Deflating the game

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady faces questions from the media (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady faces questions from the media (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Champions don’t cut corners. They don’t make excuses. Champions don’t sneak, spy, or steal. Champions push themselves, challenge each other, and elevate the game they love.

The New England Patriots were the better team in the AFC Championship game. It was apparent from the start. They dominated the Indianapolis Colts in every way. And they won by a large margin. 45-7 to be exact.

They didn’t need to give themselves an unfair advantage. But from all angles, it appears they did. Someone did. And now, with the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl upon us, football fans aren’t talking about the Patriots’ decisive win, the dramatic overtime victory of the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers, or the biggest game of the year. They’re talking about deflated footballs. You can’t turn around without hearing a ball joke and “deflategate” has been the top news story all week.

The NFL kicked off the season embroiled in off-the-field issues surrounding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the fallout from which called into question the integrity of the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Now, it closes the season with an on-the-field issue, which takes direct aim at the integrity of the game itself.

What did the Patriots know? When did they know it? And who was responsible? We may never know.

My brilliant and witty friend, Shandon, coined Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “The Blue Jasmine of football.” If you didn’t see the movie Blue Jasmine, the script was loosely written around disgraced financier Bernie Madoff’s (now estranged) wife, Ruth, an “innocent bystander” who benefited greatly from her husband’s greed. Bill Belichick in the role of Bernie Madoff doesn’t seem like a stretch. Except, of course, for his wardrobe.

The problem is, this Patriots plot has more holes than an adult film. Belichick, a notorious control freak, admits to scheming to make practice balls uncatchable, but wants us to believe he’s never thought about a football on game day. And Brady, who has a process for picking and preparing balls, has never actually squeezed one. For the record, my sister Jennifer (who is a Tom Brady fan) says even she can tell the difference in a fully inflated ball when she’s throwing it around the backyard with my nephews.

This franchise is no stranger to cheating scandals. In 2007, Belichick was imposed a $500,000 fine (the maximum allowable) for his role in taping the defensive play calls of the Patriots’ opponents, earning the nickname “Belicheat.” Now, with their team headed back to the Super Bowl, New England fans find themselves in the position of defending the Patriots and their accolades once again.

If the game isn’t fair, then the game means nothing. And this game means too much to too many people for that. The attention created by deflated footballs is not silly. As Tony Kornheiser said on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, “It shows you what the NFL means to this country.”

A strong stance is needed from the man in charge of defending the NFL shield. And with the game on the line, Roger Goodell can leave no doubt as to which team he’s on.

Time for a big play, Commissioner.

I hope you have it in you.

XO

RIP to the Tuck Rule

The Infamous Tuck Rule Game (2002) (Photo: Getty Images)

The Infamous Tuck Rule Game (2002)
(Photo: Getty Images)

NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2. When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.[1]

It was an absurd rule from the start. Hard to identify and inconsistently called. And even when it was, it had half the fans crying “foul!”

The theory was…if a quarterback tries to abort a throw and loses the ball while bringing it back in, the resulting play was an incomplete pass instead of a fumble.

Still don’t get it? Don’t worry. The tuck rule is no longer. The NFL owners voted to do away with it during the owners meeting in Phoenix this week.

It may be gone, but the ghost of the tuck rule will haunt the Oakland Raiders long after the coffin is closed on it. The tuck rule turned the outcome of a Raiders playoff game against the New England Patriots in 2002 (now known as the Tuck Rule Game), when the tuck rule was called on a Tom Brady fumble. The Raiders had recovered the ball, but it was ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots got the ball back, kicked a field goal to tie the game, and beat the Raiders with another field goal in overtime.

The Patriots declined to vote on the proposal to kill the tuck rule, which seems appropriate…as they would effectively be nullifying the outcome of a playoff game that led them to the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Funny enough…the other team to abstain from voting was the Washington Redskins, whose General Manager, Bruce Allen, was with the Raiders during the infamous game. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team that voted against killing the rule.

So…good riddance to the tuck rule. The least understood rule in professional sports.

Now, if only someone would explain to me this crown of helmet rule.

Out with one rule…in with another.

XO

 

Brady post breakup: Mad, sad, and really, really tan

Tom Brady and Wes Welker 2012  (Photo: Stephen J Cohen/WireImage)

Tom Brady and Wes Welker 2012
(Photo: Stephen J Cohen)

Somewhere, on a deserted tropical island, with the sun on his face, the breeze in his hair, and a fruity drink in his hand, Tom Brady…is fuming. While his wife and kids frolic and play, he is moping around like he just lost his best friend. Because, well…he did.

After making his own contribution to the team by extending his contract (to free up salary cap space), the New England Patriots returned the favor by failing to re-sign the star quarterback’s go-to guy, wide receiver Wes Welker.

To add insult to injury…for a measly two million dollars, Welker was swayed to sign with the Denver Broncos, where he will become the go-to guy for Brady’s archrival, Peyton Manning, who apparently played a major role in wooing Welker. Peyton also happens to be the big brother of Brady’s real nemesis…Eli Manning.

Yes, life for Tom Brady isn’t all champagne and roses, at least not this week. But don’t worry. After pouting, stomping his Uggs, and refusing to cut his hair, Brady will be just fine.

