It’s not uncommon for people to be resentful of those who achieve great success. This is especially true in the tribal world of football fandom. One team’s success comes with an immediate price; the failure of another team. Each game has a winner, and a loser. For every division winner, there are the also-rans. Playoff berths, playoff wins, championships; in each situation, a team, and its fan base is left bitter, wanting.
When you achieve the kind of historical and unprecedented success that Bill Belichick’s Pats did during the Tom Brady era, you leave a lot of embittered fans in your wake. Probably the only fan base in the entire NFL that has no legitimate right to hate the Pats is that of the New York Giants. The rest of the league’s partisans can and do hate New England with fiery passion. Most fans, I’m certain, see it as their duty, to hate Brady and the Pats as much as they love their own team.
I never bought into all the New England/Tom Brady hating. As a football fan with no real team affiliation, I viewed the Belichick-Pats success with rapt fascination. As the years went on, and the team kept winning, it became clear to me that I was experiencing something truly special in sports history. With an ever-changing cast of characters, no real superstars, and the one constant of Brady behind Center, Belichick’s Pats managed for almost two decades to maintain a peak level of success in spite of a league that is programmed towards parity. All of this was due to an opponent-specific guiding philosophy that I will sum up thusly: On offense, take what you can, and on defense, take AWAY what THEY can.
This season, many football fans are reveling in the struggles of New England, and of Brady in Tampa. The Pats, bereft of Brady, victims of a free-agency exodus, ravaged by injuries and opt-outs, are but a shell of their former selves. Meanwhile Brady, in a setting of his own choosing, surrounded by elite receiving talent, has underachieved for reasons that are subject to much debate. Myself, as a football fan, I am merely fascinated by the situation, and am interested in how it plays out.
Or at least I was. COVID, and the manner in which the league has handled it, has cast a shadow of illegitimacy over this entire season. As a result, my interest has waned, in just about everything NFL-related.
With regards to New England, or Brady, when it comes to football fandom, to team loyalty and player adulation, you’re either going to love them or hate them. Me, I don’t care, in the context of football.
As people, however, that’s another matter.
I’m sure you all remember the incident almost two years ago when Pats owner Robert Kraft was swept up in a massage parlor sting in Florida. Several men, including Kraft, were accused of paying for sex acts. Specifically, Kraft was accused of paying for hand-jobs. There’s video footage apparently. News outlets have to use the term “alleged,” but I’m sure most are pretty confident it’s true. Can they, or any court prove that? Of course not. Although there is video footage, because Kraft is mega-rich, and can afford top-level legal representation, the charges against him were dropped. However, employees of the spa, including those who had Kraft as a client, were subjected to extreme legal consequences, including mandatory STI testing, and fines in the tens-of-thousands of dollars. All, mind you, for a crime that, from the perspective of Kraft, never happened. Think about that for a hot minute.
As for Brady, news broke late this week that his company, TB12, received almost a million dollars from the government’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP), an economic stimulus measure enacted to assist small businesses. As I understand it, the application for the loan was made in the Spring, at a time when TB12 was expanding into new locations. As I also understand it, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50% of businesses that applied were turned down. Brady, personally, has an estimated net worth of around $200,000,000. His wife is worth twice that.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the personal relationships that Kraft and Brady have with Donald Trump had anything to do with either of these situations. I just think that all of this, Trump’s presidency, Kraft’s immunity, Brady’s graft, are all indicative of the rot of American society, where money, power, access, so starkly divides the haves from the have-nots.
Even as we near the end of the sad travesty of the Trump presidency, power and access still rears its ugly head. It’s bad enough that the outgoing, lame-duck president has granted pardons to dubious recipients, but now there is discussion of the legality of his granting “pre-emptive pardons” to family and allies for crimes not yet charged.
That’s life in America for you, folks. A billionaire, a rich sports idol, a sociopathic con-man and his vile criminal family, soak up all the sunshine, and when it rains, they walk between the raindrops.
And we just sit idly by and watch.
No more, I say.
Ask yourself, “How will I resist?”
Week Thirteen Picks
Winners in Bold
Cleveland at Tennessee
LV at NYJ
Jax at Minnesota
Cincy at Miami
Indy at Houston
Detroit at Chicago
NO at Atlanta
NYG at Seattle
LAAries at Arizona
NE at LABolts
Philly at GB
Denver at KC
Washington at Pittsburgh
Buffalo at San Fran
Dallas at Baltimore