Sports Media Musings: The NFL Is Insane; 3 Best Deflategate Pieces To Date

I woke up to a flat tire this morning, which was just great! So, I walked over to the local Dunkin’ Donuts (because I can’t afford to drop four dollars on Starbucks), and thought about a few things as I combed through my daily reads on my phone. Chief among these thoughts was whether or not Roger Goodell enacted the some form of the Patriot Act without anyone noticing? Was there a press release? Or, in reality, is the inconsistent way in which he operates just omnipotence masked by hilarious levels of incompetence?

If you’re on the fence about the idea, just see below:

The league was monitoring Marshawn Lynch’s responsibility to play nice with the media, I guess, because #MediaDay is an important event for the NFL (and its integrity, of course, because integrity is like the bloodline of professional American sports and stuff!). And Marshawn Lynch is not bigger than #MediaDay; despite the fact that, in actuality, he kind of is, because #MediaDay is horrible and mostly stupid.

I mean, the whole point of #MediaDay is so the wacky, fish-out-of-the-water media can interact with players. These idiots serve as tiny vessels that, through slap-stick comedy akin to “Dumb and Dumber To” (not a compliment), display the human side of robots like Kam Chancelor and Bill Belichick.

The end game works out well for nearly every party involved. The league gets stupid Buzzfeed articles (THE 27 CRAZIEST QUESTIONS ASKED AT #MEDIADAY!!!) that purportedly help build up excitement for the average non-football fan who watches the Super Bowl; the players get to field questions that don’t start with “Talk about” (e.g. instead of “Talk about that play where” … the wonky media outlets ask Jonas Gray about his favorite Power Ranger growing up or something); and the media gets what it covets most – content!! – all while the Jimmy Olsens out there still maintain their PROFESSIONALISM while cackling at the idea of Rob Gronkowski singing Katy Perry songs, like the rest of us.

All very serious stuff.

So, yeah, MONITORING. Totally necessary here. Fucking insane.

***

In other (non) news, Deflategate – finally, almost mercifully — took a day off yesterday. Like most, I’ve consumed way too much coverage of this ongoing topic. And despite the overblown hysteria that has surrounded each and every development, without question, it has been an interesting story from several vantage points.

So, with no clear advances in the story on the horizon, I picked out what I felt have been the three best pieces from this entire fiasco thus far. These columns don’t necessarily outline any resolution, but in a vacuum, they offer commentary about the story and the current state of sports (and the media who covers it):

“The Worst Question in Sports: What We Talk About When We Say ‘Talk About’” by Bryan Curtis

Ever wonder why reporters ask the same benign questions? Yeah, me too. And Curtis, who is excellent, writes a phenomenal piece about an oldie but a goodie: the “Talk About” question (that’s not really a question).

Pull Quote:

“This is perhaps the only defensible Talk About: The one that puts the athlete or coach at ease by showing him you’re interested in what he has to say.”

 “Bill Belichick doubles down on Patriots’ innocence in deflate-gate, dares NFL to prove him wrong” by Dan Wetzel

For my money, Wetzel paints a setting better than anyone else in sports journalism. This piece, published hours after Bill Belichick’s defiant press conference last Saturday, does exactly that:

Pull Quote:

“Whether or not that’s enough to explain deflate-gate away for you, at least try to appreciate the situation:

This was straight Original Gangster stuff by Belichick, a full-on punch to the face of the league office he has long despised and believes turns nearly every molehill into a mountain either because of general football incompetence or to drive television ratings.”

“Deflategate: Some Perspective, Please?” by Don Banks

Every time this story jumps the shark – and I’ve counted at least four separate occasions that this has happened – go back and read this piece on SI from Banks. It was published just hours before Bill Belichick went AP Physics on us.

Pull Quote:

“I find it deflating that the NFL rule book has grown so complex and obtuse that it makes the U.S. tax code look like light summer reading.

Remember when the league’s biggest problem was mainly that the Super Bowl was overhyped and always sucked? Ah, the good old days.”

