If you ever want to get punched in the face, walk up to a Patriots fan and tell him he has a persecution complex. In case he doesn’t take the bait right away, throw in a few baby noises, and offer to call him a waaaahm-bulance. Chances are you’ll end up in the emergency room with a team of doctors laboring to remove a beer bottle from a place it doesn’t belong.
Because, you see, Patriots fans know their history. They read. They study. They remember details. They’re not afraid to call you out when you get it wrong. And based on their grip of the facts, they know without doubt that, in the NFL, there is one set of rules for the Patriots, and a completely different set for the other 31 teams.
Don’t believe me? In an October 15, 2012 game against the Broncos, the San Diego Chargers were caught using towels that contained a tacky substance similar to Stickum. Furthermore, an equipment manager initially tried to conceal the towels from an official who was asking to see them.
After a three-week investigation, the NFL determined that the towels were made by a company called Gorilla Gold, and contained a grip enhancer which was not banned by the league at the time. While there does seem to be an innocuous explanation for the whole thing, it sure didn’t look good immediately after it happened. In fact, it looked for all the world like the Chargers were guilty.
Everything was in place: a banned substance, a shady equipment manager trying to hide the evidence, and sternly-worded denials from the team. It had all the makings of a full-blown scandal.
No prime-time news coverage. No feature-length articles on ESPN.com. No presumption of guilt. No speculation on how much of the Chargers’ success could be attributed to their Stickum use. No tests by reporters to determine if they would notice Stickum on a football as a way of gauging quarterback Philip Rivers’ guilt. No suggestions of suspensions for Rivers, coach Norv Turner, or anyone else. No statements from the NFL, or from other owners or coaches. No leaks from the league hinting towards the Chargers’ guilt. No aggressive questioning of Chargers players or coaches from reporters in fact, there were almost no questions at all.
And then there’s the December, 2014 game between the Vikings and Panthers, in which the footballs were heated up using hand warmers during the game (which is illegal, provides a competitive advantage, and, incidentally, raises the PSI of the footballs), and in which both teams were let off with a warning.
The above were minor stories, which many people are not aware of to this very day.
“Well, that’s understandable, because the Patriots already had a history of cheating when the deflated football thing happened,” you say.
Oh, you mean wrong-locationgate? If you’re bringing this up as proof of anything, my guess is that you don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, what Spygate even is, so please click on the link and do some reading. And your theory is incorrect anyway.
Is this how you think scandals work? That you get a complete free pass on the first one, and a torch-wielding, bloodthirsty mob on the second? If so, how do you explain the collective shrug we gave to the Seattle Seahawks, who were just caught for the third time violating the same rule regarding practices? According to your theory, after the third offense, there should have been 375 reporters camped out in Pete Carroll’s backyard, shoving microphones in his face as he walked outside to get the morning paper. And yet, again, a yawn.
And how do you explain the indifference we showed the Denver Broncos after they violated the salary cap twice in three years in order to gain a financial advantage, especially since, during that same timeframe, the Broncos were also caught coating their arms in Vaseline during a game in order to gain a competitive advantage on the field, and were additionally busted trying to conceal a rib injury to John Elway by illegally leaving him off the injury report? The Broncos were found guilty, fined, and/or lost draft picks for all of the above and oh, by the way, the Broncos also lead the NFL with 12 PED violations since 2003, not including some very ominous-looking allegations against Peyton Manning and yet, we seem hesitant to draw any conclusions about the team’s disregard for the rules, and the media and general public seem uninterested. Why? Isn’t “history” your explanation for the media freakout over deflated footballs? And don’t the Broncos have more history than anyone?
But never mind all that. Go back and do some research on Spygate. When it was announced that the Patriots were videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals and that the NFL was investigating, broadcasters and pundits reacted like teenage girls at a One Direction concert. It was in the news for weeks. Almost 10 years later, “Spygate” still gets 221,000 hits on a Google search, and has its very own Wikipedia page. Why? There was no history of infractions at that point. Bill Belichick’s team had never been accused of, let alone found guilty of, any wrongdoing prior to Spygate, and it was still one of the biggest NFL stories of the year. So your theory doesn’t fly.
