The Ultimate Showdown…and Ultimate Uncertainty

FROM THE AUTHOR
So…it’s been almost four months since my last piece. Whoops!

Sorry about that. The thing is, life’s been busy for me lately, what with trying to find a permanent job and all. I recently worked a short-term job that finished a while ago, so I’ve been trying to get my writer’s groove back in the meantime. I won’t make any specific promises, but I should be updating this a bit more regularly from here on. I apologize once again for the lull in writing, and hope you enjoy this latest piece!


(Video courtesy of Nintendo’s official YouTube page)

2018 is the year of “Ambitious Crossovers.” In a year that has seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe come together to challenge its greatest threat, and the universes of BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY all collide in a world-bending tag team tournament, Nintendo is ready to answer with it biggest multiverse mashup ever later this year.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was the Big N’s tentpole title for E3 2018. Its biggest draw is the fact that it brings back every single character from the series’ twenty-year history, while adding in a few new faces to keep things fresh. Metroid’s Ridley, long-thought to be ineligible due to his towering stature, joins the cast alongside the Inkling from Splatoon, with the two of them being the only whole-new characters as of this writing. Meanwhile, Princess Daisy from the Super Mario series debuts as what’s known as an “Echo Character,” a character that has similar traits to another (Peach, in this instance) while also having enough uniqueness to work as a standalone entity.

When considering the re-addition of returning lost characters, the likes of which include Wolf O’ Donnell from Star Fox and Solid Snake from Metal Gear, the total number for this roster is a staggering 65, though the game’s official website suggests that there may be one more newcomer waiting in the wings for later. On top of that, the game is also set to feature mechanical tweaks that are sure to thrill competitive enthusiasts.

Indeed, Smash Bros. Ultimate is looking to be the definitive experience across the board. The evolution of the series from its humble Nintendo 64 roots has absolutely lead to this, a culmination of Masahiro Sakurai’s near-twenty years of work on the Super Smash Bros. franchise. With all of that being said, however, that just leaves one question:

Where does the series go from here?


Yeah, I get it. Ultimate was only announced a few days ago, so why speculate now? Well, for one thing, it’s fun. It’s also a valid question to ask even now; Nintendo showed the most important card in its hand, and despite the game being half a year away from its December release, it’s still something worth pondering. Maybe it’s too early to start speculating the future of Super Smash Bros. as a series beyond Ultimate. In fact, it could be argued that it’s poor form. But the fact of the matter is that Nintendo will have to address this question at some point.

So with that said, while there are plenty of possibilities for what could happen to the series after Ultimate, let’s focus on two. The first is that the game becomes a “platform,” title, meaning it gets updated regularly with new fighters, stages, and cosmetics like costumes; basically, think along the lines of League of Legends and Overwatch. (And no, that would not necessarily mean resorting to using a Lootbox-style system.) This would ensure that the game not only sees life past Day One, but each new character released has a chance to shake up the metagame, and would be adding to a roster that is already the strongest the series has ever seen, and that’s regardless of whether they’re entirely new, or an Echo Character.

Of course, it’s not the rosiest option. The main challenge in making Ultimate a platform is that Nintendo would need to devote more time and energy into supporting it. Sure, they’ve supported games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, ARMS, and the first two Splatoon games past their eventual releases, but those were only for so long. It’s not impossible, but the idea of keeping the game alive with regular updates sounds taxing for Sakurai, a man who has been known for working himself to the bone. Also, Nintendo would likely want members of Ultimate’s development team to work on other upcoming titles; granted, I don’t foresee Nintendo being in danger of stretching themselves thin, but keeping fresh minds available for future projects would be the smarter route to take.


Then there’s the second option, which would likely be the most divisive amongst the entire community, both competitive and casual alike: Reboot the series. This is a particularly-loaded idea, as it would mean doing a few different things, but amongst many other things:

  • Pairing the roster down to a select list of Nintendo’s best and brightest.
  • Renovating some of the old characters like Mario with new sets of skills.
  • Introducing potential new universal mechanics to freshen up the gameplay.
  • Maintaining a fine balance between competitive and casual appeal.