***

That’s that. As always, thanks for reading. More to come. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Bob Kraft Lectured the Media, NFL For Faulty Reporting; Prompts More Hawt Sports Takes

There was a moment, Monday afternoon, when the media collectively shrugged.

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” conceded Michael Felger, host of the popular afternoon sports radio program “Felger & Mazz.” Ben Volin, who has penned stories with screeching headlines like “Bill Belichick throws Tom Brady under the bus” for the Boston Globe, sat alongside Felger, with co-host Tony Massarotti and update guy Marc Bertrand, and admitted that he didn’t even trust his own previous stories/sources.

(Glad he’s here!)

Never has the take “No One Knows Anything” seemed so genius.

This was all after the Jay Glazer story changed the Deflategate narrative, yet again, with news that the NFL had identified a “person of interest” and that it had obtained some sort of corresponding video evidence. By now, you know how the rest of this debacle unfolds: Robert Kraft, the suddenly embattled Patriots owner who the collective media demanded speak – that guy? – yeah, he spoke.

Kraft lit the NFL and the media who covers it on fire. 700 foot flames of glory. It was the HAWT SPORTS TAKE that the likes of whom he lectured wish they could concoct themselves. And we, the fans, the onlookers, the ones who DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS ALL WORKS!, gathered around and enjoyed delicious smores.

“…In direct contrast to the public discourse which has been driven by media leaks, as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jump to conclusions and made strong accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff, questioning the integrity of all involved.

If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they’€™ve had to endure this past week.

I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled, and reported upon. We expect hard facts, as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to draw the conclusion of this investigation.”

Shortly after, more reports leaked; this time, revealing that the aforementioned video evidence was of an equipment manager taking the game balls into a bathroom … for all of 90 seconds.

That’s where we are. But, of course, Kraft’s lecture only prompted more awful hawt sport takes.

Let’s start where this whole mess began, with Bob Kravitz:

“He wants an apology. That’s right, Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants an apology if the NFL’s investigation turns up nothing untoward in what has become to be known internationally as Deflategate. That’s precious. Truly, it is.”

I love when sports scribes write like they’re talking to infants. WHO’S A SILLY LITTLE OWNER, YOU ARE. YESSS, YOU ARE.

Let me say this: Whatever happens at the end of this investigation, nobody owes the Patriots or Kraft or the ball boys an apology. The league simply is doing what it’s supposed to do, investigating claims that the Patriots doctored their footballs in a way that circumvented league rules.

Yes, the league completely handled this the right way, protecting the INTEGRITY of the GAME. So what if they leaked reports that helped shape a pre-disposed outcome on the eve of the Super Bowl? No matter! No crying over spilled integrity.

Personally, I have no skin in the game.

Except for a few more TV and radio appearances; maybe a book.

When you get into journalism, you give up your fan card.

How tone-deaf are you, Bob? Really, we’re going over the pillars of sports journalism right now? Because this has been a banner week for modern-day journalism, ethics, and due process. Tool.

Speaking of aimless conjecture, drivel, and nonsense, we already discussed Dan Shaughnessy’s beautiful disaster yesterday, in which he claimed the Patriots “already lost the game that matters,” But Dan doubled down in today’s edition of the Globe.

If the Patriots are champions and did everything by the book, they have been unfairly targeted and characterized.

Characterized by whom? The lack of self-accountability here is astonishing. But go on ….

Sorry, Patriots fans, but what was true Thursday is true today. Locally, this could wind up being the favorite Patriot team of all time, but nationally their legacy is tarnished

So, the Belichick press conference on Saturday and Robert Kraft diatribe changed nothing? Really? OK. While we’re here, since the media loves to play the “IF-THEN” game, let’s play too: Presuming Kraft wouldn’t double down last night without some certainty that the NFL doesn’t have enough to overcome the burden of proof, then the media’s legacy is forever tarnished.

(To reiterate from yesterday: Shank telling us what the Patriots future legacy will hold is incredible. How will we remember Deflategate tomorrow is uncertain, never mind in 2022.)

