Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots

Why Are People More Worried about #Deflategate than #NFL’s Pay-for-Play Faux Patriotism?

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Folks, a while back, I wrote about the biggest scandal to hit the NFL in quite some time.

No, it wasn’t Deflategate. (For the record, I truly don’t care whether Tom Brady threw deflated footballs or not.)

No, it wasn’t even Spygate, which is a much worse problem in that the New England Patriots admitted to spying on at least one other team in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Instead, it was a pay-for-play scandal that Keith Olbermann found out about while browsing the Internet. NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers, the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers were paid $5.4 million dollars to put “Hometown Hero” spots on jumbotrons; the Department of Defense gave the NFL this money to promote not patriotism — faux patriotism though this is — but for recruitment purposes.

It’s like the Department of Defense was saying, “See, men and women? If you join the military, you can be feted at a NFL game! Yet another reason to sign up!”

The reason this was and is plain, flat wrong is because most people — myself included — believed that these men and women were being singled out truly because they were — and are — heroes. Not because the Department of Defense had paid money to 14 NFL teams to do so.

The only major broadcaster who picked this story up was Keith Olbermann. He was passionate, explaining just what’s wrong with this sort of faux patriotism, and read NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the riot act.

Olbermann was right to do this. What the NFL did in taking this money was absolutely shameful. That the NFL pushed the blame onto the 14 teams that took the money is at best a deflection; it is not an excuse.

At the moment, Olbermann is off the air. (Rumors abound that Olbermann will be reunited with MSNBC, one of his former employers, soon — MSNBC has a huge ratings problem, and Olbermann always drew great ratings. I hope for once that rumor will prove to be fact.) No other major broadcaster has taken up the baton in this area — meaning it is impossible for me, as a fan, to know that the “hometown hero” segments that continue to go on to this day in both the NFL and in major league baseball are legitimate — or if they’re the same type of phony patriotism Olbermann rightly excoriated months ago.

Now, there are two Senators, both from Arizona, who are continuing to look into this, these being Senator Jeff Flake and Senator John McCain. They’ve both been critical of this practice. (McCain is a former POW, as well as being a former Presidential candidate, and his voice carries great weight.) Flake said, according to an ESPN report from May of 2015:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said to ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

What I want to know is this: Why is everyone so worried about whether or not Tom Brady threw deflated footballs, when taking money to “promote” the military in this cynical fashion is a far bigger scandal?

As Olbermann rightly said months ago (see his full comment on YouTube here):

If this time, our time, is one in which the country is pro-military, and if that is reflected at sporting events, so be it.  But for that sense for where the nation is regarding sending our citizens in harm’s way — for or against — for that to be secretly tampered with by the government, by the Defense Department, using your money to purchase public sentiment and pay off the NFL, MLB, NBA, the HIGH SCHOOLS, and all the rest to influence that, that is intolerable! And it is dishonest! It is dishonest in an area where honesty is the only acceptable policy. As dishonest as if the LA clubs never revealed that they are paid nearly $6 million to call it Staples Center and instead insisted that they did so out of admiration for the company.

Folks, I hope the two Arizona Senators continue to be vigilant. Because until Olbermann gets another program, it is very unlikely we’re going to find out the whole story…because no one else seems to care.

And I, for one, see that as incredibly sad.

The Topsy-Turvy, Upside-Down NFL: Packers lose, Colts win, and Tebow becomes a “mere mortal”

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Today’s slate of National Football League games held high drama, stunning reversals, and at least one game that featured the comeuppance of a highly-touted player, Tim Tebow.

First, the local news: the Green Bay Packers’ bid to go undefeated this season is over.  They lost, 19-14, to the Kansas City Chiefs; the Chiefs played a very strong, ball-control offense and didn’t give up any offensive turnovers.  Aaron Rodgers, who’s had an outstanding season thus far, had a rather pedestrian game with 235 yards passing, was sacked four times, and even threw one INT (though to be fair, many of his receivers, including TE Jermichael Finley, dropped many well-thrown balls, which is partly why Rodgers’ stat line read 17-35); in fact, NFL retread Kyle Orton, who’s the Chiefs newest QB, had a far better game with 299 yards passing on 23-31 attempts, with no sacks and no INTs.