Obviously, Nintendo doesn’t necessarily need to go whole-hog if they decide to hit the reset button on Super Smash Bros., though it could be argued that some aspects such as specific character movesets feel a bit long in the tooth. That said, the series could stand to benefit from some changes and additions to make it feel new again. It should be noted that characters in Ultimate have received some significant adjustments, such as Link receiving a moveset centered on his incarnation from Breath of the Wild, but for other characters whose kits might not have been changed as much over the generations, some retooling could go a long way.

The idea of rebuilding the entire series from the ground up could be risky, and turn into a hot-button issue for some fans of the series. Most fans may be afraid of their favorite character(s) being left off the initial roster, or in a worse-case scenario, not being included at all. Fighting game franchises like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are no strangers to losing old faces with new entries, and people do get upset when their favorite is nowhere to be seen. But especially in the case of Super Smash Bros., which features some of the most iconic gaming names in the world, people may not take kindly to their favorite being left in the dust.


To reiterate, maybe speculating the series’ future in a post-Ultimate world at this point is premature, but it’s something I can’t help but wonder about. While the thought of bringing back every single character from the series’ history is awe-inspiring and wonderful, it does leave the future of the series a bit hazy. I don’t think Nintendo has to answer this question immediately, but at some point…whether it’s during the Switch era or sometime after…they’ll have to. Super Smash Bros. has become a household name for them, and it’s clear that Ultimate is the zenith of Sakurai’s work. So it does beg the question of where the series goes next.

For now, though, let’s bask in the fact that the most ambitious crossover in the history of media is just on the horizon.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

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Something About a GOAT

In life, there are three certainties: Death, taxes, and Fox Sports 1 stooge Rob Parker doling out asinine hot takes on the New England Patriots.

Between Parker and ESPN’s Max Kellerman, it’s hard to say which of the two is more obnoxious when it comes to Patriot-related viewpoints. Kellerman seems like an easy choice, since he seems to refuse to let go of his “cliff” argument, even if it seems like that argument has backfired on him. But to his credit, at least he doesn’t seem willing to say he’s no longer the GOAT (greatest of all time) of NFL quarterbacks.


On the February 6th edition of Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed with Joy Taylor, Skip Bayless & Shannon Sharpe, Parker made two points that have drawn the ire of many, especially those in New England.

First, he said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the same man who has won five of eight Super Bowls in his career, deserves 100% of the blame for the team’s loss in Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles. The reason for this is that Brady had two chances to give the Patriots either the lead, or at least a tie, in the game’s last minutes, and both were squandered.

To Parker’s credit (provided there’s some to spare in the first place), he’s not necessarily wrong. For that matter, neither is Sharpe, who only put 75% of the blame on the Patriots legend, a take that’s slightly easier to stomach. While Brady had a monster game, with 505 passing yards and three touchdowns without any interceptions, there were moments that he wasn’t entirely up to scratch. Namely, the moments where he failed to successfully catch a pass from receiver Danny Amendola, lost the ball on a strip-sack by the Eagles’ Brandon Graham, and failed to get the offense down the field fast enough to score in the closing seconds.

However, while Brady deserves at least SOME of the blame, his shortcomings are only one part of the larger picture. Let’s look at those last two blunders a little closer, shall we?


First of all, on the matter of the strip-sack, some of the blame goes to the Patriots’ offensive line. They had done a decent-enough job of holding back the Eagles’ hellacious pass-rush up until that point, so the fact that they let Graham slip through and get to Brady is a strike against them. Brady could’ve thrown the ball a bit sooner, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the offensive line caved in at the worst moment.

