28 Jan


Let me be up front about this whole thing:

I don’t care.

I really don’t. It’s stupid.

I love football. And I hate cheating.

But this? It’s fucking stupid. And I don’t care about it.

Ok, maybe a little. Let me explain,

First, a primer, for those blessed few to be living blind to the various shenanigans apparently perpetrated by a certain (American) football franchise.

Footballs are supposed to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI (Pounds per…) Oh fuck it. Just read the Wikipedia article.

Now why is this not just stupid, but fucking stupid?

Because it is. Because I say so. And you should too.

It’s stupid because while the Patriots have probably been doing this to some degree for years, the game in which they “got caught” they won by a score of 45-7. They would have won even if the Colts had been cheating.

It’s stupid because for some idiotic reason the NFL allows teams to provide their own balls for each game. It’s like giving a nail file to Gaylord Perry and then being shocked, SHOCKED! to find that he’s been doctoring balls.

It’s stupid because everyone knows the Patriots cheat. (Including many Patriots fans, who are totally cool with it.) There was Spygate. And…er, while I’m sure there are other incidents of the Patriots cheating, I can’t think of them offhand.

It’s stupid because it’s football. Football, while gloriously barbaric, is a stupid fucking game. Most sports are. They don’t really matter. That’s what everyone says. “Compared to the looming golem apocalypse, sports are rather silly, don’t you think?” (Note to self: write golem apocalypse script. Ron Perlman? Ron Perlman!!) Sports are our contemporary version of bread and circuses. Okay, football is the bread, reality TV the circuses. Sports are a means to give succor to the masses who are either 1) out of work, 2) depressed because of the weather, 3) married to the wrong person, 4) fat, ugly, lonely, or 5) depressingly drunk. Think about it, you’re an unemployed, overweight, bulbous-nosed, alcoholic married to a woman who constantly nags you to shovel the driveway. What do you want? What do you need?

Football, baby. And if you live in Green Bay, cheddar brats.

In fact, while football is my No. 2 in the pantheon of team sports (in order: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, curling, professional whining, soccer), it’s also arguably the dumbest one. It is horribly violent, with promotional images comparing gridiron warriors to something created by Skynet.


While the clocks in basketball and hockey actually stop when play ceases, the one in football runs and runs and runs. Out of sixty minutes of game time there are only about eleven minutes of actual action. The rest of the time we have to listen to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman think they sound intelligent.

It’s fucking stupid because there’s always been some kind of gamesmanship going on in sports. In baseball, home ground crews will keep grass long and the field wet if they have a groundball pitcher going. CenturyLink Field in Seattle (where the Seahawks play) was intentionally built to amplify sound. (This helps distract opposing offenses.) Twelfth Man my ass, this is fucking science!

Have you ever seen an inside fastball hit the knob of a bat, but the player pretends it hit him and he walks down to first? How about Craig Biggio or Chuck Knoblauch leaning into a pitch? Or flopping, which is the sports equivalent of pretending to get an emergency phone call while out on a bad date.

There are countless examples of athletes who push the envelope from fair play to gamesmanship to cheating. And those are horrible, horrible people who have no right donning a professional sports uniform.

Unless they’re on my team, then they rock.

This is not just stupid, it’s transcendentally, historically stupid. And it makes people seem even stupider than they already are. The other day, I was getting a bagel and a schmear, and I was standing in line, and these two Brooklyn guys were talking about the stupidest thing ever:

“So this Brady fuck, he’s a real fuck, ya know.”

“Pretty boy motherfucker. Been cheatin’ his whole fuckin’ career. Tuck rule my fuckin’ ass.”

“Replay the game.”

“Forfeit the game.”

“Fine him. Five mil, minimum.”

“Ban him for life.”

“Fucking Boston.”


I did a double take, not at “fucking Boston” or “douchebags,” both of which I mostly agree with. But “ban him for life.” Really? I mean compared to everything else in not just the NFL, not just sports in general, but compared to everything else going on in the world, this is a fucking nonissue. This lies somewhere between the photoshopping of Kim Kardashian’s ass and the pope saying that all dogs go to heaven. Yet somehow, no matter how stupidly insignificant this whole thing is, everyone seems to have an opinion. From Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson to Mother Jones

It’s stupid because within the actual sport of football there are literally five billion things that are worse. Must I name them? I must. We can either start or end with Ray Rice and the NFL’s stupid mishandling of that situation. Then there’s the plague of concussions suffered by current and former players, concussions which have caused degenerative diseases amongst athletes, and which led to at least one high profile suicide. There was Bountygate, where coaches gave monetary incentives to injure opposing players. Then there are the countless moneygrubbing aspects of the NFL. Only 8% of money raised during the NFL’s October Breast Cancer Awareness drives actually goes towards cancer research. NFL stadiums are mostly publicly financed. And while the National Football League is as far away from being a “non-profit” as possible it is considered a trade association and therefore tax exempt. Also, cheerleaders are paid next to nothing, and some are instructed on how to clean their ladyparts.

And that is why this whole matter of who shrunk Tom Brady’s balls is fucking stupid.

And now why it’s not.

First, balls. Or Ballz, depending on how fucking stupid you think this is. It’s such an innocuous word, except when it’s not. Not when everyone is trying not to laugh when they say it. Like Bill Belichick who is a master of answering reporters’ questions with zen koans. Listening to grown men trying not to say balls already makes 2015 a far better year than 2014.

Second, we finally have a successor to the suffix “–gate.” While most news outlets have described this pseudoscandal as “Deflategate,” I prefer the term “Ballghazi.” Rule of thumb: “-gate” shall be used for real scandals, “-ghazi” for overly hyped ones.

And finally, it solidifies the Patriots place in the Legion of Sports Evil. Now they’re up there with Manchester United and the Yankees. Because no matter how silly sports are, they need villains.

Sports villains are actually the best ones: they aren’t real. Alex Rodriguez is a self-absorbed asshole who cheated, lied, and pretended he was sorry when he got caught. But he’s not bin Laden. Bill Belichick will do anything to win. But at least he didn’t actually kill anybody, unlike one of his players. The Yankees are the Evil Empire not because they cheat (they don’t) but because they win. Similarly, with or without Ballghazi and Spygate and whatever else the Patriots may have cooked up, people hate them because they win. Because the Patriots are really fucking good. I hate the Patriots because they’re that good. And I hate Patriots fans (and Boston fans in general) because they’re assholes about it.

We hate winners because we are not them. I never hated the Seattle Seahawks, but then they won, and now I find them (well, mostly their fans) insufferable. The Dallas Cowboys are assholes not only because they’ve won stuff, but also for calling themselves “America’s Team.” You can’t give yourself that name. It’s like the guy in high school who claimed to be cool. You are so not cool. As a Cubs and Bears fan I despise the St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. Not only are they our rivals but they’ve won fifteen combined World Series/Super Bowls to our three.

So haters be hatin’, true, but understand why you’re hatin’. You hate because you wish you were them. You want to be hated. It’s fun.

And Patriots fans who find this whole thing as mind-numbingly stupid as I do, I only have one thing to say to you:

You know in your heart of hearts that they did it. And you’re okay with it.

(Go Bears!)

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