Will it ever end? Will the tales of esopinage and trickery, the paranoia and plausible denialbility ever cease? Or is this where we are as an American sports society: Far more interested in the reality television aspects, the court room drama, the Law and Order conspiracy theories, than the games themselves.
Another Patriots game. Another round of finger-pointing, cat-calling, deflection, and defending. Today it’s radio headsets. Tomorrow it’ll be a work-relase Patriots convict clearing a spot on a snowy field for the game-winning kick.
Wait, that happened already?
Well, crap. I’m on empty then.
We’ve seen this playbook before. Some normal dynamic of a football game is manipulated. Opponent blames Pats’ shady tactics. Pats scoff, and roll their eyes. New Englanders vehemently “defend the wall.” Everyone else presumes Patriots guilt.
Whether the Patriots are even really doing anything has taken a back seat to the theater of the media involved. Deflating the footballs is boring compared to the jihad launched by Pats fans against Chris Mortensen and Peter King. Taking footballs into a bathroom is mundane compared to the fact-checking, old-tweet-digging, on-air verbal sniping that’s taking place between journos. Is ESPN scrubbing its own criticisms of Patriots critcisms?
This is Press Box Inception.
Indy’s Bob Kravitz and the New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch have become Marvel villains in New England. The Steelers website went hard after the Patriots history of shadowy behavior this morning, so Bill Belichick called out stories with anti-Pats “agendas and misinformation.” According to Darth Hoodie, it’s “a sad commentary, and it’s gone to a pretty low level.” And let’s face it, Bill knows sad. That’s his default face. This, of course, throws another steak to the lions (his supporters), and turns the tables upside down again. Which means the table is rightside up?
Are the Patriots the criminal or the victim? Maybe both? And what are the media doing? Telling the story, picking sides, or just acting in a high school production of “Twelve Angry Jurors”?
It’s almost like the Truman Show. Those asked to cover the ongoing Patriots scandals (are they scandals?), now have a TV show about them. They’re playing roles in a script, with an audience devouring every minute. We used to cheer or boo the players. Now we cheer and boo the people covering the players.
It’s only 1 A.F. (one day after football). So maybe by Sunday’s maelstrom of a thousand games the newest Patriots pulp will recede into the fog. Maybe it’s just an empty-calorie donut before lunch.
But I’m not sure if I can handle a football season which is consumed by how the games and teams are covered, instead of the games and teams. Perhaps the largesse of the NFL has created an army of league media that are overly important and influential. We don’t assemble mobs to go tar and feather Ken Rosenthal or Buster Olney. We don’t have layers upon layers of public squabble between Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein. But Deflategate created the Real Housewives of Bristol.
It’s the theater of the absurd. Again. And it’s gotta end now that the games are finally here. Or does it?
D.A. hosts 6-10pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.