(anonymous guest post)
Dear New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady,
I believe enough facts are out for me to write this open letter, even though the NFL has not announced the severity of your punishment yet.
Let me begin by first telling you how much I love you. I cannot say I am the biggest fan – I am not a season ticket holder, I only go to 50% of the AFC Championship games, and I would not be able to name the entire roster by name and number. I grew up in Alabama, where football is religion. Because of the 1968 Boston Patriots vs Jets game played in Birmingham, AL, my award winning, nationally recognized high school named its mascot after you. If I remember correctly, I chose Alabama (over Auburn) because I liked the color red, and I chose the Patriots, well, because I already had a drawer full of hoodies and t-shirts with your name and logo on it from school. As it turned out, the Greatest Show on Turf happened in 2001, and soon after, the bandwagon took me to Boston where I went to college from 2003-2007 and greatly enjoyed the Dynasty years. Post college, my career took me to New York, and I watched in absolute heart break in 2007, and again in 2012. A decade later since the Eagles Super Bowl, you are eleven days away from fulfilling my only remaining wish as a Patriots fan: a fourth ring to cement the legacy. No other professional sports team comes close to you in my sports love (Alabama does, but there’s something different about watching kids chasing a trophy for free as opposed to having a $120.6mm contract). Which brings me to today, and I am deflated.
In 2007, I was much younger and a lot more immature. When Spygate came out, I am pretty sure I posted arrogant comments on social media in blind support of what you did. I blamed the Tyree catch on Spygate and the football God’s way of teaching you about karma and hubris. Today, however, Deflategate has had a totally different opposite impression on me – one filled with disappointment and humility. I proudly wore my Patriots shirt at the gym last Sunday while watching the Packers break the Seahawks’ arms and then the Seahawks break the Packers’ back. The Flying Elvis stood for the Patriot Way: preparation, power, confidence, championships. Sadly, I will not be wearing any Patriots jerseys come Super Bowl Sunday. What does that logo stand for now but cheating and humiliation? I have a coworker who named his newborn son Brady last year. Immediately after Sunday night’s game, I thought in twelve days, he can finally show his son the legend he was named after. What about now? When his son looks up Tom Brady on Wikipedia, there will be a “Section 3.3 Controversies”. The Patriots franchise might save Tom Brady from Deflategate in the end and throw someone else under the bus, but I assure you, Tom Brady, after 14 years in the league who barks at Wes Welker for running a 9 yard curl instead of a 11 yard curl, certainly could tell a 10.5 psi ball from a 12.5 psi ball. I changed my cover background on Facebook after the game to the picture of Tom being pulled for Jimmy, walking off the field to a roaring, jubilant crowd, shaking hands with the master, who was hiding under the rain in his hoodie. The picture at the time stood for so much of what I love about the Patriots: coach/quarterback, student/pupil, master/apprentice, partners, victors, seasoned veterans. All of this still stands true, but I can no longer look at the picture without thinking that both of them cheated in getting the win. What message are you sending to Patriots nation? Today, the Patriot Way becomes win no matter what it takes – even if it involves cheating. Robert Kraft told Gillette Stadium, “You have done your job, now we must go do ours.” Does that job involve cheating? If Tom Brady had not thrown the most costly interception in his career, would the Super Bowl balls be deflated as well?
February 1st, 2015. Superbowl XLIX. Belichick and Brady’s fourth ring. My hope and prayer for your Super Bowl win has not waned one bit after Deflategate. I will still cry my eyes out in joy at 1030pm and will still take a mental day at work to lie in bed until 1030am the next morning basking in your glory and achievement. However, rest assured, I will no longer be naming my future dog Pat, Belichick, or Brady.
Paul Pierce fan (The Truth)