Why this Buffalo Bills fan thinks the New England Patriots are being treated unfairly. (UPDATED)

All the criticisms I’ve read of the NFL’s ruling on the deflated football scandal have come from angry Patriots fans.  They’re easy to dismiss, since they have something of a vested interest in seeing the punishment overturned.  But because my two favorite teams are the Bills and the Steelers–the first two teams that will face the Brady-less Pats–I think I can say I’m coming at it from a slightly different perspective.

On the four game suspension for Brady: I was surprised they were that harsh.  I expected at most two games, since it has not even been proven he did anything.  But, if the league wants to take a “the-face-of-the-game-must-be-above-suspicion” stance, I can’t really blame them.  I mean, ever since the Ray Rice disaster, Goodell’s judgment will always be suspect in my eyes, but this is the equivalent of a Performance-Enhancing Drug suspension. Fair enough.

Fining them money and a first-round pick, though–that’s where I think they went overboard. I don’t care what Dave Rappoccio of “The Draw Play” says, this “it was a second offense” justification is ridiculous.

In the spying scandal, everyone agreed that Belichick broke the rules for where videographers were allowed to be placed during a game.  Even he admitted it. As the Patriots head coach, it was legitimate–harsh, but legitimate–to take away a draft pick from the organization, as any decision made by Belichick is effectively a decision made by the New England organization. So, it’s fair to take away a draft pick for that.

But you know what else happened only weeks before the spying controversy?  Then-Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was suspended four games for using HGH.  That’s right; the same number of games as Brady has been suspended.  Seems logical.  A player does something to get a competitive advantage, he gets suspended.  The team’s punishment is that they don’t get that player’s services for those games.  This all makes sense.

It wouldn’t have made sense to fine the Patriots for Harrison’s rule-breaking.  Harrison was acting on his own initiative, not on orders from the organization–just as was Brady, according to the report that this is all based upon. He wasn’t doing it at the behest of the organization.  I can’t remember any instance of an organization being punished for a player independently breaking the rules.

This lends credence to the idea that the NFL is trying to punish the Patriots not merely for cheating, but for their success.  This is not as outrageous as it sounds. After all, the NFL draft itself is designed to punish success in the interest of parity.  And it makes sense they would do that–it gives fans hope. (Not that my Bills have exactly taken advantage of it these past 15 years.)

You can’t win for this long without making a lot of enemies. I think the other 31 teams are just sick of seeing the Pats every year, and are resorting to unorthodox means to take them down.

Do I think they broke the rules on football inflation?  Probably the assistants did–whether Brady ordered it or not I don’t know.  I suspect every team does a little rule-bending things like this to gain an edge, but when one team gets too far ahead of the others, the rest use the knowledge that they are doing something against the rules as a convenient way to rein them in.  It is typical cartel behavior. I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the NFL. I just hope Buffalo can win at least one championship before it all falls apart.

UPDATE 5/22/2015: Blogger friend P. M. Prescott posted his own thoughts on this scandal. He differs from me in that he favors a stronger punishment for New England.  He also makes the very astute point that other players and the officials should have noticed the footballs were deflated–in which case they should also be punished.

I think it’s interesting that while we differ on how much the Pats should be punished for this, we both think the NFL has mishandled this.  It’s kind of a disaster for the league, as I mentioned in the comments below, because whether the Pats are completely innocent or guilty as sin, the league’s credibility has taken a huge hit.  Personally, it will be hard for me to have as much faith in the legitimacy of everything the league does going forward, because either the best team in football is fraudulent, or the league’s policing/enforcement of its own rules is fraudulent.

The Wall

Symbols, shapes, and puzzle pieces–
Queer and ancient Formulae–
All appear upon the crumbled desert wall.
Obscured with sands from Eastern breezes,
Here are signs, but none can see
What things they signified before the fall.

The All-Seeing Eye, the Winged God;
A haunting vigil they are holding here,
Exuding pow’r where’er their shapes recur.
This is the ground that prophets trod–
And fled as well, perhaps in fear,
As many a fallen Idol will aver.

At the base, a bony memory
Holds forth the remnant of a hand,
Bleached white from innumerable days.
Whether he is cautioning, or he
Is beckoning–who can understand
The meaning of that vacant gaze?

 Like this poem? Then maybe you’d enjoy my book of similar short stories and poetry.
Categories: fiction, poems, Poetry Tags: , ,

Boxing’s Day

At some point soon, Mayweather and Pacquiao will be fighting each other.  I know this because it has been all over the sports shows all week.  I know nothing about these two guys.  Apparently, it took five years for them to hash out all the details of this fight. That’s ridiculous–who wants to follow a sport where you need five years of legal battles to see the Championship?  That’s even worse than the old college football BCS.