But there’s more! Tony Massarotti, writing for CBS Sports, TAKE IT AWAY:

Let’s be honest, folks: a year from now, maybe two, maybe four … there will be another accusation. With Belichick, there always is.

Is there? Or is this the “The Scarlet Letter” and some twisted, hybrid version of Sports McCarthyism?

***

Let me pose the question to you guys, the readers: When it’s all said and done, do you think that Deflategate will have a lasting impact on the Patriots legacy or in the way in which the contemporary media covers sports?

More to come. @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Dan Shaughnessy’s Beautiful Disaster Arrived Last Week, And It’s Glorious

Oh, hey there. So, it has been a while since I’ve written in this space, hasn’t it? Did I miss anything? Deflated balls, you say? OK. Well, then, I suppose now is as good as time as ever to BLOG IT UP on all things media and sports and the DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED????? hysteria that has consumed the Super Bowl coverage up until this point.

Programming alert: Wait a minute, no one wants to read any more coverage of this wildly overblown scandal?

OK, fair. Instead, let’s have some fun with it. Where should we look? (THINKING) How about Dan Shaughnessy? Has he weighed in yet? Oh, he wrote a column that can only be described as glorious for longtime readers of BSMW.? This should be fun.

But before we start, it should be stated that Shaughnessy is hardly the only “damage is already done” guy in town. Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, among others, have already managed to cast aspersions on Bill Belichick and the entire Patriots organization, proclaiming “IT’S OVER!”

Amazing. This is all happening, despite the fact that nothing’s officially been charged. Of course, when the Globe’s appointed “voice of the fan” puts down the tomato cans for a minute to make such denouncements, then we might as well start planning the funeral.

RIP Legacy. I’ll always wonder what could’ve been. Take it away, Shank:

“We haven’t even gotten to Arizona yet and the mission is already lost.”

Oh?

… Well, then: EVACUATE.

“Mike Wilbon of ESPN is calling for the Patriots to vacate the Super Bowl, Calipari-style.”

Which, given that the NFL has still yet to officially charge the Patriots with any wrongdoing, seemed like a totally reasonable Hawt Sports Take that was criticized by absolutely no one, right?

“… the most important thing — the Patriot legacy — is lost.”

A few things here: First, and this is a common theme, is that (again) no charges have been made. Nothing. No matter. BURN THE LEGACY.

Secondly, this may be the most prosperous statement ever written in the history of print publication. A legacy is a hackneyed term that refers to an “enduring image” of an entity. Naturally, this forms over time; yet, amazingly, Shank is letting you know how we’re going to discuss the Patriots in 2022 today. Moreover, that Deflategate, an ongoing story with no clear resolution, will DOMINATE any talks of championships and GLORY and happiness in the future. He is definitive. Which is so incredible.

Go on, how will this impact us, the fans, Dan?

“The Patriots and their fans will never win the “best ever” argument.”

Awwww! We’ll never win a completely subjective argument now??? Sad face ;-(

“Everything is tainted.”

Yet, nothing has been charged? So, how could this be?! I must know.

“Footballs (reportedly) have been doctored …”

Parenthetical salient point! (Dually noted!)

“… headlines have been written, and opinions have been formed.”

This is coming from the same guy who made a name for himself writing about a fictional curse. Methinks, since curses aren’t real, that most of his work around the subject was, you know, OPINION. And once the “curse” was broken, those OPINIONS changed.

In short, “opinions have been formed” is never a good argument. Never mind that lesson, though; because, if the Patriots are exonerated, the comedic mileage out of this entire column could have a longer-lasting legacy than Deflategate itself.

… And, suddenly, this piece is hilarious. Regardless, tell me more (about your opinions!).

 “Locally, the Patriots are revered. Nationally, they are loathed and branded as cheaters, and once again they have handed the hammer to their legion of enemies.”

Translation: You love the Patriots, people of New England, because of your insular, small-minded viewpoints. But, oh boy, lemme just tell you something! If you could just see what kind of talk is going on Out There, you’d change your tune. Mark Brunell’s spilled TEARS OF ANGER over this. And Wilbon??? It’s worth repeating that he wants to kick you out of the big game all together!

