To His Recent Movies, Clooney Has Been Injurious George

George Clooney turns 55 years old today. So, while today is brought to you by the number five, next Friday, as it relates to the salt and peppered one, could be brought to you by the number four. And that wouldn’t be a good thing for the birthday boy.

A week from today, Money Monster opens in theaters. If it underwhelms and underperforms, it’ll mark four straight disappointments for Clooney. I’d say it’d make four outright flops, but I really don’t feel like arguing with Coen Brothers connoisseurs who are going to sell me on the successes of Hail, Caesar!

Four misfires in a row would get most actors and directors thrown in the proverbial movie jail, and while that likely won’t happen to Clooney, it wouldn’t look good.

On the surface, Money Monster has a lot of promise. It’s top-lined by Clooney and Julia Roberts, with Jodie Foster directing. That would have been a dream team in 2001, and though each has lost a few miles off their fastball, it’s still a triumvirate to be taken seriously.

And yet, watching the trailer and seeing all the advertisements, the movie looks like a complete joke. I haven’t seen box office tracking or any reviews, and as of this writing, there’s nothing on Rotten Tomatoes.

If mercilessly mocking the trailer means I’ll look foolish if the movie overperforms, well, it’s worth it. Have you seen this thing? Go watch it. I’ll wait.

Okay. First off, I assume this is not a parody. For the movie’s sake, that doesn’t appear to be a good thing. It’s like a melding of Dog Day Afternoon and Network, the only difference being those movies were intended to be ridiculous. Clooney’s character Lee Gates is a ball busting, risk taking alpha male, not Howard Beale. Let’s just say Sidney Lumet probably would have passed on this.

The trailer indicates that Gates begins the movie as some combination of Jim Cramer and Lloyd Blankfein, and just over an hour later is transformed into a combination of Bernie Sanders and some smelly vagrant in Zuccotti Park. I guess when you’re strapped to a bomb like Gates, anything’s possible, right? Again, if it were a parody, maybe. But this movie seems to take itself very seriously, brooding Springsteen ballad and all.

Let’s give the trailer a breather and go to the movie poster, which reads, “Not Every Conspiracy is a Theory”. What the hell does that even mean? I’ve spent three days trying to figure out if it’s even a logical sentence. Unless Gates and the gunman end up exposing some international assassination conspiracy—which might not be bad because then it’d definitely be a parody—that’s kind of an obnoxious tagline. For a movie that seems hell bent on exposing the elitists who trivialize the fortunes of average people, a self-indulgent slogan like that is pretty elitist in its own right. I guess they needed something a tad subtler than the runner up choice, “This movie is important, goddammit!”

And then we come to the lovely Ms. Roberts, who, when told that this whole financial hostage mish-mash is a “delicate situation,” replies that she’s in close proximity to a bomb, so, “don’t talk to me about delicate situations!” Whew, powerful stuff.

So yeah, this movie feels like a farce and looks dreadful. What’s more, it’s about five years too late. Sure, trashing Wall Street is in vogue thanks in part to the aforementioned Senator from Vermont, but there have been similar movies made that were actually good.

HBO’s Too Big to Fail came out five years ago this month, and told the story of the 2008 financial disaster with gravitas and tact. Hell, even Paul Giamatti kept his scenery chewing to a minimum, something that can’t be said for Clooney in MM. Another film on the same topic, Margin Call, was released in the U.S. five years ago this fall. Like Too Big to Fail, it told the story without bombast and derived its drama from swift dialogue, deft performances, and above all, authenticity. MM is some homeless-looking guy with a gun, dragging a bomb-outfitted Clooney around like a rag doll as they solve the world’s financial problems in real time. Compare that to what Margin Call pulled off as a real time story, and it’s laughable.

The only bright spot for the MM trailer is that it harkens to Inside Man, with the NYPD swarming around a vigilante trying to uncover a conspiracy perpetrated by immoral bankers. Inside Man is a thoroughly entertaining and well made film that coincidentally also involves Jodie Foster and is sort of the best case scenario for what MM could turn out to be. Maybe Clooney and Jack O’Connell will conjure the Inside Man magic of Denzel and Clive Owen. I’m not confident, but let’s hope.

Back to George and what he’s doing. At 55, he’s very likely set for life financially. He recently got married. He can do whatever he wants, including act in crappy movies. It’s tough to blame him for his recent choices, they just haven’t worked out. I can’t knock the guy for taking the chance to direct Damon, Goodman, and Murray in The Monuments Men. I can’t fault him for teaming with Brad Bird and Disney on Tomorrowland. And I can’t blame him for going back to the well with the Coen Brothers, with whom Clooney has had great success in the past. Maybe it’s George, maybe it’s something else, but for whatever reason, he’s had three lackluster showings in a row and needs to turn it around.

I’m no talent manager and Clooney sure as hell doesn’t need my advice, but here it goes. He shouldn’t give up directing, he should just take on smaller projects. I don’t doubt the guy can tell a story, he just needs to reign in the material and the scale. It looks like he may be doing just that in Suburbicon, a movie he’s directing from a Coen Brothers script that, according to loglines, is about humanity, mystery, revenge, and betrayal in a small town. Big themes, small scale. It’s a step in the right direction, and rounding up Matt Damon and Julianne Moore can’t hurt.

Perhaps downsizing could work on the acting side, too. Clooney is a dying breed, one of the few true, old school “movie stars” left on the planet. Doing smaller movies and taking co-starring roles may sound counter-intuitive, but it could work. Hell, it worked in Gravity, which, though it was a big budget studio movie, saw Clooney playing a 1B to Sandra Bullock’s 1A. Perhaps he should take a minor role in the next prestige film he produces, a la Brad Pitt in 12 Years a Slave. And though his most recent ensemble efforts—Caesar and Monuments—didn’t spark, he should stick with them. Again, those choices were both defensible, but he could use an equivalent to what The Big Short was for Pitt.

George Clooney will be fine. Every movie can’t be a winner, and if you do enough of them, there are bound to be a few consecutive clunkers. Despite his recent failures, he should be applauded for taking risks, and should keep taking them. Even if Money Monster tanks, and even if Suburbicon doesn’t land, he’ll still likely be able to get projects made that others simply can’t. He should use that power to keep searching for the next great thing.

It was 29 years ago this week that Clooney guest starred on The Golden Girls as police detective Bobby Hopkins. It’s a classic episode, and Clooney’s Hopkins ends up getting shot by the girls’ neighbors, who are armed and dangerous jewel thieves. Hopkins ended up being okay, as it was only a shot in the arm. Like young Bobby, aging George will be okay, too–his career just needs a shot in the ass.