Boxing seems to be making a comeback lately–fights are being advertised on a lot of channels all of a sudden.  It’s weird, because everyone has been talking about how violent football is, yet a sport where the entire point is to punch the other guy is enjoying a resurgence.

Never cared much for boxing.  The original Rocky movie was fairly dull.  It always struck me as extremely boring TV.  Even auto racing is more interesting to watch.  It is just two guys standing there punching each other.  Even wrestling, though completely fake, is more interesting to watch because there is a greater range of movement for the fighters.

Categories: boxing, sports Tags: ,

The coming rehabilitation of the underappreciated “Star Wars” prequels

Good article on Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry site by Kendall Ashley, on the good points of the Star Wars prequels.  Ashley writes:

You could argue that Lucas’ attempts to make lightning strike twice with the exact same formula on an audience who had only grown more jaded and cynical since their first viewing of the original trilogy doomed the project from the start. I think if we had come to Star Wars for the first time as kids with Phantom Menace, we’d feel a bit more fondly towards the prequels.

Having just watched all six Star Wars movies again, after not seeing them (except Phantom Menace, which I saw in 2012) for about 8 years, I would say that my impression was still that the prequel trilogy, while flawed, was far better than the original trilogy, which is entertaining but a mess. A New Hope was frankly rather silly. I’ve always felt this way, but this time the feeling was actually more pronounced.  The Phantom Menace may have some of the best scenes of the entire saga–each time I see it, I’m impressed by how good it is.

I’ve written at length about why each of the Star Wars prequels are actually good here, here and here.  I think people are gradually coming to appreciate them more.

Never mind! Chip Kelly IS so great!

I think it’s pretty funny that the coach I said was overrated is the one who finally took my advice and signed the quarterback I thought was underrated.  With Kelly’s experience using the spread-option, this is definitely a good fit for Tebow.  Sam Bradford is constantly getting injured, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Tebow gets to play if he can make it through training camp.

The Eagles appear to be morphing into some kind of power-running spread offense.  But I do think they are making a lot of good moves this offseason.  Still, Kelly needs to win a playoff game before we can start anointing him as the next great gridiron genius. And that defense is still suspect.

Categories: football, NFL, Tim Tebow Tags: ,

Something in the Water

Napoleon Bonaparte–shown here “avec pantalon”, thankfully. (Image via Wikipedia)

I was listening to the song “Waterloo” by Stonewall Jackson. (The country singer, not the Confederate General, who met his own Waterloo at the Battle of Chancellorsville.) The song gives “Waltzing Matilda” a run for its money in terms of lyrical quality. Witness:

Little Gen’ral–Napoleon of France– Tried to conquer the world, but lost his pants.

The point of the song is that “everybody has to meet his Waterloo”.  For some reason, the thought popped into my head that Nixon met his Waterloo at Watergate.  And then I thought about the phenomenon I have complained about before: referring to every scandal that happens along as “[whatever]-gate”. So, by that logic, shouldn’t we start referring to all crushing defeats as “[whatever]-loo”? For example:

No, you say?  That sounds stupid, you say? My point exactly.

UPDATE: In the comments, reader P.M. Prescott informs me that this actually happened.

Categories: History, Humor Tags: ,

The “Food Babe” and chemicals in our food.

I have a pet peeve: people complaining about food having “chemicals” in it.  Three of my co-workers have done this in the past few weeks.  I can’t really blame them, though–some foods are actually advertised as being “chemical-free”.  I wonder how that works.

See, everything is composed of chemicals. So having them in your food is not inherently good or bad. It really boils down to what the chemicals are, and how they interact with the chemicals naturally occurring in the human body.

Then I read about this lady named Vani Hari, who calls herself the “Food Babe“, and who has been blogging about the pernicious influence of chemicals in food.  She’s even succeeded in getting stores and restaurants to pull some from their shelves.

But there’s been a backlash against her–people saying she has no scientific basis for her claims.  She responds by saying these people are shills for the powerful food chemical industry.

What I know from skimming her blog is that she seems to equate ‘processed” with “bad for you”.  While it’s true that there are probably preservatives and such that are used in some foods that do have harmful effects, I also don’t think you can just say “oh, that food is processed! It’s not good.” Cooking food is processing it, and that’s been a major development in human evolution.

I think there are a lot of things wrong with some of the commonly-available foods, and some of Hari’s advice is good.  (Avoiding McDonald’s, for example–their food is dreadful.) But I think some of the other stuff she says is built more on irrational fears of “chemicals’ than on concrete issues.

Categories: food, Science Tags: , ,

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