This is a response to Greg Easterbrook’s column from Page 2 entitled: "Colts-Patriots tilt shaping as battle of Good vs. Evil." You can read it uninterrupted and in full (I only copied and pasted the parts about the Patriots) here:
In this post, Greg’s words are italicized. Also, you’ll notice a dramatic drop off in writing quality when it’s my “turn” to write. This “dialogue” has been sent to Mr. Easterbrook via e-mail.
This is also a very long piece, so I’ll summarize a bit so you can decide whether or not to read it. Easterbrook says that the Colts-Pats game on Sunday is a battle between good and evil. I say that the Patriots aren’t that evil, and that it’s just a football game.
"Patriots at Colts on Nov. 4 is shaping up to be one of the most attractive and exciting NFL regular-season games ever staged. The pairing is fabulous; the teams are the league's best; and there is a chance both will take the field undefeated. Plus, Patriots at Colts has a powerful, compelling narrative. Namely -- Good vs. Evil.
The fact that I don't even need to tell you which team represents Good and which stands for Evil says a lot about how low New England has sunk. You knew instantly which was which, didn't you?"
Well, Greg, I figured out who was going to be who because nobody has ever portrayed Peyton Manning as anything other than a pure, clean, God-fearing, church-going, bring home to mother, cornfed, country boy. Meanwhile, people like you accuse the Patriots of all sorts of “evil” things, such as videotaping other teams, and (gasp) SCORING AS MANY POINTS AS THEY CAN!!!
Okay, I just fainted from that last one, but I’m back.
"Argument for the Indianapolis Colts as paladins…"
Oh, boy, here we go.
Here are Dictionary.com’s definitions of paladin:
1. any one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on Charlemagne.
2. any knightly or heroic champion.
3. any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.
When you see that word, you just know ridiculousness lies ahead.
"…who carry the banner of that which is beneficent: Sportsmanship, honesty, modesty, devotion to community, embrace of traditional small-town life, belief in higher power, even love of laughter. "
Just a small little clarification against these assessments:
Most of the Patriots’ players are from small towns, just like the Colts‘ players. They went to big football schools, got drafted, and the rest is history. Also, Foxborough is a relatively small town. And patrolling the parking lots at Gillette Stadium, one will see countless license plates from places like Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire; the birthplaces of the American small town.
Most New England Patriots believe in some sort of higher power (saying that belief in a higher power is necessarily a “good” thing is prejudice, but I’ll let you slide, Greg).
Tom Brady has laughed, as has Bill Belichick, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Randy Moss, and everyone else on the team. And no, not all of these laughs were villainous in nature, and very few were wicked cackles.
"The Colts are the defending champions, so they obviously play well on the field. Yet after winning the Super Bowl, they have remained humble and appealing. Through prior years of postseason frustration, they never complained or pointed the finger outside their team."
The Colts never complained? Are you kidding me, Greg? How long have you been a sports fan? Do you know who Bill Polian is? He’s the President and GM of the Colts. He’s also on the NFL’s competition committee. He was also a VERY vocal complainer after the Patriots beat the Colts in the 2003 and 2004 AFC playoffs. He PUBLICLY whined about receivers being touched more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. He moaned and complained so loudly and so effectively that the NFL implemented new rules for contact made beyond 5 yards. These are widely known as the Patriot rules.
Bill Polian was and is at the top of the Colts organization, and he is nothing but a whiny bitch. And I’m not swearing here, Greg, Bill Polian is in fact a female dog.
"Their players are active in community affairs and don't carp about being assigned to a nonglamorous Farm Belt city with an antiquated stadium. Their coach, Tony Dungy, smiles in public and answers honestly whatever he is asked: He never yells at players or grimaces at bad plays and, when defeated, doesn't act as though it's the end of the world. Although religious, Dungy said on the night he won the Super Bowl that God doesn't care about football games, which shows perspective. The team's star, Peyton Manning, stands for love of family, constantly appearing in public with his brothers, father and mother. Manning is happily married and a major donor to a children's hospital. Manning spends a lot of time at children's camps and events, and he constantly makes fun of himself. Ladies and gentlemen, representing Good, the Indianapolis Colts."
Does Coach Dungy take all the players out to pizza after games?
As much as I hate them, the Colts are indeed a classy organization, and are, without a doubt, one of the elite organizations in the NFL, and in all of American sports. However, the Patriots aren’t the evil hate-mongers that you are about to make them out to be, Greg.
Did you know that…
This spring, Tom Brady went to Uganda and Ghana in support of DATA (Debt, AIDs, Trade, Africa) and ONE.org.