“We still don’t know where “Deflategate” lands. The NFL has yet to disclose its findings and announce penalties (if any) against the Patriots.”

This just feels like it should be mentioned before the fifth paragraph of this missive. Moving along.

“But the ballgame that matters is over.”

It is?

“And the Patriots have lost.”

NOOOOOOOOOOO.

Quick aside: we managed to find exclusive deleted prose from this Pulitzer shoe-in, straight from the cutting room floor over in the Globe offices. Be excited:

“You may think Wilbon, or Brunell, or Ray Lewis, or Troy Aikman are being unreasonable. Maybe you feel their suggested punishments are far too extreme. But do me a favor, will ya? Listen to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica on repeat until the Super Bowl.

I’m serious. Listen to it when you wake up, and then as you’re falling asleep. Listen to the classic hit in the shower, as you brush your teeth, and during your commute. Don’t talk during dinner, instead listen to the song again while eating (that is, if you can hold your dinner down).

And when you think you’ve had enough … then listen some more.

As you start to understand, let James Hetfield’s words take affect: Never cared for what they say/ Never cared for games they play/ Never cared for what they do/ Never cared for what they know.

Feel the hopelessness. Let it sink in. Then think about what the Patriots (reportedly!) have done. Now look in the mirror. Face yourself, your inner demons. Watch your face morph into sad despair (AGAIN). Why is this happening?

It’s simple: Because you can’t rig the real game – no, peasants, not that whole Super Bowl thing — the game of sports debates about legacies. That’s truth.

And nothing else matters. Fin.

 “At this hour, even if the Patriots are cleared of wrongdoing, they are the modern-day sports equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Labor, Ray Donovan, who asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?’’ after he was declared not guilty in a corruption case.”

It’s exactly like that!

“There doesn’t seem to be much dispute that footballs used by the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship were doctored. By somebody.”

Except for the Bill Belichick press conference that took place a day after you published this column. But that doesn’t count, because this came first, and it had an OPINION and a HEADLINE. Both of which were formed. Too little, too late.

“The Patriots could beat the Colts in a game played with Wiffle Balls, bowling balls, or medicine balls.”

You know what? I’ve heard this point made before, and you’re completely right, so what’s the big deal?

“If you walk into your local 7-Eleven and see the back page of the New York Post screaming, “CHEATERS,’’ you cannot make it all go away by claiming jealousy.”

OH NO, THE HEADLINES again! I almost forgot. And the opinions too – shit, Dan! — THEY HAVE FORMED.

To be completely fair, I know that whenever I need research to debate who the greatest of all time is, I immediately run to the New York Post archives for ammunition and insight. Who doesn’t? Fine journos, over there at the NYP!

And hey, on the plus side, at least Shank’s not being condescending about this.

“How does the legion of Patriot toadies defend this?”

Scratch that. VOICE OF THE FAN, everyone!

“Belichick has already said he did not know anything about the deflated balls until he was told about them Monday. Could this possibly be true?”

It’s possible, yes.

“The next 48 hours will be interesting.”

+1,000 for Dan. Nailed this. All the way.

“By any measure, this is a colossal embarrassment for Kraft.”

Are there measurements for embarrassment?

“He loves the journey and the Klieg lights, but now his franchise has been tainted again. It matters greatly to the Patriots’ image-obsessed owner.”

Let’s stop here, because I love this. To review, Shank spends hundreds of words on how important Deflategate is, not just in the here and now, but also in the future. The team’s legacy is destroyed – NOTHING YOU DO FROM NOW ON MATTERS — then takes a pot-shot at Bob Kraft for caring about the situation and his organization’s image. Like Oh, THE AUDACITY. He cares what the entire world thinks of him. He’s so superficial.

Dan, this whole thing – literally the entire column – is about caring what other people think of the Patriots. And that, as fans, we don’t get the hatred that exists outside our bubble; that the important thing here – one’s LEGACY — is formed on OPINIONS. And then, you wag your finger at Kraft for being “image obsessed.”

***

More to come. Happy Super Bowl week everyone.

@Hadfield__.