Schilling Changes Tack, Endorses Bernie

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Ousted yesterday by ESPN, Curt Schilling appears to have changed his ideological tune. The former big league hurler has sent a shock through the sports media landscape by suddenly endorsing Bernie Sanders for president.

Widely known as a staunch Republican, it marks a swift departure for Schilling. That is, if you take the endorsement to heart.

“Yes, I tweeted out that I support Bernie Sanders for president,” said Schilling, who may have an ulterior motive. “Did I mean it? Maybe, maybe not. But look at how everyone’s reacting.”

Schilling, who previously endorsed Republican candidate Ben Carson, may have employed a brilliant stroke of reverse psychology here. It’s taken him over 10 years, but he finally realized that no matter what he says or does when it comes to political and social issues, his opinions are reduced to banal, sensationalist headlines. Now having been fired as a result of such backlash, he’s trying to make it work in his favor.

“Carson’s long gone so I need a new horse. If I endorse Trump or Cruz, the blogs will lazily paint me as a racist and a sexist. But if I endorse Bernie…” Schilling trailed off, allowing himself a smirk. “Well, you tell me what people are saying.”

A sampling of headlines seems to prove his point. They range from “Schilling supports dangerous fringe candidate” to “Schilling wants to end capitalism.” One particularly prosecutorial blog even declared, “Schilling loves Bernie, therefore hates America.” It took losing his job, but Curt Schilling may have figured out how to beat the media at their own game.

“It’s pretty great,” the former World Series MVP remarked. “I do one little thing that’s totally reasonable and people freak out. And these morons actually like Bernie! But they’re so blinded by their thirst to judge me and hating whatever I do, that they actually trashed their own guy!”

Pleased with the results of his ploy, Schilling may take it a step further. In fact, he’s already contemplating where to spread his stink next.

“Maybe I’ll post something in support of violent criminals getting paroled. I can see the headlines now, something snarky and unfunny that people will eat up, like, ‘Schilling wants leniency for murderers, who should clearly be put to death,’” the pitching guru mused. “It took me long enough to grasp, but now that I have, I’m going to use the media’s myopia and irrational hatred towards me to finally do some good.”

Syracuse’s Bubble Should Have Burst

While it’s fun to throw around numbers to make cases for teams who did and didn’t deserve to make the NCAA Tournament, watching the games is always better. Of course, that isn’t easy because there are 351 men’s Division I basketball teams, the same number of cities and towns in Massachusetts. It’s not easy to visit each of those towns, and it isn’t easy to watch every team.

The team I caught the most this season was Syracuse. As an alum, I should be arguing that the Orange were justified in receiving a 10-seed. And yet, not only do I think a 10-seed was too generous, I don’t think Syracuse deserved to make the tournament at all.

The committee clearly drank the ACC Kool-Aid, from slotting two of its teams into 1-seeds right on down to proclaiming Syracuse as one of the 40 best teams. That’s not to take anything away from UNC or UVA, both of whom earned their places, but the deference shown to the ACC is almost as embarrassing as the bracket leaking online during the selection show.

Syracuse, however, owes their tournament berth to the simple fact that they are in the ACC, and not their four-month body of work. You play enough conference games—18 to be exact—and you’re bound to win a couple that make you look good.

For the Orange, there were two games—TWO—out of those 18 where they fought above their weight class. A road win at Duke, and a comfortable home victory over Notre Dame. North Carolina and Pittsburgh both defeated Syracuse twice, with only one of those games being within single digits. They were manhandled by Miami and Louisville, were competitive but unsuccessful at Virginia, and narrowly beat also-rans named Tech, both Georgia and Virginia. Against the top four teams in the conference, Syracuse went 0-5.

And lest we forget, Syracuse lost to Pittsburgh for a third time in the conference tournament. Outside of their matchups, Syracuse had better wins (mostly non-conference) and fewer bad losses. Still, with their profiles being similar, in what world does it make sense that the Orange fell to the Panthers at home, on the road, and at a neutral site…yet both are 10-seeds in the dance? If anything, both should be out on account of their inconsistency.

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The point is, Syracuse had a forgettable season in which they were constantly up and down. Just because they had a couple games where they either got hot or caught their opponent on an off day doesn’t mean they deserve to play on. Their body of work was that of a team which couldn’t challenge superior competition on a regular basis.

They did beat UConn and Texas A&M, and those two days in the Bahamas helped their cause immensely. But UConn is another borderline team, and if we’re talking non-conference, it’s tough to ignore bad losses to allegedly inferior teams like Georgetown and St. John’s.

I watched the games, and I can assure you: Syracuse isn’t good. They make some plays and hit some shots. But their offense is largely unwatchable and their zone defense has lost its luster—and the ability to slow down talented teams. Their play inspires zero confidence and mostly just frustrates fans that want them to wake up.

I don’t know who should have made it in over them, but a school like St. Mary’s is a good place to start. I didn’t watch them once, and still, I feel better about their season than Syracuse’s. They coasted to their regular season conference championship, not losing to anyone who finished outside the top four. They had a weaker schedule, but based on results alone, I’d choose the overall consistency and excellence of St. Mary’s over the peaks and valleys of Syracuse.

Applying this to the 351 cities and towns, I’ve seen Brockton, MA, a hundred times and can tell you it has a couple good parts, but is mostly depressing. I’ve never seen Winchester, MA, but I can tell you that, by and large, it’s a better place to be.

Beyond their existence in the ACC, I’ve heard theories about why Syracuse was selected. It’s a make up call for 2007 and 2008, when the Orange narrowly missed out. Or it could be restitution for the harsh penalties the NCAA has levied against them. The most popular theory is that the committee turned a blind eye to the nine games that coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for, during which Syracuse resembled a local junior varsity squad.

If that last one is true, it’s indefensible. The players were the same, and they essentially took a month off. If the committee can ignore a nine game stretch like it never happened, then why do they bother playing the full season?

Maybe there are too many teams in the field. If the NCAA didn’t have the ludicrous money grab known as the First Four, Syracuse might be where they belong, which is the NIT. Maybe it’s just the cost of doing business in American sports. With the possible exception of Major League Baseball, our sports leagues—yes, even NASCAR—put undeserving entrants in the playoffs every year. In a formula where more teams = more games = more money, the NCAA is sure to have its greedy paws all over it.