As for Brady not having enough time to get the offense down the field to score a possible touchdown and two-point conversion, part of the blame in that instance falls to the special teams unit. While it was mostly a non-factor outside of a handful of field goal attempts, this is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Following what would ultimately be the Eagles’ clinching field goal, Patriots running back Dion Lewis fielded the ensuing kickoff, and then flipped the ball to fellow running back Rex Burkhead in hopes of, I assume, pulling off something akin to the Tennessee Titans’ Music City Miracle, bleeding a few seconds off the clock in the process. It ultimately didn’t work, but what makes this instance worse is that had Lewis simply called for a fair catch rather than try and generate some trickery, Brady would’ve had a little more time to try and get the offense down the field fast enough to try and tie the game up.


Brady isn’t entirely faultless for the Patriots’ defeat. However, the the lion’s share of the blame goes to the defense, and for good reason. Every time the offense or special teams managed to close the gap, tie the game up, or even take the lead, the onus was then on the defense to prevent the Eagles’ offense from turning the tide back in their favor. But that obviously didn’t happen, as the defense…notably dreadful on third and fourth down…failed to make crucial stops when they were needed, allowing quarterback Nick Foles and company to trek across the field at-will and constantly put the Patriots’ offense on the back-foot. There’s also the matter of questionable coaching decisions on New England’s side, chief among them being the benching of former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. But that’s a whole other topic for another time.

So, to close out this part of my argument, here’s how I would parcel out the blame for the Patriots’ shortcomings:

Defense: 30%
Coaching: 25%
Offensive Line: 20%
Brady: 20%
Special Teams: 5%

Like I said, Brady does deserve at least some blame for the Patriots coming up short in their quest for a sixth Super Bowl title. But to say he deserves all of it when there’s more to it than what he didn’t do is a ridiculous statement.

Which, when you think about it, fits Rob Parker’s anti-Patriots M.O. like a glove.


With all of that out of the way, the next point of Parker’s is that the Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl LII removes Brady from the argument for the GOAT, and returns San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana to the top of the list. His main argument is that Montana won all four of the Super Bowls he played in, throwing for 1,142 yards, 83 completions, and eleven touchdowns, while Brady has only won five of his eight Super Bowls, even though he’s thrown for 2,576 yards, 235 completions, and 18 touchdowns.

Believe it or not, this debate has been a point of contention even before Super Bowl LII had been decided. It’s hard to come to a consensus in this instance; keep in mind that Montana and Brady played in two different eras, and under different circumstances. Montana played in a salary cap-less era surrounded by starpower, and Brady plays in a generation WITH a salary cap, and arguably less high-profile talent to boot. Still, saying that Brady is no longer the GOAT because he’s lost three Super Bowls is a ridiculous argument when you consider the fact that he still has one more win than Montana, and many of the former’s stats dwarf the latter to boot.

One thing that Sharpe has brought up a few times on Undisputed is that sports have a “short menu consisting of wins and losses.” While a spotless record is certainly an incredible feat, losses should not count against arguments for the GOAT, and Brady has still won more than he’s lost in the Super Bowl. More than that, there are athletes that are still talked about as being the GOAT of their sports despite losing at the championship stage multiple times.

Such athletes include Derek Jeter, perhaps the most revered modern day New York Yankee. The former superstar shortstop was known for being the driving force of five of the Yankees’ numerous World Series championships, including the 1998-2000 three-peat period where he was named the 2000 World Series MVP. Conversely, he was also part of two Yankees teams that suffered from World Series losses. The first came at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and the next to the Florida Marlins two years later.

Kobe Bryant has the same distinction as Jeter, oft-regarded as an all-time legend and leading five Los Angeles Lakers teams to NBA Finals Championships; three of them from 2000-2002, and two from 2009-2010. He was also voted Finals MVP for the last two. Also like Jeter, he was a part of two Lakers teams that lost in the NBA Finals. The losses came at the hands of the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, both within four years of each other.

So, by Parker’s logic, if Brady is disqualified from GOAT status because he’s lost three Super Bowls, that means Jeter, Bryant, and athletes with similar credentials are also disqualified. If you’re going to disqualify one athlete from consideration as the GOAT because they lost in the big moment, you need to disqualify all of them on the same grounds.