Bill Belichick donates his time to Lazarus House, a shelter for the poor and needy. He serves food there (with his family), and donates hundreds of autographed items for their charity golf tournaments and auctions.
Tedy Bruschi spends a great deal of time being the MC at charity events for hospitals. He also made and sold t-shirts to help victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The Patriots organization is involved in many different charitable pursuits, and has a policy of helping local charities through player appearances, cheerleader appearances, and many other means. Here is the Patriots’ site for community/charity information.
Greg, I suggest you go to this site and do some hardcore investigative journalism. Then get back to me about how evil the Patriots are even through charitable pursuits.. Maybe the blood drive is really run by vampires?
"Argument for the New England Patriots as scoundrels in the service of that which is baleful: Dishonesty, cheating, arrogance, hubris, endless complaining even in success. The Patriots have three Super Bowl rings, but that jewelry is tarnished by their cheating scandal."
Just because you keep insisting the rings are tarnished, doesn’t mean that they are. In fact, they’re quite exquisite.
"They run up the score to humiliate opponents -- more on that below -- thus mocking sportsmanship. "
So now you’re in Belichick’s head? You know why he does what he does? You beat 31 other NFL head coaches to it, Greg.
"Their coach snaps and snarls in public, seeming to feel contempt for the American public that has brought him wealth and celebrity. Victory seems to give Bill Belichick no joy, and defeat throws him into fury."
Is Belichick the first head coach to be standoffish? No. I’ll admit, Belichick is a mean man when it comes to the media. But his job isn’t to placate you and your colleagues, Greg. It’s to win football games. Belichick isn’t the first mean head coach, but he is one of the first mean coaches who doesn’t give the media funny sound bytes like Bill Parcells or Bobby Knight. And you guys loathe him for that, don’t you, Greg?
"Belichick and the rest of the top of the Patriots' organization continue to refuse to answer questions about what was in the cheating tapes -- and generally, you refuse to answer questions if you have something to hide."
Why the hell would the Patriots answer questions about the tapes? There is no value in telling everyone what was on the tapes. And if you got caught cheating, wouldn’t you do your best to move on and not talk about it? If you don’t answer all of my questions, Greg, does that mean YOU have something to hide?
"The team has three Super Bowl triumphs, yet its players regularly whine about not being revered enough."
When was this? They might complain about not being respected, or being underdogs (See: Super Bowl XXXVI), but considering the fact that you’re calling them “evil” maybe they have a right to complain about the way the media portrays them.
"The team's star, Tom Brady, is a smirking celebrity-chaser who dates actresses and supermodels but whose public charity appearances are infrequent."
If I could go out with Bridget Moynahan and/or Gisele Bundchen, I would. I don’t see this as being “evil” I see it as being a red-blooded American male.
And how frequent are your public charity appearances, Greg? And just because they’re not public, doesn’t mean that they don’t happen.
"That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, 'I'm hiding something.'"
Maybe Brady is hiding WMDs. You know, Greg, I’ve seen Peyton Manning smirk. I’ve seen Dallas Clark smirk. I’ve seen Dwight Freeney smirk. If I had Randy Moss for a receiver, and Gisele Bundchen for a girlfriend, you’d better believe I’d be smirking.
"The Patriots seem especially creepy at this point because we still don't know whether they have told the full truth about the cheating scandal -- or even whether they really have stopped cheating. They say they have, but their word is not exactly gold at this juncture. Ladies and gentlemen, representing Evil, the New England Patriots."
I work for the Patriots. I’m an usher at Gillette Stadium, but I’m really there for my telepathic and telekinetic abilities. You see, I read the minds of the opposing coaches and telepathically send those messages to Coach Belichick. I use my telekinesis to move the ball in the air so Tom Brady’s touchdown passes find their mark. We also poisoned the Redskins’ Gatorade with valium, we kidnapped the families of the entire Buffalo Bills offensive line and threatened to kill them if they didn’t let us win, and we didn’t play the Dolphins in Miami, we played Florida International University dressed up as the Dolphins. We’re evil.
End of sarcasm.
"In the Good vs. Evil narrative of the Colts and Pats, running up the score is a telling factor: It reveals a team's sportsmanship or lack of same, and whether a team shows sportsmanship in public might offer insights into its character in private. New England is scoring so many points the Patriots offense looks like cherries and oranges spinning on a slot machine. The Flying Elvii stand plus-159 in net points, by far the best scoring margin in the NFL. This is supposed to be impressive. But I think it's creepy, and New England's creepy on-field behavior is only underscoring the seediness of the Beli-Cheat scandal."