The damnedest part is, this being the NCAA Tournament and all, Syracuse could very well beat Dayton. If they do, it still won’t justify their presence. If they beat Michigan State, then we can talk.

Until then, though, let’s not pretend that the committee did a great justice. Instead, let’s acknowledge a maddening team that, similar to a place like Brockton, just isn’t very pleasant to be around.

My First Springsteen Show

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Though I was alone in my apartment, I could feel the rest of the tri-state area bearing down on me as I sat on Ticketmaster, trying to score Springsteen tickets. That was in December, and by the grace of whoever runs the queue in a process where the odds of winning are seemingly the same as the recent $1 billion Powerball drawing, I got three tickets. For the first time, I was going to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

The show was Wednesday, January 27th at Madison Square Garden. I met up with the two friends joining me before hand at Blarney Rock, one of the better pre-MSG event bars in the area. Before big college basketball games, it’s a college basketball crowd. Before Rangers games, it’s a Rangers crowd. Before the Bruce concert, it was a Bruce crowd. The proprietors aren’t stupid—they had some of Bruce’s greatest hits blaring from the ceiling, which is colorfully decorated with logos from schools that belonged to the Big East back when it was the “Big East” and not whatever it is now.

For the stereotyping of the Bruce crowd as blue collar—and that has plenty of merit—there’s a certain faction that is and has always been white collar. One guy we knew there said he heard this was the toughest ticket in town…on Wall Street. For all of Bruce’s lyrics about working on the highway and down on the docks, the guys who wear suits and work in skyscrapers don’t feel excluded.

The members of the Church of Bruce have fun measuring themselves by how many shows they’ve been to, which rare songs they’ve seen live, and where they’ve seen them. It’s not a competition and there’s no pretension. Rather, it’s like a bunch of military guys comparing badges. To have seen Bruce perform “Thundercrack” in New Orleans is akin to earning a Purple Heart for a wound suffered in Pakistan. It also sounds like a bizarre game of Clue.

Even better, any feelings of inadequacy that I felt coming on by virtue of being new to the church were quelled by the overarching wave of excitement and positivity flowing through the pre-show crowd. The good vibes continued as we made our way across the street and into the Garden and took our seats—which were great.

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Not only did we win the Ticketmaster lottery, but we got seats in the first row of our section. Granted, that section was 417, and we were behind the stage, but that didn’t matter. The stage is open, so despite the band members’ backs being to us most of the show, they were still relatively close. The great circle route from our seats to the man himself was much, much shorter than that of fans sitting in the 200-level seats on the other side of the arena. If sitting behind Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best seats for a hockey game, sitting behind Bruce is one of the best seats for a concert. Besides, he and the band have been at it long enough to know to turn around from time to time and work the entire crowd. As my friends—who are approaching double digits in Bruce concerts attended—pointed out, these were the best seats they’d had yet.

Bruce fans love talking about how long he’ll play for and what songs he’s going to do. Springsteen is famous for his tirelessness and showmanship, never one to leave a crowd wanting more. So I knew we were guaranteed about three hours, and anything after that’d be gravy. And that’s another fun element that Bruce has built in over the years: allowing fans to guess how long he’ll play for. Will it be 3:00 exactly? Maybe 3:25? What if he gets near four hours? Again, it’s speculated on without pretension because of sheer optimism and giddiness.

More of a parlor game than guessing show length is pontificating on the set list. Typically, I’d imagine the most thrilling part of any Bruce show is hearing those first chords of each new song and realizing what you’re getting. On this night, and during this tour, he’d be playing The River front to back. I’d call The River Bruce’s “seminal 1980 album,” but damn near all of his albums are seminal, so let’s just call it his 1980 album.

So, we knew what the first 20 songs would be. And judging by the set lists from the first couple stops on the tour, we had an idea what he’d play after The River ran dry. One of my friends had a gut feeling we were getting “Jungleland” (he was wrong). I was pining to hear “Streets of Fire” or “Backstreets” (I’m still pining). So what if we were wrong, because as I learned, the pre-show buzz about what he’ll play is a major part of the service when attending the Church of Bruce.

The River is a strange concert album. It’s got 20 songs, which is a lot for a Bruce album (plus an outtake, “Meet Me in the City”, which opened the show). It doesn’t have any of Bruce’s most famous songs. And it’s not as great as Born to Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town. But it’s still one hell of an album to see live. There are eight slower songs, and the other 12 are all legitimate rock songs, the kind you hope to hear live. And even the ones that are a little slow, some are still excellent live—“Fade Away” and “Drive All Night” in particular. And the title track, while slow-ish, has so much energy and emotion that it’s still riveting. The bathroom break songs ended up being “I Wanna Marry You” and “Wreck on the Highway.”

As for the show itself, some highlights, and more than that, some questions…

–Apparently, Bruce always crowd surfs during “Hungry Heart.” At 66 years old, I’m amazed at how he does it. I know he’s just lying there and doesn’t need to exert himself, but doesn’t being poked and prodded like that take its toll on a guy that age? Who knows, maybe it’s a nice respite for him from being on stage. And given the crowd’s level of fandom, aren’t there some out there who may be taking a less than appropriate grab? I wonder if he’ll ever cut out that crowd surfing bit, but it’s to the point where the audience expects it and would be let down if he didn’t. Okay, so they’d understand if he stopped at some point, but 45 years of performing have established certain standards that Bruce seems hell bent on maintaining.

–Each band member is more impressive than the last. Many have been playing together for 40 years, and some have had such interesting side gigs, they’ve become known for those as much as being in the band. Nils Lofgren had a successful solo career and played with musicians like Neil Young before joining E Street. Max Weinberg was the drummer and bandleader on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show for 17 years. Steven Van Zandt played Tony Soprano’s closest confidant for the duration of “The Sopranos” and then went on to have a lesser known but well regarded series called “Lilyhammer” on Netflix. Somewhere in all this, they managed to continue making music and touring.

–Not to harp on their ages, but, seriously, how are these guys still doing this? When a snowstorm hits, all we hear about on the news is men having heart attacks while shoveling. These guys are ramping their heart rates up to unsustainable levels for three hours and it looks effortless. Bruce must be on an Olympic-style training regimen. Weinberg, a man in his mid-60s who looks like he should be eating kippers at Flakowitz of Boynton Beach, sits at a drum set for three hours without going to the bathroom or even standing up. No member of the band seemed to take a song off, and even if they had the chance, I don’t think they wanted to.

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–Some songs that stood out: “I’m a Rocker,” “Out in the Street,” “Sherry Darling,” and “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch).”

