"God Have Mercy on the Man Who Doubts What He's Sure Of..." - Bruce Springsteen
There's a lot going on in Boston during these long, dark days of January.
On the local crime blotter, one of the two morons who took it upon themselves to set off a couple homemade bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon is standing trial for his senseless but still alleged crimes which killed three and injured at least 264. Out in the Fall River area, a former NFL tight end named Aaron Hernandez is on trial for allegedly orchestrating a homicide. Meanwhile, on the international sports scene, Boston was recently chosen by the United States Olympic Committee to put forth a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, an idea that sounded preposterous just months ago but just might land "The Games" in the Hub, whether it be nine or 13 years in the future.
Yet, the lead story on the local and national nightly news last week was focusing on the pounds per square inch of pressure not properly pumped in or brazenly removed from a dozen footballs used in the AFC Championship game, one of the NFL's two crown jewel semifinals contests which draw millions of eyeballs to HD, widescreen televisions tuned in to watch some American Football between hours of commercial ads for beer, car insurance and hero sandwiches. The attention was largely focused on Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, and Tom Brady, the prince-like veteran quarterback of the team, each who were forced in front of hot lights and microphones to face the music from a legion of news reporters, most of whom would prefer to be asking questions about Super Bowl preparation rather than challenging the credibility of the two men and their so-called model franchise, once caught cheating and spying on their opponent.
While all the hell-a-ballou was taking place, there were frequent references to an NFL investigation and the Patriots' full cooperation to aide that investigation. There were dozens of questions and, mostly, non-answers to those questions. There were reports, stated as fact, that the NFL found 11 of 12 game footballs to be under-inflated after being re-inspected during halftime of the game, which might have been made obvious when the third quarter was delayed as the referees scrambled to swap in a regulation ball into Brady's mitts.
Four days later, the bumbling security unit of the NFL, proven to be grossly incompetent in their investigation of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case earlier this season, was exposed again when Brady let it slip during his media interrogation that the NFL had yet to even contact him in regard to the Patriots' role in possibly dodging fair play, morality, if not merely the basic rules of the game. Stunningly, the NFL waited until Friday to issue a statement which intended to quell the growing public and media scrutiny of their product.
It all became sports talk radio nirvana and the insular New England faithful, once again, took an "Us Against the World" underdog approach. Understandably, they backed up their coach and quarterback, who, to the rest of the ESPN-watching world, seemingly walked away from the podium with their pants on fire.
Most notably, NFL quarterback turned sportscaster Mark Brunell was damn-near reduced to tears in the aftermath of emotion.
Tears. Yes, tears of emotion, frustration, sadness, disappointment or distrust welled in Brunell's fiery eyes as his normally strong and sure voice cracked under the pressure of the tv lights. Similarly, the strong, assured and somewhat playful voice of Brady quivered at the start of his impromptu press availability which came after he had spoken to his teammates, and soon after he compared notes with his coach and public relations people. Later, Brady would be criticized by legions of fans, media, social media users and fellow players who noted the QB's mild and meek defense in his trial of public opinion. That public opinion sought a sincere explanation, or someone who might have the guts to own the issue of the day rather than kick the ball down the road with no answers and, as Belichick so frequently put it, "No explanation for the situation."
Surely, a man accused of brazenly breaking the rules of the game, someone accused of cheating, someone having his character and his credibility questioned to the highest degree in sports would've taken a more aggressive approach at the press conferences -- totally denying and unequivocally stating to have no role in tampered with the game balls at anytime in the pregame or actual game time during Sunday's AFC Championship. Instead, both Belichick and Brady parsed their words, wavered under pressure and showed no signs -- verbally or body language -- to defending their professional reputations.
The DeflateGate story dominated the news this week, from the late night Sunday sports shows to Monday morning sports radio all the way to the aftermath of the ill-conceived press sessions with two men choosing their words ever so carefully, but not under oath. Sadly, the world paid more attention to the pounds of pressure in a football rather than the much more important stories resulting from alleged acts of terrorism and murder.
In case you missed it, last week a man by the name of Stephen D. Pasceri walked into Brigham and Women's Hospital and sought out Dr. Michael J. Davidson, a skilled surgeon in the cardiovascular unit of one of the best hospitals in the world. Pasceri, distraught over the recent death of his mother, sought answers to questions about his mother's treatment and medication regiment, diagnosed in the 1980s as severe emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Not satisfied with the answers, Pasceri brandished a concealed firearm he owned and fired three fatal shots, two into Dr. Davidson and one for himself.
Whether it be two men awkwardly defending their professional credibility, a senseless criminal act in the name of jihad, a selfish athlete of entitlement apparently thinking he had authority over the basic human right to live, or a deranged and delusional son seeking his own warped justice for the inevitable death of his mother, it's painfully obvious we must rearrange our priorities and values.
And, we better do it before the big game is over.