And before it’s bought up, this does not factor in the Deflategate allegations leveled against Brady; contrary to popular opinion, it was never actually proven that he was involved to any sort of extent. Plus, if you’re going to hold Brady’s Deflategate allegations against him, you need to do the same for Bryant’s rape allegations, which are far worse in context; once again, what you apply to one you must apply to all.


Parker’s animosity towards New England is unsurprising by this point, but it seems as though the level of stupidity and cluelessness in his hot takes has peaked. Blaming the Patriots’ loss 100% on Brady, saying his status as the GOAT is revoked and returned to Montana, and claiming that 5-3 is “basically .500,” is a slap in the face of common logic.

Make no mistake, he’s free to dislike Brady as he pleases, but takes like those are an extensive kind of ridiculous. Thankfully, even people outside the New England area are keenly aware of the man’s outrageous logic, and have called him out on it accordingly.

Then again, anyone would call out the BS of a man who asked Rod Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator.


In short:
Does Tom Brady deserve some of the blame for losing the Super Bowl? Yes.
Does losing a third Super Bowl disqualify him from being the GOAT? No.
Does Rob Parker sound absolutely stupid with this take? You bet.
Will that change any time soon? Don’t count on it.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

No Quarterback’s an Evergreen

My fellow New England Patriots fans: Let’s have a little heart-to-heart, shall we?

Very few things in this life are eternal. The skills of an NFL quarterback, whether you like it or not, are no exception to this rule. And this includes your hero and mine, Tom Brady.


No doubt, Brady has been a boon for the Patriots since he hit the scene in 2001. Barring two crushing Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants and a negative record against longtime nemesis Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship Game, his resume is one of the most decorated of any player in the sport, being the only player besides Charles Haley to claim that they have won five Super Bowl titles. The efficiency and skill with which he’s lead the Patriots back from the brink of defeat is unmatched, including the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history two short months ago. Simply put, Brady is a gridiron god.

Recently, Brady told the Pats’ owner, Robert Kraft, that he intends to keep playing for what he claims is “six or seven years.” That might sound well and good, and I’m sure many of you were (and still are) licking your chops at the prospect of Brady leading the Patriots to even more Super Bowl wins.

But let’s pump the brakes for just a minute and be real here: Tom Brady isn’t going to play for another six or seven years.


Now, if he thinks he can pull out another seven quality years at most, more power to him. While I think he’ll play for less than what he claims, I’m putting nothing past him in that regard; the fact that he’s played as well as he has over the years is a testament to how he’s kept himself in such fantastic shape. It’s especially impressive since he’s playing this well in an age range where most quarterbacks’ skills tend to taper off.

On top of that, suggesting that Brady will see a sharp decline in skill any time in the immediate future is foolish. Case and point: Max Kellerman of ESPN’s First Take suggested (rather idiotically) that Brady would “fall off a cliff” and “become a bum in short order” once he returned from his unwarranted Deflategate suspension. Even when he missed those first four games, Brady put up regular season numbers on par with a quarterback who had played a full season. And that’s before leading the Patriots’ through the postseason and their Super Bowl LI comeback. Suffice to say, Kellerman was given more than just a slice of humble pie.


That said, while Brady is nowhere close to falling off the wagon any time soon, it’s not unrealistic to believe it’ll happen later in the future. For how well he keeps himself in shape and preps for each game day, age is going to take hold at some point. Father Time has caught up with the best athletes before, and he’ll get to Brady at some point. It won’t be this coming season, more than likely, but it’s going to happen regardless. And when that happens, you better be ready for the post-Brady era in New England.

So, how much longer will Brady go on for? Provided he doesn’t suffer another catastrophic injury like he did in 2008, my best bet would be that he has three solid years left in him. In that timeframe, if Bill Belichick can keep a solid team together…and injuries don’t force him to resort to glue, dental floss and the hopes of small children to keep the team’s title hopes alive…he and the Patriots will win one more Super Bowl at the absolute least.