I’ve heard many words to describe the Patriots’ high scoring games: Classless, unsportsmanlike, derogatory, disrespectful, spiteful, arrogant, mean. But to call it creepy? Greg, are you honestly creeped out because a team scores 41.4 points per game? That creeps you out? I’ll be honest, spiders creep me out, but high powered NFL offenses don’t. I guess your fear makes more sense, though. Especially if those players are “evil.”
"On Sunday, the Patriots led the winless Dolphins 42-7 late in the third quarter, yet Tom Brady was still behind center."
Do you want to know why he was still in there? Because the Patriots play Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, and other good teams that will challenge them for 4 quarters. If Brady and the starters become accustomed to playing only 2 or 3 easy quarters of football, how the hell will they be able to handle 4 difficult quarters against a team like the Colts?
And what the hell does it matter if the Dolphins are winless? Shouldn’t the Patriots play against the winless Dolphins with the same intensity as the undefeated Colts?
"And he wasn't just handing off the ball to grind the clock, either. Rather, he was back in the shotgun, still throwing to run up the score. Here is a summary of the Patriots' possession with a 42-7 lead late in the third and Brady, Randy Moss and the rest of their offensive starters on the field: Pass, run, pass, run, pass, pass."
In the third quarter of a blowout game, the game is not over. A team could be up 70-0, and the game is not over. How long does it take for an opponent to score 10 touchdowns? Ten plays.
You run out the clock by getting first downs, not necessarily by running. If you throw high percentage passes, keep the ball in bounds, and move the ball downfield, you run out the clock just as efficiently as a running attack. The field is only 100 yards long. Eventually, you’re going to run into the end zone. Should you just stop there and kneel? Kick a meaningless field goal?
"When backup quarterback Matt Cassel entered the game in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots leading 42-14 -- a margin larger than the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history (see below) -- did he hand off the ball to grind the clock? Here were Patriots' coaches first three calls: Run, pass, pass. Cassel's second pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and Brady re-entered the game. Did he grind down the clock? Pass, pass, run, run, pass. The final score was 49-28."
I’m confused. If the Patriots are trying to embarrass other teams by scoring as many points as possible, why the hell would they replace their star quarterback with a guy who didn’t even start in college? That doesn’t seem logical, Greg.
And in the Miami game, you’re forgetting that Laurence Maroney was coming off injury, and Sammy Morris was injured in the Dallas game. That means that Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk, and Kyle Eckel were New England’s RBs. These guys probably aren’t going to get first downs on their own. And you run out the clock with first downs, not 3 and outs. And if you want to really shorten the game, you’ll score, because that means it would take even more time for your opponent to come back on you.
"The week before, New England led Dallas 42-27 and had second-and-goal on the Cowboys' 6-yard line with 1:43 remaining and Dallas out of timeouts. Three kneel-downs would have ended the game."
That isn’t true, three kneel downs would have left 0:23 on the clock. And it was 41-27 (three score game) not 42-27. It’s next to impossible for a team to score three touchdowns and three 2 point conversions in 23 seconds, but it’s still only next to impossible. The Patriots ran the ball three times in this situation, including a 4th down run by Kyle Eckel. The run resulted in a touchdown. After the extra point (if they were running up the score, wouldn’t the Patriots have gone for 2?) it was 48-27 and the game was over.
"The Patriots then kicked off, and Dallas got the ball with 13 seconds remaining. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips showed the dignity Belichick lacked and ordered a kneel-down. Beyond defeating division-leading Dallas, New England has beaten six teams with a combined record of 11-27. In New England's six games against nonwinning teams, Belichick kept the starters in long after the outcome was decided, trying to run up the score. This doesn't just demonstrate Belichick has no class (although it certainly demonstrates that). It's worse -- this suggests something vindictive."
Greg, your column suggests that you’re the vindictive one.
"Yes, you can find games the Colts have won by a big margin in recent years, and yes, Manning was on the field through the fourth quarter at Jacksonville last night."
In 2004 the Colts won games 31-17, 35-14, 49-14, 41-10, 41-9, 51-24, and 49-24 in the playoffs. Were you or anyone else accusing them of being classless by running up the score back then?