Why don’t you just admit to yourself that the Patriots win too much, that when they aren’t winning the Super Bowl they are coming damn close to doing so, that everyone in the NFL, from the commissioner to the other 31 owners, hate the lack of parity in the league, and that, since it’s nearly impossible to beat the Patriots on a football field, their adversaries have resorted to a microscopic analysis of the rulebook in an effort to find any threadbare justification for draconian punishments, which they believe will lead to diminished success?
It remains clear to any Patriots fan, and anyone else paying attention, that the tear-stricken howls about the “integrity of the game” ring hollow, that common sense alone dictates that minute reductions of the air pressure inside a football couldn’t possibly change the outcome of a game, and even if it could, other, similarly minor infractions are met with total apathy by everyone involved, even the so-called victims who are supposedly affected by them.
Need I even say it: There is a double standard. If an offense is committed by anyone except the New England Patriots, no one cares. If you’re a Patriots fan, this angers you. No, it enrages you. You want to focus on your team and its accomplishments. You want to enjoy Patriots football, but you’re constantly taunted by ignorant assholes who, after a few cursory glances at articles in Sports Illustrated, think they know all the facts, and are absolutely certain that all four of the Patriots’ hard-earned Lombardi Trophies are “tainted”.
You want to hit these people. You want to run their faces over a cheese grater and then soak them in rubbing alcohol. They won’t listen to reason! They refuse to understand! Or, worse yet, they do understand and continue to spread lies to anyone within earshot!
Which brings me to Hillary Clinton.
Let me talk to you Patriots fans for a minute.
Maybe you support Trump, or maybe you’re undecided, but don’t feel right about Hillary. Ask yourself why.
More likely than not, you’ll give me an earful about emails. Or Benghazi. Or the Clinton Foundation. Or my personal favorite that Bill and Hillary Clinton are mass murderers.
We’ve heard of these scandals for so long and so often that our reaction has become conditioned: “Benghazi”, “email” and “Clinton Foundation” are trigger words, shorthand utterances thrown out in place of an actual argument, the same way Jets fans shout “cheaters!” and then run away before you can respond.
Hillary’s detractors don’t want to discuss the email “scandal” for the same reason Patriot haters avoid the details about Spygate: The more you dig, the less you find.
Despite well over a year of hysterical screaming, only one claim against Hillary has even a hint of validity: That classified information was potentially mishandled. Much has been made, for example, of the fact that Hillary used a personal address for office email, but this is perfectly legal and has been done frequently in the past, including by Republicans such as Colin Powell, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, and others. Almost reminds you of how scouting opponents’ defensive signals is legal and quite common, and how Roger Goodell himself admits it, but somehow maddeningly it doesn’t seem to matter.
It’s illegal to discuss classified information without taking proper safeguards, the same way it’s illegal for a doctor to discuss a patient’s private health information in an open area where others might hear. A doctor can be punished for doing this, but of course, there is a huge difference between absentmindedly forgetting to close a door and selling Kim Kardashian’s patient file to the National Enquirer. The former is simple carelessness; the latter is a deliberate criminal act.
Even Hillary’s harshest detractors don’t claim she was intentionally leaking / sharing / selling confidential information; once you cut through the hair-on-fire rhetoric, all they’re really claiming is that she was careless. In fact, the FBI report uses that exact word.
“But what about the deleted emails?” you ask. Yes, Hillary’s attorneys delivered over 30,000 emails to the State Department and deleted about the same number of “personal” emails that they claimed were not relevant to the investigation.
“AHA!” you scream. “Why would she delete emails? Why would she do that? She must be hiding something! Guilty! GUILTY!” and, of course, I am instantly reminded of the Gary Tanguays of the world, who screamed just as loudly that, if Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone, that he must be hiding something. But you defended Brady, didn’t you?
Yep, you did.
The truth is, you’re reaching. You have less on Hillary than Goodell had on Brady. At least in Brady’s case, there was an allegation, albeit a flimsy one, that there was a scheme to let little puffs of air out of game balls, so there was a possible motive for Brady to destroy evidence. In this case, neither Hillary, nor anyone else at the State Department, is even accused of anything specific. You’re implying that she destroyed evidence without claiming that a crime was even committed!
At most, Hillary is guilty of being less careful than she should have been. And now, I’m sure you’ll put on your most somber face and tell me that nothing is more important than protecting our nation’s confidential data, and that we need presidents who are going to take that seriously, but all I’ll see is Roger Goodell’s face, his forehead wrinkled with concern, saying that nothing is more important than the integrity of the game we all love, and I’ll reject your argument the same way you rejected Goodell’s.