Believe me, I’ve been around for virtually all of Brady’s time as New England’s field general, and it’s going to be a sad day when the man decides to hang up his cleats for good. He’s been an excellent quarterback, and an equally-excellent man off the field as seen through his philanthropic endeavors. Be that as it may, no athlete is like an evergreen; age sets in at some point, and even with all of Brady’s physical upkeep, it’ll get to him, too. That’s just the reality of things.

In short: Enjoy the Tom Brady Era while you can, Pats fans, because it’s not going to last much longer.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

Quick Hits: In Defense of the Jimquisition

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been out on Nintendo’s Wii U and their brand-new Switch for a few weeks, and has so far been the toast of the town. Rave reviews have pinned it as one of the greatest games in the series since Ocarina of Time, with its wide-open world being a recurring positive element among reviewers; the general consensus seems to be that the game is deserving of perfect scores all around.

Then there are those moments where the game gets a score that’s less than perfect, and this is where the fanimals are particularly rabid.


Jim Sterling, a longtime video game journalist and host of The Jimquisition, reviewed Breath of the Wild more than a week ago at the time this writing went up, and gave the game an overall score of 7/10, which constitutes a “Good” game by his standards. While he praised most of what the game has to offer, he stated that his overall enjoyment was gimped by elements such as weapon durability, stamina, and rain popping up at inconvenient times and making mountainous terrain difficult to navigate safely. Naturally, hardcore Zelda fans have jumped down his throat about this.


Now, to be clear, I have not played Breath of the Wild as of this writing. I’m still waiting on getting a Nintendo Switch due to personal reasons, and those same reasons have kept me from getting the game on the Wii U. My only “experience” with the game has come from watching other people play it.

That being said, I don’t see why Sterling should be taken to task just because he gave Breath of the Wild a less-than-perfect verdict.

Yes, Breath of the Wild makes a lot of bold changes to the classic Zelda formula. Not all of them are going to sit well with people, and that’s exactly what’s going on here. It’s fine if you don’t have an issue with weapon durability, but that doesn’t mean Sterling should be admonished for thinking that the mechanic is a problem.

Besides, it’s not like he outright hated the game. In fact, if you read Sterling’s review for yourself, you’ll see that in addition to his problems with the game, he praised several elements as well, including the difficulty, the “lived-in” feel of this incarnation of Hyrule, and all the little details strewn throughout. Just because someone enjoys something doesn’t mean it’s automatically deserving of a perfect score; heck, as Sterling himself demonstrated, you can enjoy something while also pointing out any flaws it may have. I’m sure I’ll disagree with his opinions if…and when…I eventually get to play Breath of the Wild for myself, but at the same time I’ll be willing to respect them for what they are: Opinions.


In short: Yes, Jim Sterling gave The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 7/10. No, he did not commit a cardinal sin by not giving it a 10/10. Carry on.


‘Til we meet again,
Tom

NFL = No Flippin’ Logic

Before we begin, I just want to address one thing: I know that the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl recently. I really don’t mean to come off as a buzz kill in light of such a joyful occasion. But this is something that needs to be brought to light, for better or worse.

Having said that…let me ask you something.

Has there ever been something that you’ve grown up loving, and then something happened to sour your love for it? Did it change your view to the point of leaving it behind?

That’s the case with me and the National Football League.


When I was a kid, I loved watching NFL games. I remember watching the 2001 AFC Championship Game with my dad when I was 11, when Drew Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI, which would eventually become the start of a Patriot dynasty. And as time went on, I’d always make it a mission to watch any game I could manage to find. The NFL was my gateway to sports, it’s what started me on my way to getting into leagues like Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League. Heck, I probably wouldn’t be into competitive video games if I didn’t get into the NFL.

Recently, however, I honestly couldn’t be bothered to willfully watch an NFL game. And you may be wondering why that is. Is it because I felt like the games were declining in quality? No. Is it because the officiating is usually godawful? No. Is it because there’s too much of the NFL on a week-to-week basis to the point of over saturation? No. So what is it?