Read more about the Packers-Chiefs game here; the Packers new record is 13-1, while the Chiefs are at 6-8.

Now, as for the good surprise of the day — the Indianapolis Colts have finally won their first game, trouncing the Tennessee Titans 27-13.  Colts starting QB Dan Orlovsky has finally won a game (in his previous seven years in the NFL, Orlovsky was 0-9 as a starter), the Colts have avoided an 0-16 season, and Colts’ fans can finally hold their heads up high after their team played an excellent second half to deny Tennessee (7-7).

Here’s what the Titans’ coach Mike Munchak had to say about it all:

“I never would have expected us to come out, and they’re playing like the team going to the playoffs and we’re the team that’s 0-13,” coach Mike Munchak said. “We just weren’t playing well at all. The intensity wasn’t there at the start.”

That’s why the NFL has its famous saying, that anyone can beat anyone else on “any given Sunday.”  Because I agree with Munchak; the Titans still have a chance to go to the playoffs, while the Colts came into this game winless and really had only one halfway decent game all year before this (and they still lost it).

Finally, the New England Patriots did something I never thought they could do: they got me to root for them.

Why is this?  Well, it’s simple.  I have a hard time with players like Tim Tebow, who seem to believe that God cares whether or not they win football games.  (I believe the Deity cares about individuals playing the games, yes.  And I think that the Deity probably cares whether the games are “clean” ones, with no dirty play, no gamblers’ interference, and no terrible injuries.  But I do not believe any Deity worth His, Her, or Its salt would ever care about who actually wins these games — that’s up to the players, and coaches, and how hard everyone works, and sometimes even whether or not the ball bounces the right way.)

Tebow, you see, is not a prototypical NFL QB.  So much has been written about this because Tebow runs as well as passes; he’s far from the first QB to do this, as NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton was famous for this back in the early 1970s, but there’s been so much press about Tebow of the fawning variety that I’ve had it.

So I actually rooted for New England, even though I dislike their team and don’t really care for Tom Brady as a person, either — though of course I admire his play on the field — because the Patriots, to the best of my knowledge, have never had any player whatsoever insist that his ability to play football is “divinely inspired.”**

At any rate, while Tebow did run for two TDs (and looked good doing it), and threw for 194 yards and looked halfway decent doing that (Tebow is left-handed and has an off-kilter throwing motion, though it has improved), the Patriots were by far the better team; this is why the Patriots (11-3) won, 41-23, over the Broncos (8-6).  Brady had an excellent day, throwing for 320 yards and completing 23 of 34 passes with two throwing TDs and one rushing TD.  (Note that many of the Broncos had “fumble-itis” for most of the second half, which is one reason why Tebow couldn’t perform any of his comeback “mojo.”)

Read more about the Broncos — and Tebow’s — comeuppance here.

As for next week?  Who knows what’ll happen in the NFL, other than that there’ll be some great games, some good ones, some stunning upsets and some thrilling comebacks (in no particular order).



Note that Green Bay Packers DE and legend Reggie White (aka “the Minister of Defense”), sometimes did say that God was on his side.  But he was a minister.  I have a better understanding of why a minister would say this than someone like Tebow, who isn’t.  And White didn’t say this from the time he was a rookie, either, nor did he come into the league and insist from the start that God was on his side to the exclusion of everyone else in the league — White believed God was on his side, sure, but he also believed that God had given him the ability to play football so White himself could help determine the outcome on the field along with the other players constituting the Green Bay Packers.  (In other words, while White was a Godly man, he believed that football is a team sport.  Which, of course, it is.)

I far prefer White’s attitude to Tebow’s, because I understand why someone who believes in God and is an extremely spiritual person (as White was; I met him, once, and there was no doubt) would believe God is everywhere, including on the football field.  But I do not understand why any one player like Tebow would believe that God is so much on his side that this is the only reason his team, the Broncos, has won any games whatsoever — that denigrates everyone on the Broncos who isn’t Tebow, and that’s the main reason I really don’t understand Tebow’s attitude.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm