… How did I get here?
I had a sudden realization earlier this week that sort of rocked me. Perhaps it was an epiphany. Either way, it began an hour or so after listening to Tom Brady get all gushy about his personal trainer-slash-guru, then all preachy about his health regimen and reached full-blown ‘holy shit’ proportions a few days later.
It started with the news last weekend that Brady’s guy had been banned for life by the FTC for selling a supplement that cured …. everything and anything that was terminal. Indeed, he and his infomercial partners claimed that out of 200 terminal with a Pandora’s box of ailments clients, only eight died. It was that stuff you see being sold while you’re flipping through Seinfeld and Star Trek Next Generation reruns at 2:30 am. Oh, and Brady’s guy claimed to be a doctor.
Okay, fine, that’s was thirteen, fourteen years ago and I, most certainly, am the first one to say, ‘okay you fucked up, let’s move on.’ However – you just knew there was a however – he got slapped again in 2012 for pushing a drink that helped prevent concussions. Neurosafe. Powder, when mixed with presumably water and ingested regularly it was supposed to minimize the effects of a concussion.
By the way, Wes Welker endorsing a concussion prevention powder is pretty much like using Lou Gehrig to push an ALS cure.
Brady was asked about this on WEEI sports radio Monday morning, his response was predictable, if not a little creepy. His trainer/guru/business partner/kid’s godfather is an amazing trainer, masseuse, nutritional expert, and a whole lot more.
Again, fine, every fabulously wealthy family has the right to have it’s very own Rasputin. What could possibly go wrong with that?
But, Brady went on to explain how Western medicine is lacking. As he grew up one hell of a high school athlete in two sports, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he did so without having to fight off polio, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and small pox.
I can handle that, though, it’s not like you can’t find that stuff on Facebook feeds all day everyday. Brady, though, went a step further and talked about how ‘ridiculous’ it was that athletes had Tommy John surgery and ACL replacements, strongly indicating that those injuries were the athletes fault, they weren’t prepared.
This pissed me off, but it’s not the epiphany. It pissed me off because it’s a ridiculous assumption, he’s playing (great) today because his torn ACL was replaced (via Western medicine), and I had my ACL torn 25 years ago in a combination of artificial turf, really good shoes, and getting hit exactly right by a large human that nothing could have prevented save not driving to New York that morning.
All this stuff came out Monday morning. It was re-aired several times. Some people came down on Brady, more, a lot more, rose to his defense and, because he’s won 4 Superbowl titles and is married to a supermodel, began a long litany of completely and utterly bashing Western medicine. I mean, a guy with those accomplishments must know everything, right?
Thus the epiphany began. I’ve been a Patriots fan since the early 70s. Had no choice, really, there were only a couple of games on a week, my father was a Giants fan, so …
… the Pats it was. They sucked and they were fun. They fumbled and bumbled, were run by an Irish American family that wasn’t about to remind anyone of the Kennedys – or any half-way successful family of any ilk, for that matter. They built a new stadium for about $14.95, the day it opened the toilets backed up and, well, it was ugly. They also lost 31-7.
I was there the afternoon they clinched their first AFC East Division title in 1978. We got tickets that day, the upper stands were far from filled. It was cold, had a white-out snow squall in the second half, the temperature dropped, they had to come from behind against a woeful Buffalo Bills team (is that redundant?) and we stood for most of the game – not from excitement but because the stadium had aluminum bleachers – no seats.
Their coach resigned the next day, they had co-coaches for, surprise, their only playoff game.
They alternated between loveable losers to flat-out incompetents to marginal playoff contenders. We had to cheer for individual ‘stars’ the great-and-would-have-been-greater-if-for-better-teammates Sam the Bam, the tiny Mack Herron, the too-tough-for-his-own-good Steve Grogan, the franchise’s greatest pre-Belicheck player, John Hannah. It probably says it all when your best player is an offensive guard.
A few good things happened, somehow they got to the Super Bowl to be fodder for the Bears and … well, maybe a few others. Mostly, they provided entertainment and the occasional hope.
That’s my epiphany. Somewhere in the last 15 years I’ve gone from cheering for the loveable underdogs to cheering for a team with a fan base so spoiled by winning, so steeped in the mystique of the Patriot way, that if Tom Brady or Bill Belicheck suddenly announced that they sacrificed a virgin to insure a victory over Peyton Manning, their approval rating would be around 60% (with another 9.8% undecided while debating the definition of ‘virgin’) by their fanbase.
I’ve realized that somewhere along the line I traded in the Tony Eason deer-in-the-headlights Patriots for the 1947-1964 New York Yankees. Bloodless, unemotional, business is everything, unsentimental, unsympathetic, unapologetic winners. As Joe E. Lewis said, “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel.”
I’m suddenly, after 50 something years, on the side of the bullies and today’s NFL doesn’t have lovable losers any more. Instead, they have a ton of mindless, joyless mediocrity, and a whole lot of excuse making. “The balls were .2 psi below regulation;” “the crowd was too noisy,” “the GM texted the coach during a game,” “the lights went out,” “they broke an unwritten rule,” “they announced the change to 80,000 people but we missed it,” “they had bounties on us,” and so, so much more.
The only thing that keeps me from bagging the whole thing is that, like the corporations in Rollerball (the original, please) the NFL and the other owners have had it with the Patriots for not playing the three, five years of good and rebuild, the league, schedules, and draft are built on.
Okay, so they’re a bully – a really big bully – being picked at by a bunch of bullies unused to being bullied.
I’m not sure what direction to go from here. Not sure it matters with the Cubs close to the World Series and the apocalypse that will surely immediately follow should they win.
I’ve made no decisions. But I really hope Brady plays until he’s 50, because, based on his evangelical explanation of his diet, he’s going to be really insufferable when talking about it is all he has to do all week.