–Van Zandt has to be one of the coolest dudes out there. The band. The TV show. The instrument. Even the bandannas, though it’d be nice if he could wrangle his Silvio hair once in a while. He takes it upon himself to work the crowd more than anyone else, maybe even Bruce.

–These guys switch guitars after what seemed like every song. Did Bruce actually use 20 different guitars? Or were there just two that he’d rotate and have tuned in between?

–The first two shows of the tour both had post-River sets and then an encore after that. Our show was different in that those two elements were combined, meaning the band never left the stage. They turned on the lights for “Born to Run,” which I’m told is standard practice. That followed with “Dancing in the Dark” (made ironic by the aforementioned illumination), “Rosalita,” and “Shout.”

–How many times has Bruce played “Born to Run” for an audience? 3,000? 4,000? It’s unfathomable.

–I’m sure there have been some incidents on stage when fans are brought up during “Dancing in the Dark,” but it’s fortunate that nothing too crazy has happened. At Wednesday’s show, Bruce invited a fan toting a “This Aussie is Batty for Patti” sign on stage to dance with the lovely Ms. Scialfa. Bruce had a couple fans doing the requisite dance moves with him. While each dance went on just a little too long for the artists’ comfort, the fans know to not go further than a hug and maybe, maybe a tiny peck on the cheek.

–When the dancing portions of the song take over, Jake Clemons steps up with his saxophone and carries the song for a good 2-3 minutes. My ear isn’t in tune enough to decipher a good sax player from a great one, but if I’m betting the farm, put me down for Jake Clemons being a great one.

Of all the questions that will go unanswered, I was able to answer arguably the most important one. It didn’t take until after the show. It didn’t take until Bruce went crowd surfing. During the first couple songs, it became clear why these guys still do this. Why they still tour the world, keep their skills sharp, and play for hours on end like maniacs.

They love each other, the crowd, and the music. It’s genuinely fun for them. For most people, playing once a week for an hour sounds fun. Playing three or four times a week, for three or four hours each time, sounds like work. But for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, it’s fun. Maybe it’s even therapeutic for them. Some of it may be ego, sure. It’s not that tough to play to a crowd who loves you unconditionally. But there’s a certain element of pride, honor, and not letting those fans down. It’s that hyper self-awareness that sets Bruce and the band apart from other musical acts. They play the hits. They play the rarities. They play for the crowd.

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It becomes clear when you see Van Zandt and Bruce standing at the microphone together, shouting their beloved songs in unison. As I wondered how many quarts of spit these guys have swapped during these vocal exchanges through the decades, it struck me that these guys love each other. How else do you explain doing this stuff for so long?

As for me, yeah, I freaking loved the show, all 3:10 of it. And I want to go to another one at some point, though who knows how many more tours Bruce and the band have left.

In 1974, rock critic and future Springsteen manager-producer Jon Landau proclaimed, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Well, Bruce is a little too old now to still be the future, but I’ll eat Nils Lofgren’s top hat if Bruce still isn’t the present.

NFL’s Black Monday: Owners Just Don’t Understand

The NFL’s “Black Monday” came and went, and we still have no idea what many of these franchises are doing. Teams can’t figure out whether to fire or retain their coaches (or GMs), and they seem to be as wrong as they’ve ever been. There are a slew of clueless coaches and executives, but they look like Bill Walsh compared to some of their owners.

I’m not exactly an employee of Korn Ferry, but I know enough to tell you that making Mike flipping McCoy the face of the NFL in Los Angeles isn’t going to work out so well. McCoy has proven from the get go that he’s a lightweight. He’s a run of the mill, conventional coach with nothing in the way of imagination, motivation, or any semblance of a thinking man’s mentality.

In the two years since his team made the playoffs after embarrassingly needing overtime at home to beat a Chase Daniel-led Chiefs team sitting 20 of 22 starters in Week 17, McCoy’s Chargers have floundered and just limped to a 4-12 season after starting 2-2. They lost three straight games to the Raiders, Ravens, and Bears. McCoy needed to go two years ago, but nope, he’s back, as his owner files for relocation. Tom Telesco, McCoy’s personnel partner-in-incompetence, will also return. Something for Angelenos to look forward to.

Still wondering what the hell Korn Ferry is? It’s the search firm that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has hired to help find a new coach. Haslam must not realize he’s an NFL owner and alleged businessman. Businessmen in the business of football should have enough, you know, football people around them to make a decision. Did the Academy Awards need a headhunter to find Chris Rock to host this year? No, they just picked one of the funniest people and performers on the planet. If Haslam needs Korn Ferry to tell him to approach guys like Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, and David Shaw, then he shouldn’t own a team.

Tom Coughlin’s resignation/unspoken firing makes sense. He’s old, he’s tired, and he’s accomplished a lot. Good for Tom, and that Giants job, given their organizational/QB stability and erratic division, is a prime one for coaching candidates.

People say the game has passed Coughlin by. He can’t keep up with the demand. Can’t hang with young players. Not entirely fair, but maybe some truth there. If so, it is fair to ask what the hell the Dolphins are doing by bringing back 63-year old Mike Shanahan for a second interview.

Shanahan flamed out in spectacular fashion in Washington and felt older in his final season there than Coughlin ever did in New York. The only explanation is that Stephen Ross is so impressed with Shanahan’s disciplining and eventual jettisoning of Albert Haynesworth that Ross is hoping Shanahan can work that same magic to rid Ross of his own $100-million defensive line dud. Best wishes, Stephen. You (and your ace personnel man Mike Tannenbaum) will always have these meaningless home wins over the Patriots to get you through the night.

Jim Tomsula was relieved by the 49ers, which is good, because now Tomsula can finally relieve himself, which is what it looked like he was in need of on the sideline during every game this season. Remember near the end of Apollo 13 when Tom Hanks explains in voiceover that the mission was failed before he was even hired because of faulty mechanics? That’s what happened to Tomsula in San Francisco this year. He’s probably not a Super Bowl caliber coach, but we won’t know, because he was set up for failure.

The 49ers couldn’t make it work with one of the three to five best coaches in the league and in the process, poisoned their franchise. They were crushed by injury, retirement, and vanishing mojo, none of which is really Tomsula’s fault. Jeddy York and Trent Baalke will try again, this time with a team in complete tatters. But hey, good on you Trent, for winning the power struggle with the coach that made you look like a genius. It’s working out well for you.

