So, having straightened everybody out on the political front for a while, it is time for one of the two most important times of the year, overlapping the other, which is Thanksgiving through Christmas. There’s a lot to talk about. First, of course, what we have all been talking about for months –
Brady and deflated balls
As is well known everywhere there is hearing, I am a Patriot and Brady fan. You’ll note though, I do not live in New England. I could care about where a team is located. Never did. And I’ll never understand why anyone else roots for the home team. But, I get it. I’m the weirdo.
I actually like teams the same way I like my friends, whether they live near or far – because I actually like them. How crazy is that? Brady and Belichick, Belichick and Brady. I don't know if he is the greatest QB ever or Belichick the greatest coach, but I do think they are the greatest coach/QB combo ever. Revolutionary thought, huh?
Not surprisingly, where people are revered, there are others that revile them. Recently, John Cena, the professional wrestler, had some advice for Brady about dealing with the hate. He should know. His tv character is the most wonderful guy you can imagine. Yet, he is loathed by many fans, and he has fun with it. In his case, it is make believe in a sense. For Brady, of course, it is real.
Tom Terrific is terrific to me. He’s certainly one of the two greatest QBs over the course of the last 15 years. I don’t know if you can say that he is better than Manning or vice versa. Certainly it’s arguable, Peyton based on records and Brady on his somewhat lessor records and many more championships. And Rodgers has been better than both for several years. Could be Peyton is washed up as a lot of people are predicting. But, I have said for the last few years that I have been obsessed with the NFL, for one game, one quarter, one play, I would want Brady over any QB, even before Rodgers.
I have not always been a Patriot fan and might not be this or next year, though I have a lot of sympathy for them right now. As for Tom, he has my admiration and sympathy right now. Many people would gag or laugh at that right now, but they'd have to show me why. Though he has never been accused by the NFL of cheating, many people call him a cheater. All the league accused him of was being “generally aware” of the ball deflation in the Colt game. The judge made it clear he had no idea what “generally aware” meant in context of the Wells’ report and he shouldn’t. It was what is sometimes called weasel words, meant to obscure that there was no evidence to support it.
Feel free to argue with me. First, though, read the Wells' report, read Goodell’s decision and letters and read the court’s decision. Until then, you are not making a reasoned argument, no different than if you think a politician is guilty of something depending on what party you are in.
I notice this. Most people I have discussed it with say they believe that Brady had something to do without the slightest evidence. They don't offer any and they don't care. It's enough they think so because that's the way the world is. Possibly some think so because they are Jet fans. Possibly some because he's handsome, his wife is the world's most successful super model, he's fabulously wealthy and incredibly successful on the field. Unlike Brady critics, I wouldn't say that is the truth for any particular person, just because I think that is common behavior. But I think it is true of a lot of people. My observation of my friends who are Jet fans, for examples tells me that they not only think he cheated, but some are livid and curse about it. Some have even wished him physical harm over it, despite the fact that the court pointed out that had Goodell followed the rules and he was guilty of something (there has never been a punishment in NFL history before for a player's awareness of someone else's misdeed), there would have been about a $5500 fine. And their anger is far greater than it was for New Orleans' bounty scandal which had to be 100 times worse, even if the allegations against Brady were true. Fans are often as partisan as political ideologues and reason means little to them, even if they are rational in most other aspects of their lives. Even for many non-Jet fans, their analysis seems to be identical with their conclusion. He did “something” because they know it. And they know it, because he did it. This is what we call a tautology. Not one of them would accept being accused of anything on the same grounds. I'll cover the circumstantial evidence below, and anyone can try and persuade me otherwise, but when you accuse, their is a burden of proof and you have to have some evidence.
One circumstantial fact that is often cited is that he destroyed his cell phone. This is ridiculous in my view. The NFL doesn’t deny it had all the text records from McNally and Jastremski. Anyone, but particularly a celebrity whose cell phone is a prime target, should be extremely careful about it when he gets a new one. Destroying it is a great idea and his friends and family probably are very happy he does. I would not want anyone to see the things that people have texted or for that matter emailed me. He’s not a public figure with a duty to keep it. And though Ted Wells, who wrote the report (along with the NFL – it was not an independent report), faults him for it, he also said –
Brady’s agent has detailed the efforts they did make to cooperate, short of handing over the phone they were told they did not to hand over, and the NFL has not really denied his statements. I don't see how that is grounds to find Brady’s guilt circumstantially, or to loathe him.. The other circumstantial evidence cited is the Patriot’s (really Belichick’s) spy scandal in 2007. I think Belichick is a phenomenal coach. I like him a lot. But, I have no problem finding what he did – and admitted doing then – completely wrong. Am I willing to taint his whole career thereafter? No. Not without some evidence he's done something else wrong. I don't like Miami's Suh very much based on what I've seen. But, I'm not willing to believe anything about him without evidence either.
