Editor’s Note: Once again this season we will hand control of this column over to Andy, aka Zeus, for his unique perspective on the state of the NFL and of Patriot Nation. All I can say is that if you enjoy his opinions even one half as much as I do, you will not only find his entries entertaining, insightful and well worth reading, but they will also leave you looking forward to the next installment. Enjoy…
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Well, I have been putting this off and for no good reason. But it is time to unburden myself about the upcoming NFL season. As the seven or eight regular readers of this feature may recall, This and That appears in this space on an inconsistent-to-semi-regular basis to share meandering thoughts about pigskin related matters. It is intended to stimulate further conversation but has rarely been even remotely successful in that regard. What the content lacks in brevity, it more than makes up for in incoherence. If, like me, you are the sort of person whose lips get tired after reading more than three sentences in one sitting, you are advised to turn your attention elsewhere.
Some innocent facts may occasionally be sacrificed in the interests of entertainment. With all that in mind, here we go â€¦
1. Adrenaline Deficit Disorder – Adrenaline is the drug of choice of red-blooded sports fans everywhere. It is adrenaline that focuses our attention, causes our palms to sweat and our pulses to race. It is adrenaline that sears events into our memory â€“ thatâ€™s why you can remember Vinatieriâ€™s field goal against the Rams like it was yesterday.
It is also adrenaline that is completely absent from the local sports scene. The Celtics are in for a prolonged rebuilding effort and the Bruins season went off a cliff against the hated Canadiens. And now, the Red Sox again have unloaded a goodly portion of their roster in the middle of a disappointing season. (The Sox unceremoniously dumped 80% of their starting rotation, choosing to keep only Clay Buchholtz, a guy who looks more like a heroin addict than a baseball player.)
Here come the Patriots with 2014 looming as the teamâ€™s most anticipated season since 2007. Weâ€™ll all still have to wait until September to get the real jolt that will restart our adrenal glands, but at least the end is in sight.
2. Hot Air â€“ During June and July, the lack of truly meaningful football action creates a void that is filled by players, coaches and owners making stupid pronouncements. Teams who havenâ€™t sniffed the playoffs in years declare themselves playoff teams. Thereâ€™s also a proliferation of franchise quarterbacks, 2000 yard rushers and 20+ sack pass rushers, exactly none of which ever comes to fruition. Sooner or later, someone is going to play a real football game; that will be a relief to say the least.
3. Reign of Error – Itâ€™s been a bad stretch in the haphazard administration of the intrepid Commissioner Blockhead. His Reefer Madness crusade against Demon Marijuana continues unabated, as does his vendetta against tackling, pass defense and the unsightly contagion of non-regulation socks. Now, itâ€™s the commissionerâ€™s job to overlook whatever bad behavior is being perpetrated by the denizens of the Billionaire Boys Club. Itâ€™s perfectly acceptable for Irsay Jr. to careen around the streets of Indianapolis at 12 miles per hour with a head full of dangerous chemicals in a car full of illegally obtained prescription drugs and $30,000 in loose change. (Extreme wealth does lend an aura of respectability not readily available to your garden variety street-urchin-dope-fiend.) Similarly, defrauding your customers of tens of millions of dollars is perfectly okay as long as you have the financial wherewithal to purchase a Get Out of Jail Free Card, which, in the case of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, cost $92 million. (Ed. Note: for public safety purposes, please do not wait underwater for Roger to take any action in either of these cases.)
Goodellâ€™s obscene compensation (which approximated the combined pay of Brady, Brees and Manning in 2013) should be an affront to every player, coach and paying customer of the NFL. That the owners canâ€™t find someone better for the job at significantly less money is an indictment of their overblown business acumen or their integrity or both. I guess $44 million must be the going rate for a cabana boy â€“ it must be nice to know they can count on Roger to look the other way.
4. Domestic abuse is no laughing matter – One can only hope that Ray Rice is sincerely contrite and will follow through on his promise to change. The commissionerâ€™s tone deaf treatment of this matter has given the league a black eye. The victim interceding on behalf of her assailant is all too common; using this as justification for less stringent punishment is potentially a grave error in judgment.
5. A Humane Solution – A pressing concern for good people everywhere is the sad state of affairs known as the new york jets. Hereâ€™s one solution: euthanize the franchise. Players and coaches could be humanely moved to obscure locations (a la the Federal Witness Protection Program) and season ticket holders could be bused to Atlantic City to gamble away the remainder of their meaningless existence in squalid decrepitude. In turn, the league would be free to place an expansion franchise, unburdened by the stench of 45 years of failure and embarrassment, in London or Los Angeles or San Antonio (or Davenport, Iowa, for that matter). This initiative should be undertaken as soon as possible if for no other reason than it is The Right Thing to Do.
6. Good vs. Great – The winter sports of hockey and basketball recently concluded their seasons in June (for reasons related to television contracts). The Los Angeles Kingsâ€™ Stanley Cup victory was a high wire act, with dramatic comebacks and near-death experiences. The San Antonio Spurs championship run was an awesome display of excellence not seen in any sport in a long time. Both teams are champions. One prevailed by the slimmest of margins. The other played well outside any conceivable margin of error, completely dominating its opponents. This is the difference between a good team and a great one. Will the 2014 Patriots be merely good or can they aspire to be a great?
Thanks much Andy, for taking the time to break down the current state of the NFL.
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