And of course, there’s the Indianapolis Colts. On the short list of most loathsome franchises in football, the Colts got their comeuppance this year in the form of missing the playoffs in what may be the worst division in league history, at least since the league expanded to 32 teams (you could argue 2010 NFC West or even 2014 NFC South). Yes, Andrew Luck got hurt, I’m well aware, thank you Colts honks. But the team stinks. Luck is very good, but the TEAM stinks.

This is the fault of Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay. Not as much coach Chuck Pagano, who’s seemingly competent but will only go as far as Luck takes him. Grigson is simply one of the worst GMs in the league. Richardson. Werner. Nicks. Andre. Gore. Dorsett. The hits keep on coming.

Monday night, Irsay announced that both Pagano and Grigson—who many apparently within the organization and around the league expected to be fired—had signed extensions. For fans of the other three AFC South teams, dancing in the streets is appropriate. Pagano declared it the best day of his life, which must make his kids—not to mention his chemo doctor—feel pretty crappy. And Grigson probably grunted and snorted the entire time like the meathead he is.

There’s something to be said for continuity and giving your coaches and execs a chance to make the team their own. Bill Belichick spoke at length last week about program-building, and Tom E. Curran had a wonderful column musing that the “Next Belichick” may not exist because owners are trigger-happy and overly focused on short term results.

Curran nailed it, and it’s true that guys like Coughlin, Belichick, and even Shanahan back in Denver, needed time and patience to figure it out. So, good on Irsay for doing the right thing. Unfortunately for fans of Indy, he’s just doing it with the wrong guys.

Breer or Rapoport: Who Gonna Be the Follow Guy?

Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport are both NFL Network reporters with Boston roots. They both appear to be in their mid-30s. They perform similar functions for their employer and neither seems to get caught up in much controversy.

My Twitter feed is nothing special, and my time really isn’t any more valuable than the next guy furiously loading four hours worth of tweets before descending into the internet-less depths of the subway.

Still, why do I follow both Breer and Rapoport, aka RapSheet? They file the same vanilla training camp reports with information that true fans of said team would procure through local beat writers anyway. They tweet the same stories with the same reactions. On June 15, when the Bills Twitter account announced how fast tickets were selling, within seconds of each other, both Breer and Rapoport retweeted the story and added in “Rex Effect.” I need to thank them for clearing that up, because until the Bills announced he’d be backing up Tyrod Taylor, I would have sworn it was the Matt Cassel Effect.

Breer and Rapoport are, Twitterly speaking, the same person.

But are they really? If you look hard enough, or if they tweet enough (which they do), there are some contrasts. Are these variances striking enough to differentiate the two and choose to follow the winner? Or, if there are noticeable differences, does that mean it makes sense to continue following both? Let’s take a look…

TWITTER BIO / AVATAR / COVER PHOTO

Breer: Straightforward bio, states his job, past places of employment and schooling, and, interestingly, threw in 98.5 The Sports Hub. Breer has recurring gigs with 98.5’s morning and midday shows, not to mention Pats pregame duties for the station. That’s all wonderful, but this is a completely biased examination, and 93.7 WEEI is the station of choice in this space. His cover photo is an awesome shot of Boston, which earns him some points. His avatar seems to be from an appearance on CSN New England. Funny, I just checked the CSNNE website and saw a clip of Gary Tanguay announcing, “Bert is stating the obvious” in regards to a Breer tweet. Not sure what’s worse, Breer being called out by Tanguay, or me sharing a thought with Tanguay.

Breer

Rapoport: Job description in his bio, but no mention of past employment or schooling. Shouts out his wife’s Twitter handle (@TheBanktress, a boss name even if I have no clue what it means) and tosses in “collector of Pez.” Quirks like a Pez collection are what we’re looking for. Cover photo is Ian with the always-funny and seemingly likable Rich Eisen. It’s not quite a beautiful night shot of Boston, but it’s okay. His avatar pic is notorious because it’s a standard NFLN headshot that’s been lifted for dozens of parody accounts. It was used for the account that tricked Peter King into a retweet during free agency back in March. Enabling wise asses is a good thing, but c’mon Ian, give us something with some color.

Edge: Push

Rapoport

FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNTS

We basically just covered this. Are there any well known Breer fakes? If there are, did any sucker Peter King into looking like a schmuck for a few frantic minutes during free agency?

Edge: Rapoport

WIKIPEDIA PAGES

Both are three sentences featuring their alma maters and their professions. Breer’s has more about his employment history, but that’s probably info gleaned from his Twitter bio, which, as we’ve covered, contains more of that stuff than Rap’s.

Edge: Who cares?

LOCATION

Breer: Even though he’s gone national, he’s still a Boston guy. I believe he’s from MA and want to say I’ve seen him tweet about living in the South End, but maybe I hallucinated that. Regardless, cool that he still lives local, does local radio spots, and appears on local TV shows. Sure, he still spits company lines and is petrified to take a stance on DeflateGate, but he gets points.

Rapoport: His tweeting, and his wife’s Twitter bio, suggests a recent move to NYC from Texas, so kudos to them and welcome. I have no idea where Rap is from, but he’s a Mets fan and apparently went to Columbia, so he belongs in New York.

Edge: I’m from Boston. I live in New York. I think they’re the two greatest cities in America. But Breer’s shown more love to the region and is a local, giving him a slight edge.

FAMILY LIFE

Breer: I think he’s married, but don’t know much else.

Rapoport: His wife seems lovely and her Twitter bio claims she manages a Starbucks, which is great, except this space prefers Dunkin Donuts. So, unless Mrs. Rap is joking about the Starbucks thing, that hurts, because in an exercise as futile as this, inane details matter. The Rapoports tweet about their two young kids, and they do seem to have a nice little family.

Also, is Rapoport Jewish? I feel like he is, and the fact that he’s now a Mets fan living in New York kind of seals it. I’ll have to show his picture to my mother and ask her.

Edge: Can’t fault Breer for not publicizing his personal life, but we’ll give Rapoport and his family man image the nod.

ALMA MATER

Breer: THE Ohio State University, home to some of the smuggest fans in all of college football. They employ Urban Meyer, a terrific yet disingenuous coach who probably swept a thing or two under the rug, legally speaking, during his tenure at Florida.

Rapoport: According to Wikipedia, he attended Columbia. I’d venture to guess there are some smug people at Columbia, but the kind of smugness that’s actually warranted.