And, though I admire Brady’s public demeanor and control of his emotions, his incredible competitive nature and last minute composure and execution, I would be perfectly willing to believe he was guilty of something had I been shown any evidence. In fact, before I read all the facts, I was suspicious of it too. And, were there actual evidence, I would be very disappointed in him the way I have been about other athletes I admired when I found out they cheated. Some I liked a lot. OJ and Lance Armstrong are two good examples. The sprinter Ben Johnson is another. I’m not married to Brady or the Patriots or Belichick and they are human.
So, I don’t know what Brady knew or generally knew. I’m not 100% sure that there was bad actions by the Patriots here. I just know there was no evidence that allows me to think he did something wrong.
Done with the Pats. I hope they win the championship again and give those who hate them more reason to hate them.
Here are some predictions and thoughts for the season.
First, I am going way out on a limb and predicting a Buffalo Bills versus Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl. Seattle and the Patriots are my backup picks though before Jordy Nelson’s injuries, I would have picked the Pack. My picks are based on personnel losses to both Seattle and NE and Buffalo’s and the Eagles’ pickups of personnel off season. However both depend on untested QBs and that means almost everything. If these young men, Bradford and/or Taylor do not perform, then my picks will be pretty poor. Statistical analysis of predictions show that even the best performances over a season are only fractionally better than simply picking teams to do as they did the year before. I thought I’d avoid that, however accurate it might be, and I don’t mind being wrong. I’ve picked far more SB’s wrong than right. Good thing my ego doesn’t rest upon it.
The games that most interest me this week are:
The Colts v. Buffalo. I will find out very quickly if my expectations for Buffalo are to be thwarted and whether my belief that the Colts (who some win the NFC) and Luck are overrated is wrong-headed. A lot of people are picking them to win it all, and they have some arguments on their side.
As well looking forward to the Eagles v. the Falcons, also to see if the Eagles are the real deal or not.
KC v. Houston. I just like Houston’s defense, which may be even better this year. Sorry to see Fitzpatrick go. I think another mediocre season for them though with a lot of game highlights by the defense. I think when healthy, Jamaal Charles is one of the top five RBs in the game.
As far as individual players,
I’ve already seen Brady get his first game revenge. 4 TDs in a game are not all that unusual anymore, but he was highly accurate, albeit against a team with obvious defensive problems. It seems to me watching him however, that his long ball game is not in the stratosphere of NFL QBs anymore. Maybe most QBs playing have stronger arms than he does, but like Peyton Manning, he’s not getting any younger and he compensates with his mind and quick decisions.
I am hoping Adrian Peterson, another player who the NFL unfairly attacked (Goodell's record as a disciplinarian is pitiful) has a sensational game and year.
I’d like to see J. Watt, who I thought one of the two or three best players in football last year, have a great game.
Also, GB’s Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and, if he plays, Randall Cobb, the Giant’s Odell Beckham, Jr. (aka OBJ), Des Bryant and Rams DE, Robert Quinn. Obviously there are others, but that came to mind quick.
And though I’m not a big fan, and his legacy is secure with two SB wins, I am curious to see how Eli Manning does this year, especially when Cruz returns. They do not have a bad cast of characters and if their line plays well, he has a chance to look much better than he has the last two years.
I’m also curious about Andrew Luck. He was picked first over RGIII and I’m sure the Colts aren’t sorry. He is a top QB, but I really don’t think he is as great as many people think. Personally, I like him, so hard not to root for him, but his path also usually goes through Tom Brady and that will be a problem. I cringe when Luck is said to be the league’s leading passer. He had the touchdowns, but also too many interceptions and was allowed to throw an awful lot, I think next most after Brees, who I also think slightly overrated. He doesn’t have the best QB rating, the best TD to interception ratio and doesn’t always strike me as making the best decisions in big games. On the other hand, if the rookie, Dorsett, can catch as advertised, it adds another weapon for him that could make them really tough. They may now have the best receiving corp in the league, though you could make other arguments.
Hard for me to root for Seattle. I just normally don’t like teams where many players see themselves as bad asses, even when I admire them. I was happy as can be that NE beat them last year, but after the game I felt that Seattle would win the next two if they played three. To the contrary, I love Wilson’s game and am excited that Graham has joined the team.
Most of all, though not particularly a Jet fan, I’d like to see Ryan Fitzpatrick perform well. I’ve thought, particularly last year, that he is a very decent QB who has never played for a really good team. He still isn’t this year, but he has a number of good receivers to work with now and a decent backfield. I haven’t met a Jet fan yet who did not think he should have started over Smith, anyway, and since Smith made it easy, he’s got to perform now.
As for rookies, I have low expectations for Winston and Mariota. I am curious to see if Amari Cooper becomes a quick star in Oakland at WR. Same for DeVante Parker in Miami, though I believe he was not that impressive in pre-season. I was also curious about WR Kevin White in Chicago, but he may be out for the season. I’m really looking forward to see what Todd Gurley can do when he is sufficiently recovered to play for the Rams. I loved his college highlight reel. I know sometimes it doesn’t transfer to the pros, but we will see. Last, Byron Jones shocked everyone with his athleticism at the Combine this year. I understand he is not setting the world on fire in Dallas yet, but, I’m waiting to see.
That’s all, folks.