Saturday, September 5, 2015

Opinion - Goodell's Plan To Avoid Gillette On Opening Night Insulting To Team, Fans

In sports, time was that the vanquished always stuck around after the defeat to offer their congratulations to the victors in the name of sportsmanship.

In baseball and basketball, this usually entailed a quick five and fist bump, then retreating to the side to watch the winning team celebrate, taking it all in and making a very surreal mental note of the pain, using it as motivation to do better the next time around. Hockey has a fantastic playoff tradition of a handshake line in which the combatants offer heartfelt congratulations or condolences.

Hell, this past February we all witnessed something we thought we'd never see, Seattle Seahawks resident big mouth and elite cornerback Richard Sherman - he of the "you mad, Bro?" fame - extend his hand to an emotional Tom Brady after the Patriots had defeated his team in the Super Bowl, telling him he is a great player - and Brady reciprocating in accepting his hand.

So why would the commissioner of the National Football League, who had just been given a nasty beating in Federal court over his overreaching suspension of New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, decline to be on hand for the unfurling of the Patriots' latest conquest? Why would the man whose every other word uttered during the whole "Deflategate" abomination was "integrity", refuse to act in the very spirit of the word?

It was an embarrassing loss for the commissioner to be sure, but to make a decision to not be at Gillette Stadium on the night that the Patriots celebrate the championship of the league that he is the commissioner of reveals a hypocrisy of the highest order, as the origin of the word identifies with the behavior of someone who is jealous or cowardly.

One who frequently rants and judges on the integrity of others, Roger Goodell is the ultimate hypocrite, adopting the Machiavellian philosophy in his relentless propaganda efforts against the Patriots and Brady that reads, "The mass of mankind accept what seems as what is; nay, are often touched more nearly by appearances than reality".

What Machiavelli meant by that - and how if affects Goodell's decision making process - is that they both knew that it is in human nature to more often choose appearances over reality. Goodell was caught time and again in feeding the public false information that he knew, due to their lazy habit of making judgements based on sensational headlines and little else, would cause their perception to side against the Brady.

But he underestimated the angst of the New England fans. He misunderstood their capacity to read and absorb legalese, and misread their allegiance and faithfulness to their team and quarterback. He trampled on their character just as he did Brady's. He felt them to be as ignorant and as judgemental as he figured the fanbase of the other 31 franchises to be.

In other words, he was counting on the laziness of humans and their penchant for believing what supposedly smart people told them to spread his vulgar tripe. He was counting on our combined ignorance, our combined stupidity.

He participated in what amounts to a post hoc fabrication in order to take down the team and Brady, taking a position with them, looking for evidence to support his position, finding some behaviors in which he could manipulate to seem reasonable of someone who would cheat, then when forced to present that evidence in a venue where he wasn't in control of the outcome, simply fell back on his broad power as the commissioner and dared the Federal courts to test that power.

They did, and stomped Goodell like a roach.

But all that did was make Goodell bitter to the point that he has announced that he will eschew his duty and obligation to the National Football League and it's 32 franchises to oversee the coronation of the defending champion. In February, he handed the Lombardi Trophy off to Robert Kraft and did a not-so-inconspicuous Claude Raines, disappearing into the thin Arizona air...

...and now he plans to let the start of the NFL season - which will end in it's golden anniversary Super Bowl - without being present to congratulate the team and wish them well in their defense.

Instead he will be at a yet-to-be-named venue on Sunday, probably in Dallas on Sunday night where he can tailgate with his buddies John Mara and Jerry Jones, watch their teams battle from Jones' suite then visit each locker room to distribute participation trophies to each player - then traveling to each NFL city during the course of the season to do the same, with a special ceremony in Indianapolis to admire and promote the Colts' AFC Runner up banner.

Because that's what Goodell side-stepping his responsibility as commissioner has reduced the National Football League to, a parity-driven pee wee organization where there are no winners, nor any losers, just a bunch of guys that tried real hard.

It's not like the capacity crowd expected to be present at Gillette Stadium cares whether the commissioner will be present or not, but they should. It could have been a turning point in the team's relationship with the league's management, a chance for the crowd to get the albatross from around their collective neck and put this entire debacle in their rearview mirrors...

Because closure is important, and Goodell cowering to another venue on opening night is disrespectful both to the Patriots and to their fans, who deserve better than being tossed aside by the cowardly commissioner like yesterday's trash.

Would he be sneered at, berated and generally treated like a fresh dog steamer? Absolutely. But since when has a little negativity ever stopped the tyrants of the world? Most of them revel in the fact that people hate them, stand on a soapbox and gloat over their jeers, taking it all in as sort of a back-handed confirmation of their greatness...

...but not Goodell who, according to reports just surfacing, becomes incensed at people disagreeing with him, turning beet red and storming out of the room like a jilted child.

The Patriots and their fans deserve the chance to get this albatross off of their backs, and Goodell standing them up on Thursday night denies them the opportunity - but also tosses a few more logs on the fire that motivates them both, a fire that naturally burns in the souls of champions when defending a title - a fire that will only be squelched by raising another trophy.

It's not as if the Patriots aren't motivated as it is, and it's not as if Goodell's presence is required for them to raise their latest championship banner, but his dismissive actions are insulting to the team and their fan base - a team that he has shown an utter contempt for and a fan base that, in his narcissistic view, were beneath the level of intelligence required to understand his legal arguments.

But regardless of how any of them feel about how Goodell has treated them, the commissioner skipping the ceremony to unfurl the banner of the league champions is the ultimate insult, and the only victory Goodell can expect in his near future - that is, until has has to present another Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots this coming February...

...and then, if he wishes, the participation trophies to all the other teams.


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