Edge: Rap

DEFLATEGATE HANDLING

Breer: Short of holding up an “In Rog We Trust” sign on television, he’s done everything possible to make it clear that he doesn’t think Brady is innocent. He won’t come out and say he thinks Brady’s guilty of anything, just playing it right down the middle, zero opinion, exactly the way the NFL Network probably likes it. It’s bad enough he appears on a Boston radio station that’s unabashedly anti-Patriots and anti-Brady, it’s worse that he’s uber-sensitive when the subject is broached.

August 31, Breer tweets “Biggest stumbling block remained largely the same thru every set of Brady settlement talks – Admission of guilt/acceptance of Wells Report.” Groundbreaking, I know. So one of his followers harmlessly tweets “why should he admit to something he stated clearly under oath he had nothing to do with and no knowledge of?” Fair question, to which anyone with knowledge of, and the slightest whiff of an opinion on the situation would say, “Agreed, he shouldn’t.” A simple answer that wouldn’t get him in trouble with his bosses but also prove that Breer understands what’s really going on. Instead, Breer runs for the hills, replying “I’m not saying he should’ve/shouldn’t have … Just telling you what the issue was.” Gee Bert, with that kind of edgy take, New Englanders will be sprinting to their TVs to watch CSNNE later!

I get it, he’s a “reporter,” here to report facts and information without slant. It’s somewhat paradoxical: He’s a local guy so he’s really in tune with the scene…but his current job prohibits him from adding any legitimate points about the local team. Oh, and after that rousing exchange on August 31, he linked to a story by…

Rapoport: …which is why we’re doing this exercise, because it’s really like following two for the information intake of one. Perhaps I unfairly held Breer to a higher standard because being native to Boston, he should know better. Knowing it’s not his turf, Rap has stayed out of the mess, but not in the “You won’t get me to say Brady’s innocent so don’t even think it!” way that Breer has. Rapoport usually just retweets other reporters and doesn’t even pretend to get involved.

However, he did get involved in a large way on Super Bowl weekend. He crushed Chris Mortensen’s incendiary and utterly false report, announcing that 11 of the 12 Patriot footballs from the first half were under 12.5 psi, but many were “just a few ticks under the minimum.” Kudos to Rapoport for reporting what turned out to be the truth. Of course, trolls and those with agendas had already taken the Mortensen story as gospel and Rapoport’s story never got much traction…despite being as accurate as any story on the subject to that point. I guess the memo never made it from Dave Gardi to Mike Kensil to Goodell to the guy who oversees RapSheet that they had already spread fake measurements and those were the ones to run with. Hell, after that story, I’m surprised Goodell didn’t have Rapoport deported.

Edge: Rapoport in a walk.

CREATIVITY / PERSONALITY

I’ve dug up some tweets for this examination, but I don’t have all day. So, without getting into detail, let’s note that both guys, for the most part, have a sense of humor. They’ll parry combative tweeps with emojis or quick bits of sarcasm. They’ll cross over into other sports, whether it’s Breer slurping his Buckeyes or Rapoport rediscovering his Mets amidst their Cespedes-infused pennant race. Even better, they don’t take themselves too seriously and usually have either witty or self-deprecating retorts for the Twitter tough guys clamoring that they “Stick to football!” For the record, tweeting “Stick to football!” is about as funny and imaginative as yelling “Get in the hole” at a PGA event.

Both also engage in fun banter with fellow football writers. It’s not unusual to see Breer have a spirited back and forth with his occasional CSNNE comrade Tom E. Curran, or to see Rapoport get into it with his Boston Herald progeny Jeff Howe. Yeah, Breer and Rap may vacillate between regular dude and league suit, but when they’re not doing the league’s bidding, they seem like cool guys to grab a beer with.

REPORTING STYLE

Breer: He’s less about scoops and more about reporting on various processes and how situations are playing out. He breaks some news, and is often quick to retweet others regarding a signing, a suspension, etc. But rather than being on the pulse of free agency, or nabbing a tidbit that no other reporter could snag, you’ll see Breer filing reports from Redskins training camp with a six-tweet explanation about their quarterback situation. Same thing goes with DeflateGate. He wouldn’t take much of a stance, but would explain the nuts and bolts. He’s an information guy, even though that information isn’t necessarily exclusive.

Rapoport: He’s more of a story-breaker. He had the news about Eli wanting to be the highest paid quarterback in the league. He had the aforementioned, more accurate of the football PSI reports. The news breaker in our duo, he’ll hit everything from a few higher profile stories per year to hundreds of minor stories, whether it’s a marginal free agent signing during the preseason, how long an injury will keep someone out, or how far apart two sides are on a contract extension. He’ll get into the stuff Breer specializes in, but more in the way of retweets or even directing readers to Breer himself (something Breer does too, as we’ve covered).

Edge: Both guys do what the NFL Net dispatches them to do and seem to do it well enough, so who the hell am I to pretend to be a media critic?

MISCELLANEOUS

Breer: Called ESPN reporter Tim McMahon “Assface!” a few years back on Twitter. There’s a good chance the tweet was in jest, but still, friskiness and politically incorrect language—even when joking—get points here.

With this evidence of Breer being a clown at heart, it makes us wish that maybe he’d take the gloves off more often. And Google Images suggests that before he went with his current borderline faux-hawk, he had longer hair and was just an Ohio State bro trying to talk some pigskin.

Rapoport: Speaking of bros, RapSheet is probably still trying to clarify that the bro from the Bud Light Super Bowl ad was not him, but a different guy with the same name, and, apparently, a much, much lower IQ.

There’s also the video of Rapoport filing a report from a team’s practice and taking a football to the head in the middle of his report. Like a pro, he shakes it off and does his job with aplomb.

Edge: Again, when they’re not taking the high road, these are guys you’d want to spend a Sunday afternoon with.

DECISION

Both of these guys generally stay above the fray, so why shouldn’t I? Rapoport took the slight advantage in the breakdown, but Breer’s penchant for sarcasm is a great equalizer. Plus, as we covered in the “Reporting” section, there are some inherent differences. Yes, they can be league flunkies at times, but compared to others (Mortensen and King), they’re much more down to earth. Football season is here, fantasy football season is here, and Twitter is a great tool for killing time and learning a thing or two. Breer and Rap have both proven to be worthy parts of the experience, so, congrats to them, I guess, for both remaining on the timeline for the 2015 NFL season.

What a Triple Crown Would Mean for Most of America

American Pharoah is the odds on favorite to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, and would thus win the Triple Crown.

