I really have mixed feelings about the outcome of yesterday’s Super Bowl. It was a fantastic game, no matter who you were rooting for, and that’s always nice. Historically a lot of Super Bowls have been yawners.
I wasn’t really pulling for the Giants so much as I was against the Patriots, and that was tough for me, too. See, when you look at how New England does things, they really get a lot right. No prima donnas. We, not me. Brains and teamwork trump individual athleticism. Etc. In essence, they have won by repudiating everything that’s wrong about sports in this day and age. They’re the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL.
As an old-school guy who was raised by an even older-school grandfather, this matters to me. He was one of those guys who grew up through the Depression and who actually did walk six miles to school each day. People who knew him way back when thought that in a different day and age he might have been good enough to make it to the bigs in baseball, but the hard realities of life intervened.
At my house, sportsmanship mattered. Losing right was preferred to winning wrong. Education was more important that sports. And you did it right or you didn’t play. Period. There was no compromise on any of this.
So despite my appreciation for The Patriot Way, I was more than a little distressed by revelations earlier this year that Bill Belichick, the architect of the program, had intentionally, willfully and with malice aforethought broken the rules of the game. I don’t care whether or not a significant advantage was gained. I don’t care whether or not you think other teams do it to (around here, proof carries more weight than paranoid conspiracy theory). I don’t care if others don’t see it this way. All I care about is that the man established a clever process for cheating.
Given how people tend to operate, I’m skeptical that the instance he got busted for this year was the only time he’s cheated, especially in light of reports bubbling up that he did it to St. Louis before the 2002 Super Bowl. Am I being unfair here and violating my own rule about proof? Put it this way. When you do what we now know he did, you forfeit any presumption of innocence. Even if this is the only time in your life you broke a rule, you have given away your right and ability to call on your reputation.
I understand the rage in Bob Lefsetz’s rant in today’s e-mail newsletter:
But we live in a country of pussy penalties, everyone must be given multiple chances, because otherwise the ECONOMY might suffer! It’s all about the money…
And I don’t want to say today’s game had nothing to do with bread, but I felt a righting of the solar system, a giant correction factor. Reverse the curse? After Bill Clinton lied, the truth was for losers. Mr. Smith got kicked out of not only Washington, but the courtroom, everywhere in America. We live in a nation of lying, cheating scumbags. Especially those with power. There’s no honor, just spacious houses and expensive automobiles…But, FINALLY, that old axiom held true… CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER! The Patriots lost. Couldn’t happen to a more smug crew. I can’t say that I love the Giants, not since Y.A. Tittle and Ally Sherman, but I think you play the game with all you’ve got, you don’t fight for an illegal edge, and if you happen to lose, well NOBODY ALWAYS WINS!
Enron. Bernie Ebbers. Joe Nacchio. Dennis Koslowski. The Rigas. Is Bellicheat in their league? Well, his taping of the Jets, his alleged taping of the Rams and whatever else he may have done didn’t destroy anyone’s pension, so maybe not.
But we’re a nation of sport and the NFL is one of our most prominent morality plays. It’s symbolic, and what happens in our major sports teaches us, and especially our kids, lessons that will endure for as long as they live. Think your kids aren’t learning from Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the Mitchell Report?
NFL Commish Roger Goodell went too light on the Pats and his behavior of late makes me wonder if he’s trying to make a looming scandal go away for the good of the league’s
image bottom line. Don’t know, but time will tell.
In any case, it’s good when we see cheaters failing to prosper. I hate it for a class act like Junior Seau, who may have seen his last shot at a ring die with David Tyree’s epic catch, but this is a small price to pay for an important lesson.
If you’re a parent, I hope you’ll make the most of this teachable moment in sports history.