You might be reading this and thinking that since I’m from the New England area, I’m just being a salty Patriots fan who was upset that Tom Brady was suspended four games for Deflategate, even after the Patriots pulled off the grandest comeback in NFL history. If that’s the case, I’ll say that you’re half-right. As upsetting and frustrating as the suspension of Brady was, however, what many people don’t realize is that there’s more to it; Brady’s suspension is part of a larger problem that the NFL has.

In short, it’s a matter of trust…or a lack thereof, in the NFL’s case.

The long answer is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his friends at the NFL’s front office, even if they claim the contrary, have an issue with moral priorities.

It seems like whenever the NFL comes under fire for something that legitimately damages the integrity they so love to bring up, they do next-to-nothing about it. Yet, when it comes to smaller, more minor issues like a rash of locker room bullying or underinflated footballs, they’ll go all-out and spend millions of dollars on investigations.

To get my point across, allow me to explain to you two different cases: The aforementioned Deflategate, and the recent revelation that former New York Giants placekicker Josh Brown abused his ex-wife on several different levels. When you look at the finer details of each case, you will see that not only are both cases poles apart in terms of severity, but when you think more about it, it conveys a chilling message that ultimately makes the NFL look like a league of hypocrites and scumbags.


First, let’s begin with Deflategate. In the wake of the 2014 AFC Conference Championship between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts two years ago, the former was suspected of tampering footballs and deflating them below the NFL’s 11.5 minimum. What followed was what many consider to be the most outrageous and drawn-out case of “Much Ado about Nothing” in NFL history. While Ted Wells oversaw an investigation at the request of the NFL, there were scientists, professors, and even middle school children that stepped forward and explained that the Ideal Gas Law was the reason why those balls were under the minimum PSI; bear in mind, those balls were subjected to frigid winds and driving rain that evening.

Basically, they all proved that neither the equipment crew nor Brady had anything to do with the balls being under the legal PSI.

Despite that, the infamous Wells Report claimed in May of 2015 that it was “more probable than not” that the Patriots’ equipment staff were behind the deflated footballs. As a result, the team was given a doozy of a punishment. They were fined $1,000,000 (lunch money by the wealthy Kraft family’s standards), and stripped of first AND fourth round NFL Draft picks over the next two years. Perhaps the most damning part of the verdict was the fact that Brady was suspended for the first four games without pay for being “generally aware” of the equipment staff’s supposed tampering. Following an appeal by the NFL’s Players Association on Brady’s behalf, the suspension was upheld in July after it was revealed that Brady had destroyed his cellphone as, supposedly, a means of covering his tracks.

The case then went to a legal battle. Richard Berman of the U.S. District Court vacated the suspension just before the beginning of the 2015 NFL season, citing that not only did Brady receive no fair due process, but the NFL had no evidence to actually back up the claims. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated the suspension on the grounds that Goodell could handle the punishment as he so desired. Brady ultimately gave up the fight and served his suspension for the first quarter of this most-recent season rather than take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. All of this in spite of the fact that, once again, the NFL had no actual evidence to back up their claims.


Now we come to the Josh Brown case, and this is where you start to see the holes in the NFL’s logic. Shortly after the initial Wells Report verdict (funnily enough), Brown was arrested for assaulting his ex-wife, Molly Brown. As a result, Brown was initially suspended for one game at the start of the 2016 season after a prolonged legal process; while domestic violence incidents among NFL athletes call for a minimum of six games on the first offense (with more being added on in the event of aggravated circumstances), the reason this case yielded only a one game suspension was due to the NFL claiming that they had “insufficient information.”

However, Diana Moskovitz of Deadspin eventually found the Giants’ Pandora’s Box. And the minute it was opened, all Hell broke loose.

On top of the official divorce court records being revealed…the same ones that the NFL claimed that they couldn’t get a hold of…Brown was shown to have been abusing his ex-wife to physical, verbal, and emotional extents as far back as 2009, when she was pregnant with their daughter. He even viewed himself as God and Molly as his slave…which, if you don’t see an issue with, I genuinely don’t know what to tell you.