If he does, it’ll be interesting to see if people stop caring about the sport as much, akin to the fear that Boston fans would have no purpose once the Red Sox ended “The Curse.” The feeling here is that it will mirror what happened with the Red Sox, in a similarly positive fashion: Followers will want to see it again because it’s fun to root for and the preferred outcome, but failures won’t be received with the same overwrought air of desperation and letdown.

Generations of racing fans—mostly casual, but still—would witness something they’ve only heard about and seen on grainy videotape. By and large, we won’t know how to react. Seeing people, who’ve never watched horse racing more than three days in any given year, going crazy high-fiving, celebrating, and lying to their bros about hitting a trifecta would be hilariously awkward.

It’s been mildly disappointing when beloved horses like Funny Cide and Smarty Jones fall short. Does that mean when it happens, we’re headed for mild jubilation?

American Pharoah

As sports fans, we root for events and stories, so the unwritten code tells us to always pull for a horse going for the final jewel. The thing that makes horse racing different is there’s no attachment. If American Pharoah wins, few will follow the remainder of his career or check up on the foals he’ll inevitably sire for a half million a pop. But we’ll gleefully spill beer on ourselves when it happens and someday tell our grandkids we watched it…at a bar in New York City…even though tickets were available for $25 and the race was run about 20 miles away…but who cares, it was awesome and we saw it!

If he wins, will we care even remotely as much the next time a horse takes the first two legs? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. That’s not to diminish the sport, but more to reinforce our commitment to its fleeting nature and our interest being piqued as long as you’re selling a great horse with a story behind it.

We’ll continue to talk ourselves into the most exciting two minutes in sports, and by law then have to watch the Preakness to see if we need to carve out the mental capacity to care for three more weeks. It’s a race. It generates bundles in gambling. It’s quick enough to come and go without the nation’s attention span fading like War Emblem or California Chrome down the stretch. It doesn’t matter if American Pharoah wins—we’ll keep coming back for more, a few Saturdays a year at a time. If he does win, next time we’ll want a better horse, one who runs faster times, wins by bigger margins, and has an even better story.

The most certain thing about the Belmont is that no one has any true idea if American Pharoah will win. He vanquished the two Derby runners up in the Preakness, and will now face three other horses that ran top seven in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. As Steve Coburn incoherently reminded us last year, when horses denied glory in the Derby skip the Preakness to spoil the Belmont, it makes a helluva time for the horse going for the treble. That’s partly why we haven’t seen it done in so long, and why we’ll all assume it’s so impressive if and when it actually happens.

If American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes, it will have a monumental impact on the sport of thoroughbred racing. As for us? We’ll be the same. Like Jerry Seinfeld once told us, why should we care so much if we’re not even sure the horses care?

Holiday Weekend Weirdo: Manhattan Man Stays in City Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, but it had one young New York City man feeling left out in the cold.

Jason Riemer, 26, spent the holiday weekend by staying in the city—even though everyone else he knows left to go somewhere else.

“I didn’t think sticking around was so taboo,” said Riemer, an accountant. “I figured, there’s always something going on in the city. I was wrong.”

Riemer quickly learned—the hard way—that when everyone you know leaves the city, there isn’t much left to do. Riemer’s loneliness was a result of not planning ahead and thinking he’d get to experience things around the city that he usually doesn’t.

“There are so many things I want to try but there’s always some obligation getting in the way,” Riemer explained. “With three days free, I thought I’d finally get a chance to try some new stuff that I haven’t experienced yet here.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out the way he envisioned.

Riemer lamented, “I miscalculated. I didn’t realize there’d be no one to actually do stuff with. I mean, I’m not gonna just go to Central Park by myself.”

The young man’s friends and family spent the holiday weekend all over the eastern seaboard, enjoying the nice weather, barbecues, and the beach.

“Let’s see…some of my buddies went to Atlantic City, but it’s so crazy expensive for those dumpy hotels and I never responded to their emails when they planned it,” said Riemer. “My family was in Maine but that’s so far away, you know? I don’t have a car and I can’t just like, take a train from Manhattan to Maine.”

With every girl in his circle of friends decamping for the Hamptons, Riemer hoped he’d meet some new ones this weekend. With the city less crowded, he’d surely have opportunities to separate himself from the pack and approach the opposite sex outside of the typically competitive bar and club scene.

“It’s weird, I thought a calmer city would mean more laid back conversation and more relaxed interactions,” Riemer groaned. “But girls thought something was wrong with me! They’re giving me dirty looks like I’m a freak because I didn’t have anywhere to go. I’m like, whatever, they’re still here too! So what does that say about them?”

His failed attempts at romance aside, Riemer did learn the value of being in a relationship, as several of his friends and their girlfriends embarked on weekend getaways to cabins upstate, beach houses along the Atlantic, and cities like Boston and Washington DC.

“I’m realistic. Fourth of July is only six weeks away so there’s obviously not enough time to strike up something meaningful before that,” said Riemer, who’s maintaining cautious optimism. “Maybe Labor Day, though. I think it’s reasonable to meet a girl this summer, and if we get along well, we could go somewhere for Labor Day.”

As his friends flooded back into New York on Monday with superior tales of rest, relaxation, and holiday weekend whimsy, Riemer kept his head held high despite the pervading condescension towards his “stay-cation.”

“Do I wish I went somewhere? Yeah, kind of,” admitted Riemer, who insists he’s at peace with the weekend that was. “But this is still a great city, and it’s really accessible on holiday weekends. The lines at bagel shops were really short, it was easy to get a cab, and the elevators in my building came right away. Sure, it’s a little ghost town-y, but it was kind of nice, and not having to travel made the weekend feel longer.”

No matter how tolerable his weekend in the city was, one has to imagine that Riemer has already started making arrangements for our country’s birthday weekend, as not to be the outcast he was this time around.

For Bob Kraft, It’s Goodell and Owners First, Brady and Fans Last

In announcing today that his team won’t appeal the sanctions imposed by the NFL over the boondoggle known as Deflategate, Robert Kraft bowed down to Roger Goodell. Kraft may see his folding as a way to maintain dignity and preserve his image, when in reality, his actions today only did more harm in those areas, both in New England and across America.

The only way the previous sentence, and everything written below, isn’t true would be if Tom Brady and the Patriots really did break the rules, and to a greater degree than we realize (and if so, why didn’t Ted Wells, Mr. Independent, include that in his findings?).

Kraft is well known as one of the best and most successful owners in sports and one of the real power brokers in the NFL. It’s as if today’s press conference was a way to maintain the latter, while hoping that Patriots fans would forgive the pathetic performance he put on display. Kraft has always come across as a man of integrity, and today he gave in to a man with no integrity in kissing Goodell’s rear end.