Why? Because Tom Brady is a professional, a competitor, and a team player. And he has demonstrated  as much on and off the field, most recently with his financial concession. I know, that’s not much of a sacrifice when your wife is the highest paid supermodel on the planet. But, it’s not just about money. It’s also about ego and pride, which Brady is also willing to put aside for the good of the team.

Also, I’m sure Gisele has already instructed staff to remove all photos of Wes Welker from their home (the ones that weren’t removed after Super Bowl XLVI anyway), along with anything with an eight or a three on it.

So…don’t worry about Tommy. After an extended vacation, he will board his private jet, return to his private castle, and eventually start to play with his new toy, Patriot wide receiver Danny Amendola (Welker 2.0), signed from the Rams during free agency.

And soon, Tom Brady will realize that hooking up with someone younger, faster, and better looking really is the best cure for a broken heart.

XO

Disclosure: I have no idea where Tom Brady is. All I know is that he is “out of the country.” I assume he is on a tropical island because, well…why wouldn’t he be?

Anna Burns Welker makes debut as spokeswoman for Patriots Wives Club

Anna Burns Welker(Photo: USA Today)

Anna Burns Welker
(Photo: USA Today)

Looks like Mrs. Brady handed her position as spokeswoman for the Patriots Wives Club over to someone else…Mrs. Welker.

Gisele Bundchen, wife of New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, was overheard criticizing her husband’s teammates following last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.

While being heckled by fans, Bundchen was overheard saying, “My husband can not F***ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.” The exchange was caught on camera by theinsider.com.

This time, it was Anna Burns Welker, wife of Patriots Wide Receiver Wes Welker, who went on a rant following the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game on Sunday night. Mrs. Welker took to her Facebook page, where she posted the following statement (via thebiglead.com):

“Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids, 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!”

For the record, the Ravens linebacker does have six children by four women, but has never been married. Not sure if that makes a difference, but if you’re going to judge…at least start with the facts.

And by the way, Anna Burns Welker does not have a Wikipedia page. But she is listed on her husband’s…as Miss Hooters 2005. A true role model, indeed. Be careful, honey. It’s dangerous to judge wearing six-inch platform heels. Wouldn’t want you to fall down and hurt yourself stepping off that pedestal.

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick took some heat for refusing an on field interview following his team’s loss. He did the obligatory uncomfortable press conference, however…full of awkward silence and yes and no answers.

Here’s an idea…how about we spare the coach and let the Patriots wives handle the press from now on?

They always seem to have something to say.

XO

Bold Predictions for 2012 NFL Season: Cutler Cracks a Smile, Brady Attempts the Impossible, and Eli Loses Some Weight…

Here we are…the preseason is behind us.  The regular season is before us.  And I have a few bold predictions (ten to be exact) for the 2012 NFL season:

10.  Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler will be more likable as a dad.  I didn’t say he’d be a better quarterback, but I do think fatherhood will soften his edges and make him a little more personable, or at least a little more human.  Hey, that commercial he did for The NFL Store was almost funny.  See?  It’s already working.

9.  On the other hand, fatherhood WILL make Tony Romo a better quarterback for the Cowboys.  He put a lot of pressure on himself (some deservedly) the last few seasons, but now seems happy and settled.  That will translate to the field in confidence, that he has someone to come home to…and it’s not Jessica Simpson.

8.  We will discover that Rex Ryan is a better coach when he’s overweight.  Maybe it’s the diet.  It’s possible he’s a little light-headed these days.  I mean, claiming this is the best Jets team he’s ever coached?  That may be more bold than his pre-preseason Superbowl predictions.  He must be seeing something in practice that we’re not.  Namely…touchdowns.

7.  We will learn why no one wants to coach (or play) in Miami.  If you watched Hard Knocks, you’re already half way there.

6.  We will discover that there was indeed something magical about Peyton Manning’s hands under Jeff Saturday’s butt.  Both will have decent seasons, but neither will be able to replicate what they had together in Indianapolis.  Seeing as they’re both playing in outside stadiums now, that’s mostly warm hands and a warm butt.

5.  Tim Tebow will become the starter for the New York Jets.  I don’t know when, but it will happen.  And when it does, the skies will part, the angels will sing, and Skip Bayless will crown him MVP…all before he completes his first pass (just before halftime).

4.  With the Patriots light on receivers, Tom Brady, upon suffering two Superbowl defeats to Eli Manning, will attempt to do the very thing wife Gisele Bundchen claimed he could not…throw the ball and catch it himself.

3.  Eli Manning will finally prove that he is an elite quarterback after all, and is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the Manning family.  Wait, didn’t he do that last season?  Forget it then.  Eli will find new joy playing for the Giants, without carrying a 230-pound monkey on his back named Peyton.

2.  After two weeks of fumbled calls, Father Goodell will finally open his checkbook and sign the NFL officials to a new contract, just in time for week three.  The replacement refs will miss the call, report to work, and flag the league for too many men on the field.  They will try to reverse the call, but won’t remember what it was.

1.  And for my last bold prediction of the season…Terrell Owens and Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson will fall in love (no, not with each other) and ride off into sunset, never to be heard from again.  I know.  I pushed it too far with that one.  Damn, it was a nice thought though…wasn’t it?

Here’s to the 2012 NFL season.  The clock is down to hours…and they’re ticking away.

XO