Are you sensing a pattern yet?
Benghazi? Take a deep breath and do some reading. Wash away the toxic discourse, and you’ll find that the only charge of any validity against Hillary is that the embassy requested funding for extra security prior to the attack, and their request was denied. Of course, Hillary herself never saw the request, the same way the chairman of JP Morgan Chase does not see every loan application, and the State Department does not have a limitless supply of money to grant every single request it receives. But assume just for a moment that it was granted: The embassy was stormed by 150 men armed with RPGs and assault rifles. Unless the embassy requested a fleet of Humvees and an Apache helicopter, the extra security wouldn’t have made a difference as tragic as that is.
Yes, it was beyond horrible that four people died in those attacks. And the situation was rightly looked into. But the Senate took this to an extreme, forming a “Select Committee” in May, 2014, which then took two years and $3.3 million to complete its investigation. I can’t help but be reminded of the outrage all of Patriot Nation felt when we saw that Roger Goodell formed a kind of Select Committee of his own, which took four months and $5 million to complete its work. We lamented the colossal waste of money, the ridiculously long investigation, and the obviously biased way in which it was conducted. I level the same allegations against those conducting the Benghazi inquest, while you seem to have embraced them with open arms.
And lastly, we have the Clinton Foundation. The main allegation here is that there is a conflict of interest, that the Clintons accepted donations to their foundation from individuals who had business before the State Department while Hillary was Secretary of State. While this is true, it is absolutely false that the Clintons derive any personal benefit from the Foundation. They do not collect a salary or any other form of payment, and it ought to be patently obvious that there can’t be a pay for play scheme when there is no pay!
Now, it is true that the Clintons set up a a strict set of rules with the Obama administration that governed how the Foundation would communicate with donors, and how those communications would be reported, and after a thorough review, it is clear that those rules were not adhered to 100% of the time. But why do we insist that this automatically proves something sinister is going on? Again, if the Clintons do not personally benefit from the Foundation, what possible motive could they have for skirting their own rules? In fact, if they were up to no good, why would they have set the rules up in the first place?
That reminds me of a story.
On October 16, 2014, the Patriots played the Jets at Gillette Stadium. Jim McNally, the “Deflator”, as he called himself, delivered the footballs to the field. During the game, Tom Brady complained angrily that the balls felt like “f*cking bricks,” and sure enough, after the game, John Jastremski, the equipment manager, measured the balls and found them to be 16 PSI almost 3 pounds OVER the allowable limit. The obvious question here is, if the Patriots were deflating their footballs, then how did they get so far over the limit? Did McNally inflate them by accident?
But, more importantly, after the game, Brady instructed Jastremski to remind the officials about what the rules were. He went so far as to request that Jastremski show the rulebook to the officials with the PSI section highlighted.
Assume for a moment that Brady was guilty of illegally deflating footballs. Why on Earth would he call the referee’s attention to the PSI rules if he was doing such a thing? Brady’s own actions seem to exonerate him, as Hillary’s exonerate her.
The parallels just keep coming, as recently as last week’s debate. Trump was humiliated—were it a football game, the score would have been 63-6—but of course, Trump has never admitted to losing at anything; it must have been someone else’s fault, and so the blamestorming began. He had a faulty microphone. Lester Holt was biased. Hillary was mean to him. Some Trump supporters even suggested—get this—that Hillary was having answers fed to her over an earpiece!
Never mind that such a risky, elaborate scheme was totally unnecessary. The questions could’ve been predicted by an astute middle school student. Forget all that, and just realize that it’s a conspiracy theory regarding communication equipment.
Mike Tomlin’s Steelers lost to the Patriots in Foxboro in week 1, 2015, and after the game, Tomlin hinted darkly that the Patriots had knocked out the Steelers’ headsets. I, along with you, and anyone else with half a brain, immediately reminded the haters that the teams don’t control the headsets, the NFL does, and that anyone who believes otherwise is a tinfoil hat-wearing, moon-landing-was-a-hoax, grassy-knoll-dwelling conspiracy loon. And yet there you go, posting memes about Hillary’s earpiece.
Looks like you stopped thinking at halftime.