Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gregg Easterbrook Is Still Very Wordy

In this week's TMQ, Gregg Easterbrook spends 1,800 words on the Patriots being evil. This isn’t written in the guise of comedy or to be witty or something. Since GGAS recently moved our offices to New England, I’ll put this out there in the interest of full disclosure; I root for New England teams. Now I’ll balance that out with this: I’m not really an NFL fan. I enjoy watching the Patriots because they are good, not because they are “my team”, because they are not. Now, much of TMQ is essentially calling Bill Belichick and Tom Brady classless assholes who were running up the score against the Dolphins on Sunday and have been the NFL embodiment (on the field and off) of evil, while the Colts (specifically Dungy and Manning) represent all that is good. I have nothing against Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, but I just think Easterbrook's entire premise and arguments against the Patriots is silly.

To address the accusation of running up the score in yesterdays win against the Dolphins, he spends a lot of time on the logistics of the plays that were called to support his claims. Personally, I don’t give a shit if they were, but is it really a big issue today? It’s not like it was 63-0 and they continued to try to score. It just seems like a non-issue when you consider it was 42-7 at halftime and the final was 49-28. I mean, I got to think they’d be a little better about running up the score than to be outscored 21-7 in the second half.

It also makes little sense when you consider one of his “stats of the week:”

Stat of the Week No. 2: At one point, Tennessee led Houston 32-7 and held a 311-34 advantage in offensive yards, yet the Titans ended up needing a field goal on the final snap to win.

Look, the Patriots had a massive lead at halftime, and the odds of the Dolphins coming back were slim, but come-backs do happen. I think if Matt Cassel didn't get picked and the Dolphins weren't putting points on the board he would have finished off the game. Get over it. Oh no wait, write 1,800 words about it. Yeah, that makes more sense.

I’ll try to parse out some specific items that I thought were a little over the top/unfair.

Their coach, Tony Dungy, smiles in public and answers honestly whatever he is asked: He never yells at players or grimaces at bad plays and, when defeated, doesn't act as though it's the end of the world.

Okay, so that’s the mark of a “good” coach. So Red Auerbach, who yelled at his players on the court…he’s evil? Bobby Knight? That guy must be the devil. Doesn’t Peyton Manning yell at people from time to time and even (gasp) grimace after a bad play? Is this worth our time? Did Vince Lombardi, the man credited with “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” act like it was the end of the world when he lost (sounds like it)? These are rhetorical questions that I realize don’t directly address his point, that Tony Dungy is the embodiment of “good”, but is the antithesis of these acts really the embodiment of “evil”. That’s stupid.

The team has three Super Bowl triumphs, yet its players regularly whine about not being revered enough.

I honestly have to disagree. Other than the standard locker room fare that teams use to search for motivation (‘the other team is favored to win’ kind of stuff), I have never heard the mainstays on these Patriots teams (or the new players, since they joined the Patriots) whining about not being revered enough. If there are examples, then I’ll admit I’m wrong, because I’m not soaking up a ton of NFL media. But don’t say “regularly” without giving me one example.

The team's star, Tom Brady, is a smirking sybarite who dates actresses and supermodels but whose public charity appearances are infrequent. That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, "I'm hiding something."

This is a very petty attack on Tom Brady. Let’s review:

Smirking sybarite:

Okay, I had to look up the word sybarite because I’m not as smart as Gregg Easterbrook, but dictionary.com defines it as the following: a person devoted to luxury and pleasure.

So we’re making an attack on Tom Brady for smirking - which implies that he’s going out of his way to put on a negative vibe - and apparently liking luxury and pleasure. What-fucking-ever man. I recommend you not study Tom Brady’s face so much.

Dates actresses and supermodels

So? Is that evil? What if he dated cheerleaders like the ones you pretend to like and post all over TMQ, to compensate for the fact that you are kind of a dork? Check it out! I like chicks too!

..but whose public charity appearances are infrequent.

True, Brady’s ratio of supermodels dated to charitable donations is pretty low. Evil!

That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, "I'm hiding something."

What the fuck are you talking about? This is very irresponsible ad-hominem attacks in the name of being righteous. You can’t say “he smirks” and then leap to “he’s dishonest”. Gregg, your writing REAKS of pomposity and arrogance. That tells me that you’re an asshole. Is that fair?

The TMQ loves rhetorical questions. Let’s answer a few.

The New England players still might suffer some long-term harm from the cheating, though: Given the image New England is projecting, would you want Patriots' players endorsing your product?

I don’t think Tom Brady will have any trouble getting endorsements because of Belichick’s taping scandal. I see Patriots players advertising all sorts of shit in New England, and there really aren’t that many NFL stars involved in national ads, but Brady is one of them. So that’s bunk.

But if the Patriots are unfairly maligned, why the whole screw-you act they are staging?