In addition, Brown was shown to be involved in another incident during the 2016 Pro Bowl, something that had gone unreported up to this point. He had tracked down his ex-wife and the former couple’s children, and pounded on their hotel room door in a drunken rage. It had gotten so out of hand that security for both the NFL and the hotel they were staying at had to step in and move Molly Brown and their children to a different hotel.

Worse still is the fact that not only was the NFL aware of the abuse Brown was dishing out to his ex-wife (including the incident at the Pro Bowl), but Giants owner John Mara was also aware of what was going on. Despite that, Mara signed Brown to a one-year deal that following April, only dropping him when the truth came out later that same year.

Do you see the issue here?


What most people don’t seem to get is that when it comes to off-field issues that actually damage the NFL’s overall integrity, such as domestic violence or DUI, they don’t do much about it. Moreso, they hardly show that they care about those issues; even when they try to show that they care, it doesn’t come off as genuine. They give the offender a slap on the wrist, chastise them, and move on, and that’s at the absolute most. Instead of actually cracking down on those cases, however, they seem content doing the same with what could be argued as minor issues like the Richie Incognito bullying controversy from a few years ago, or Deflategate.

This is why I’m so down on the NFL as of late, and why I’ve chosen not to write about them until now. They’ve raked Tom Brady and the Patriots across the coals when they should’ve been doing the same thing to people like Brown, Greg Hardy, and the man who actually got the NFL to try and take a hard stance on domestic violence in the first place, Ray Rice. They could’ve shown themselves as a league of their word and stand by their own policies, but as the Josh Brown case has so aptly demonstrated, they can’t be bothered.

And to anyone who may think that I approve of the Patriots’ supposedly-shady actions, let me be very clear. Deflating footballs is a scummy move; I’m not saying it isn’t, and the Patriots know that as well as any other team in the league. What I am saying, however, is that Goodell and the rest of the NFL brass have serious morality issues if they feel deflated footballs deserve a longer suspension than a domestic violence case. For that matter, the notion that deflated footballs deserve a suspension at all is suspect. And I understand that the Patriots have gotten themselves in “trouble” in the past with things like Spygate, which was not as big a deal as most like to make it out to be. However, that’s not the point.

The point is that the NFL is being generally stupid when it comes to off-field issues that damage the integrity they’re so gung-ho on protecting. And, as stupid goes, they don’t seem to realize it; either that, or they’re feigning stupidity just so they can keep their cash flow coming in strong.


People like Shannon Sharpe of Fox Sports 1’s Skip and Shannon: Undisputed say that Goodell, instead of handling outside transactions like domestic violence or DUI, should stick to handing out punishments that affect the integrity of the game, such as deflated balls or gambling. I’d be willing to agree with Sharpe’s words if Goodell’s judgment for on-field punishments were any better.

Sadly, that’s not the case.

Consider for a moment that the NFL caught the Minnesota Vikings doctoring footballs on a cold November day in Minneapolis, and all they ever received from the league’s front office was a warning against ball tampering. Adding to that, the league didn’t even bother to look into the reported deflation issues during this past season’s game between the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, which certainly irked Patriot Nation. In both cases, there didn’t seem to be much concern.

And yet the Patriots’ alleged tampering deserves an elaborate investigation? Just because of their past? It’s a wonder Goodell still has his job.


So, in closing, the NFL’s ineptitude on major issues is what has turned me off from them, and the fact that they’d rather tear down their most successful team of the 21st Century instead of focusing on what’s truly hurting their brand doesn’t help at all. They’d rather attempt to slay dragons that were never there instead of going after the ones that exist; it’s startling, appalling, and makes them look bad to those who see with eyes unclouded by Patriot-focused hate. With all of that in mind, the only way I see myself regaining any sort of trust in the league is if Goodell either admits Deflategate was a deliberate sting operation from the get-go, or he steps down as commissioner altogether; in a perfect world, he would do both. But seeing that none of those scenarios are likely to happen any time soon, it’s doubtful I will find myself wanting to watch another NFL game for a while.

But as they say around One Patriot Place: “It is what it is.”

‘Til we meet again,
Tom