"But in that quarter, the Colts mainly ran to grind the clock: If they had wanted to win by more, they likely could have. As for New England's running up the score, supposedly the Patriots are angry about the Beli-Cheat scandal and are scoring points like crazy to express their anger against the world. Wait a moment: What right do the Patriots have to be angry? They, after all, are the ones who admitted to systematic cheating. Other people didn't impose that situation on them -- they cheated of their own free accord, imposing the tainting of their accomplishments on themselves. The Patriots were not wronged; they wronged others. Yet they're mad about being caught, and they seem to want to take out their bad feelings about themselves by embarrassing second-echelon teams. That bespeaks lack of character. That's Dark Side. That's Evil."
Here you go again, Greg, claiming to understand why Bill Belichick does what he does. Once again, you’ve outsmarted a 3 time Super Bowl Champion head coach. Maybe Belichick scores so many points in order to keep his team in a 4 quarter mindset instead of a 3 quarter one. Maybe he feels the need to keep throwing because he has three guys at WR that are used to being primary targets. Furthermore, one of those guys (Moss) has a reputation of giving up when he isn’t involved in the offense. But you never thought about those reasons, did you, Greg? Why not? Because they don’t fit into your agenda. You’re trying to find reasons to disregard and dismiss the Patriots and their head coach. Anything the Patriots do, you spin into a negative.
"Suppose New England's version of events is true -- that Belichick is a fine person who made an honest mistake about rules that seemed clearly written to everyone else but somehow were confusing to him and that he regrets his honest mistake. If this were so, wouldn't Belichick be attempting to convince the world he is a good guy by showing sportsmanship at every turn?"
Have you ever seen the way Bill Belichick dresses? Does he dress like a man who cares about what other people think of him? Have you ever heard him talk? Does he talk like a man who cares what others think of him?
Are you really asking that Belichick, in order to demonstrate to the country that he’s a good guy, NOT score as many points as he has? Maybe if he throws the December game against Miami, that would make him appear even more benevolent, and lovable.
"Instead, he is raising his middle finger to the rest of the NFL, to the sporting media, even to the NFL fans who made his wealth and celebrity possible. If he were a misunderstood man who regrets an honest mistake, wouldn't he be candid and open in public because making his life an open book would convince us he's sorry for what he did? Instead, in public, Belichick continues to glare, stonewall and act offended that mere mortals dare to address him. There is not the slightest hint that Belichick is sorry for what he did -- only sorry he got caught. Innocent people falsely accused crave the recovery of their reputation, working hard to convince the world they are good. Creepy people who think they can get away with something act belligerent and show poor sportsmanship, which is what Belichick is doing right now."
Bill Belichick is not sorry for what he did. His job isn’t to be sorry, or to be nice to the media, or to be a friendly guy. He gets that wealth and that celebrity for winning football games. I think it’s fair to say that he has fulfilled that job requirement.
"Since Belichick took over the Patriots and began the franchise's remarkable run, he and his team have been praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised; criticized when it was discovered New England had engaged in what commissioner Roger Goodell himself called "a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition"; then -- after about a week of criticism -- praised, praised, praised. This is not a sequence of experiences that would leave an honorable person angry at the world. Yet Belichick acts that way, and he appears to be encouraging anger in his players, which is itself unsportsmanlike."
So now Belichick is unsportsmanlike for encouraging football players to be angry? What mood fits the game of football better than anger? Tenderness? Happiness? Jubilation? Horniness? Depression? Despondency? Love?
I think you’re the angry one, Greg. You and others in the media like you seem to be angry at all the hype the Patriots are getting. It is strange for a team to be maligned for one week, then the next week have predictions of a 16-0 season. I’m a Patriots fan and the hype is too much for even me. As a Patriots hater, you must be going out of your mind.
But it isn’t the Patriots’ fault that ESPN, Fox, and CBS are ball washing. It doesn’t make the Patriots evil. And quite frankly, this dichotomy in the media between those who think the Patriots are perfect, and those who think they are evil, is funny to watch. I would like to see one member of the media say “It’s week 9, let’s not go overboard. The Patriots are good, but there’s lots of football left.” Then I’d like to see the same reporter say “They cheated, they were caught, they were punished, it’s a shame that they did that, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re a good team.”
"Perhaps you can say in Belichick's defense that the modern American ethos encourages us all to feel sorry for ourselves -- so much so that even someone to whom football has brought wealth, celebrity and Super Bowl rings can tell himself he's a victim. Perhaps you can say in Belichick's defense that claiming victim status is a solid psychological ploy for the New England players -- who are not to blame for their coach's cheating, which they most likely did not know was happening. The New England players still might suffer some long-term harm from the cheating, though: Given the image New England is projecting, would you want Patriots' players endorsing your product?"