If you were unfairly maligned, wouldn’t your mentality be of the “screw-you” variety? Mine would be. I peg you as saying:

Gregg: "I'm being unfairly maligned, but please please see that my heart is pure, and look at the ass on that one!"
Me: Gregg that's a man
Gregg: I like naked women!
Me: Sure.

If the Patriots were unfairly maligned, they'd be trying hard to convince us their hearts are pure, and that distinctly is not what they are doing.

Woah woah woah. Hearts are pure? Man I was kidding about that shit (okay I cheated). No, if a team is accused of cheating, they don’t then go out and play and try to barely win, but in a “our hearts are pure” kind of way. No. They try to win in a way that says, “do you see any cheating now, while I’m kicking your ass?” This is pretty simple.

But if the Patriots are so awesome they don't need to cheat, then why were they cheating in Week 1? The whole situation remains creepy. Should New England continue on and win the Super Bowl without a major attitude shift toward nice-guy behavior -- and should the year end without the NFL's ever explaining what New England evidence it destroyed or why -- there could be a huge amount of cynicism about this NFL season. Cynicism doesn't sell a sports product, nor is it what the NFL should be marketing to the young.

This is a great example of how Easterbrook can, in a passive way, make incredible leaps in logic that just make little sense. It’s a pretty innocent little set of sentences, but the statement that he’s making is pretty grandiose. I’ll just chime in and say that there won’t be a huge amount of cynicism if things play out with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, for precisely the reason why you are wrote those 1,800 words. They are kicking everyone’s ass, and letting it be known that they are the better team, regardless of what your opinions of them and the taping scandal are. I’m not sure why this is so difficult to understand.

This entire post is less than 1,400 words - he wrote 1,800 about the Patriots being evil. That's a little obsessive.


Andy said...

While I (mostly) agree with what you said:
I do think the pats are running up the score needlessly, and Bobby Knight might very well be the devil

Mike said...

Say what Andy? The Pats were up 42-7 at half time, are you telling me that the Dolphins magically found a way to shut down the Pats' offense and limit them to 7 2nd half points? I'm pretty sure the Pats could have scored at least 70 if they were really evil and concerned with running up the score. Instead, the offense took the 2nd half off because there was no point in totally embarassing the lowly Dolphins. If anything, I would say that they took pity on them until it got a bit took close for Bill's comfort and he had Brady get one more insurance score.

Easterbrook sucks.

Jeff said...

I don't disagree with the running up the score statement. I just said that the Dolphins game is sort of a non-issue in that department, since they scored 7 points in the second half.

Separately though, if they want to use starters later in games to score more points that they don't need, that's a risk and it's their choice to take that risk. I generally don't feel bad about professional sports teams getting beat by wide margins.

Tonus said...

I've never understood the concern over running up the score, especially at the pro level. So which is worse, a team that is dominating you and continues to drive and score over and over... or a team that builds a huge lead and basically says "you know what? We're so much better than you that we're just going to stop trying so hard so that the final score doesn't look so bad. And here's a lollipop!"

Yeah, I'd really feel better if I was losing 42-7 and the other team had stopped trying because it was so easy. That 49-28 final score? I'm proud of that loss, even though it would've been 72-10 if they hadn't pulled their starters and run off-tackle every single time in the second half.

Yeah, running up the score is evil, better to make sure you don't bruise the fragile egos of men who spend their Sunday afternoons running full speed at each other and slamming their faces into the ground for a living.

Chris W said...

Do you think it might be fair for the Pats to run up the score after the Dolphins publicly humiliated them last year with that snap-count fiasco?

You don't pull that shit and not expect a little bit of your face rubbed in it...

Likewise, the Pats shouldn't expect much mercy from the Fins in the future

andy said...

I never said I was angry about them needlessly running up the score, or that they were evil for doing so. I just said that I thought that's they were doing. Personally, if I were a professional sports coach, I'd do the same thing. Professional athletes make way too much money to have someone else go easy on them. I don't think New England should be penalized because the Dolphins are a bad team. The Patriots have every right to do what they're doing.

Matt said...

I have to give Easterbrook credit in this week's "TMQ Feedback" post for publishing a reader email that last weekend's Tennessee game pokes a large hole in the "running up the score" argument. Would have been better if Easterbrook actually addressed the argument head on, but at lease he acknowledged it.

Brian said...

Well put. Easterbrook's article went beyond reasonable journalism. It was vindictive. He has harassed the Patriots nearly every week this season, including this week. Even Kornheiser has gotten over it, amazingly. Get a life, it's not a big deal either way. these are gorwn men being paid millions. Momentum always carries to the next game. Our starters wouldnt be the same if they played 2 quarters a week this entire year. And there is always the chance of a comeback, however rare. But, really, Greg, who cares? find someone else to piss on.