.

imageSuper Bowl Football

A Moment of Silence, Before the Spectacle Begins. . .


Amid ever-increasing commercialism of both professional sports and the holiday season in general, this is sobering to see.  My two favorite NFL teams will be battling it out today, in the latest in a long-standing tradition of AFC East grudge matches.  But the question of whether the New England Patriots can defeat the Buffalo Bills pales in comparison to the awesome gravity of Veteran’s Day itself, and its tribute to the real-world battles and wars fought outside relatively small arenas like Gillette Stadium, so that we Americans can continue to enjoy our very way of life.

The Patriots football organization has dedicated a permanently empty seat, above their south endzone, to American POWs and MIAs since World War I.

For those who will never get the opportunity to visit this small but important shrine, click and read the plaque in enlargement.  And take a moment today to acknowledge the veterans around you, living or dead, no matter what their age, service or conflict affiliation, length of service, or discharge status.  None of us wants war for any reason, right or wrong, and those who fight, and stand ready to fight, shoulder that burden for all of us.