And we all know that endorsements are the most important thing in the world, just ask Peyton Manning, who is on pace to break his own record this season for commercials completed.
"But if the Patriots are unfairly maligned, why the whole screw-you act they are staging? If the Patriots were unfairly maligned, they'd be trying hard to convince us their hearts are pure, and that distinctly is not what they are doing."
Greg, the Patriots do not care about what you or I think about their hearts. Nor should they.
"Sure, many New England players are awesome performers: Both of Moss' touchdown catches Sunday came when he was double-teamed; the Flying Elvii offensive line was flawless again; Mike Vrabel, waived by Pittsburgh, might be the best linebacker in the NFL. But if the Patriots are so awesome they don't need to cheat, then why were they cheating in Week 1?"
The Patriots are good because they do everything in their power in order to win. Saying “If they’re so good, why did they cheat?” is similar to asking “If they’re so good, why do they try 100%? Why do they practice? Why do they watch film?” Good teams will do anything and everything in order to win, even if they don’t need to do it.
"The whole situation remains creepy."
Greg, I think you need to find another word. Creepy is that guy on the bus talking to himself about the government. Creepy is that sound you hear in the bushes at 4 AM. Creepy is being followed by a car for a few miles. Creepy is waking up with your door unlocked and opened.
Mark Chmura is creepy. Mike Vick is creepy. Pacman Jones is creepy. These guys actually did evil and creepy things.
Creepy is not scoring a lot of points. Creepy is not videotaping an opponents’ signals. Creepy is not being crass to the media. If you want to say that Belichick’s clothes make him look like a creep, I’ll agree with you wholeheartedly. Otherwise, you should stop calling the Patriots creeps.
"Should New England continue on and win the Super Bowl without a major attitude shift toward nice-guy behavior -- and should the year end without the NFL's ever explaining what New England evidence it destroyed or why -- there could be a huge amount of cynicism about this NFL season."
From you and your media cronies, but nobody else. Some people might be bored by it, and the many fans who dislike the Patriots will be angry, but I don’t think people will write letters to the NFL saying “The Patriots aren’t very nice, I’m mad that they won the Super Bowl because they aren’t as polite as Peyton Manning, or as funny as Bill Parcells.”
"Cynicism doesn't sell a sports product, nor is it what the NFL should be marketing to the young."
Of all the things that have become associated with the NFL in the past few seasons (dog fighting, making it rain, sex boats, DUIs, steroids, the Bengals, Jon Kitna’s Halloween costume) do you really think running up the score is anywhere near the top of the list of things that the NFL shouldn’t be marketing to kids?
"That's why the Pats at Colts game Nov. 4 so clearly represents Good vs. Evil. The Colts stand for everything the NFL, and sports enthusiasts, should be proud of."
Like whining about being hit by opposing players, or constantly begging officials for flags.
"The Colts stand for a positive future for the NFL. The Patriots stand for -- well, wouldn't it be nice if the Patriots would explain to us what they stand for. When Good meets Evil, I know who I'll be rooting for."
Greg, I’ll let you in on a little secret. As I mentioned earlier, I work for the Patriots as an usher. And in my short time working there, and in the years I’ve been a fan, I’ve learned what the Patriots stand for. Do you want to know what it is? It’s victory. Plain and simple. The Patriots want to win. They don’t care about how they win, why they win, when they win, who they win against. They just want to win. So maybe they aren’t the best example for a pee-wee team when it comes to attitude or sportsmanship. But they are a great example for other NFL teams when it comes to winning.
Greg, you’ve really got to get off of your soap box before you get a leg cramp. You’ve been standing up there, jumping up and down about the Patriots since the whole camera thing started. The undefeated Patriots are playing the undefeated Colts on Sunday. Can’t you just enjoy that in and of itself? Can’t you just enjoy the two best teams in the NFL squaring off on the field? Why do you try to turn it into such pageantry, such a moral contest? It isn’t good vs. evil, it’s the Patriots vs. the Colts. Isn’t that entertaining enough, Greg?
It’s really a shame because you’re such a good writer, and your Page 2 contributions almost always make me laugh. Maybe you wrote this good vs. evil thing as a humorous piece, but I didn’t pick up on that tone. You seem to loathe the Patriots and all they stand for, which is fine if you’re just a fan, but you're also a member of the media. Haven't you heard the expression "There's no cheering in the press box?” And even if you didn’t want the Patriots to win, why are you proselytizing about their evils, trying to convert people into Patriot haters like yourself? It’s just a game, Greg. It will be played this Sunday in Indianapolis, not on Judgment Day in Armageddon.