The popular thought is that Goodell and Kraft made a deal that will lift Tom Brady’s suspension if Kraft agrees not to pursue an appeal against the team penalties. If true, it’s an embarrassment for Kraft and an indirect indictment of Brady, who takes a hit even if he’s reinstated by virtue of Kraft rolling over.

If Brady’s suspension is rescinded because of whatever may have gone down behind closed doors, it makes Brady look guiltier than ever and gives critics ammunition to claim that Brady, while technically sporting a clean record, probably cheated and got away because his football dad is friends with the football cop. It gives even the staunchest Brady backers doubts, because if Brady and the Patriots are truly blameless, why wouldn’t they fight?

Goodell and the league deliberately targeted their best player in an attempt to damage his character. Why that bogus story about psi that was leaked to Chris Mortensen and ignited the whole debacle? That story was false on every level and never retracted. The NFL lets it sit there for whatever reason, but it’s not a stretch to say the story lives on in an effort to damage Brady. Oh, that’s a stretch? Well, it’s no more a stretch than any conclusion reached in the Wells Report. And by backing down, Kraft allowed the assault on Brady to live on in perpetuity because while the draft picks are separate from Brady’s suspension, they belong to the same alleged wrongdoing.

Kraft-Goodell Hug

Kraft’s dead dog routine today paved the way for more Goodell madness, but hey, as long as Kraft is getting something in return—and how can he not be?—he doesn’t care. Goodell used Kraft, Brady, and the Patriots to restore his image as a hard-nosed man of integrity, which is funny because in doing so he yet again proved that he’s a man of none by pandering to 31 fan bases even though it was cowardly and barely defensible.

Kraft is delusional if he thinks the rest of the country will view him and his team in a better light than it did last week. But again, he probably doesn’t care. He’s more concerned with appeasing his fellow owners, which he did with today’s press conference. Hell, even some sheep in the media are praising Kraft for being the bigger man. Great, you’re the bigger man, Robert. You also allowed your team to be labeled cheaters and tacitly admitted it by not fighting. It’s a disgrace. Unless, of course, they’re actually guilty.

Kraft acted like he owed Goodell and the NFL something. By all accounts, it’s Goodell who owes his career to Kraft. Kraft’s paid his dues as on owner, serves on various committees, funded his own stadium, and really owes nothing to the league. From the start, Kraft has done it the right way. He’s getting older and this should have been his last battle, going out guns blazing. The league just screwed him and his best player for no other reason than they wanted to cover their own asses and look tough to the rest of the world. With Bob Kraft’s actions today, he officially let them win.

As a Patriots fan, it’s hard to find any solace in what happened. I don’t know what Kraft is getting in return, but unless it’s a full apology, retraction of all the spurious claims that have leaked since January, and the punishments dropped, it’s not enough.

Robert Kraft and the Patriots are not a mom and pop shop being pushed out by the big guy. They have the resources to fight. If they feel they’ve done nothing wrong, they have the ability to fight like hell to prove it. It may not play well with the other owners, which is why Kraft demonstrated today that he cares more about appeasing them at all costs. Maybe that’s the lesson we learned today: Kraft’s loyalty isn’t to his fans or to his players’ reputations, but rather, to the commissioner and 31 other owners, a collective that has been twisting the knife in his back for months.

Tom Brady, Tim Robbins, and the Overblown Cover Up

It’s tough not to think about Tim Robbins when I hear Deflategate commenters preach, “The cover up is worse than the crime.”

That’s been the refrain since the Wells Report came out on Wednesday. Those taking issue with Tom Brady are focusing on his behavior since the AFC Championship Game, specifically in his press conference that week. Critics feel that Brady being guilty of intentional deflation is no longer the issue, but rather, Brady allegedly lying about his involvement. The cover up, this is now the issue.

These people are wrong. The issue is, and has always been, the insanity of the story itself and the looming capital punishment for a minor crime.

For the anti-Brady zealots, the words “cover up” are buzzy and make a convenient yet out-of-context case. The cover up was necessary because the crime, which Brady very likely committed, was about to be wildly over-prosecuted.

Anyone currently claiming “Brady should have owned up to it in January” is either forgetting or ignoring that, at the time, the slightest admission of any guilt at all could have meant a suspension from the Super Bowl. For doing something that carries a $25,000 fine. We’re hearing talk of this “cover up” like there was actually a one-week grace period for Brady to come clean with minimal to no repercussion. There was not. Rather, there was rampant suspicion that Brady would be suspended for the Super Bowl if he copped to even a miniscule infraction.

Brady Presser

Let’s say you get a speeding ticket. You were nabbed going 60 in a 55, something everyone does, only the cops chose you because let’s say you’re the best looking guy in town with the best looking wife. It stinks, but you know this is a common, minor offense and you’ll get a $100 ticket.

Except, everyone you know, from lawyer to layman, opines that if you decide to plead guilty, the fine will be $100,000 and you’ll go to jail. When you thought the fine would be $100, you were planning on paying. Now? You’d fight it like hell and lie your ass off to avoid a ludicrous penalty.

There’s no perfect analogy, but I think that one’s close. If Brady covered something up, it’s because he was facing unfair prosecution. Maybe he did cover it up for the hell of it, acting with nefarious intent. Self-awareness was likely the prevailing sentiment, though. He knows who he is, how people live to hate him (yes, that’s live, not love). He knew that an admission in the form of “Everyone else does the same thing and likes the ball as underinflated as possible,” would have given the wolves the ammo they assume they got in the Wells Report.

When will the slippery slope of Brady opinions taper off? In January it was all about the crime. Now it’s all about the cover up, as if the crime was never a big deal to begin with. Soon enough, it will be about something else, and the cover up will be remembered as differently as that final week in January.

* * *

The Tim Robbins thoughts stem from another story about a corrupt investigation surrounding the Boston area: Mystic River. One of the underappreciated movies this century, it features Sean Penn’s Jimmy Markum accusing Robbins’s Dave Boyle of killing Jimmy’s daughter, when both men know deep down that Dave is innocent. Jimmy wants blood from someone, though, and tells Dave, “Admit what you did, and I’ll let you live.”

Spoiler alert: Dave, broken and out of options, gives a forced confession, hoping Jimmy will let him live. Jimmy does not.

The Jimmys of the world can bemoan the cover up all they want, but without it, Brady’s Super Bowl prospects may have been dumped in the Mystic with Dave Boyle.

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