An American Hero
No matter what Bruschi did -- he could intercept a pass, he could make no tackles, he could make one tackle on a kickoff, he could rescuscitate a dying child on the sideline, he could murder a member of the clergy in cold blood at halftime -- one thing was for certain: Bruschi was going to be a hero.
A little background for those that don't know. Bruschi has been a linebacker for the Patriots for about 8 or 9 years. He has always rightfully been seen as a role player, not a superstar. But suddenly, due to the inordinate amount of Patriot hype, he was vaulted into superstar status after last season. There were people saying that he was a hall-of-famer, despite the fact that he had only made his first Pro Bowl last year.
Then, shortly after the Super Bowl, Bruschi had a stroke. I don't think he had a real stroke, like the kind that makes one side of your face droopy. He probably had heatstroke or something. But anyway, he was declared out for the season. But somehow, miraculously, heroically, he got the clearance, checking with no less than 20 doctors, to finally play! Of course, he had to pick the primetime Buffalo game to do this. No amount of maniuplation here.
I will give full disclosure about this subject: I hate Tedy Bruschi. Yes, I am a Buffalo Bills diehard, which doesn't help, because the Patriots, for which Bruschi plays are one of our rivals. But even if he played with the Arizona Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs, I would detest this self-aggrandizing, fake-smiling, faux-inspiring, overrated, grandstanding asshole. Every time I see him, he's got that fake "look at me and what a great guy I am" look on his face. He's always carrying his kids around, which says, "hey, aren't I a great dad?" And don't think this is some sort of revisionist anti-Boston bias; I have always always hated this prick, nearly going back to his days at Arizona.
This is a byproduct of the Patriots being the most overhyped sports entity since the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. Since he is a Patriot, he must be classy. Classy like the Patriots waving Terrible Towels at Pittsburgh fans in the AFC Championship game last year. Or classy like Bill Belichick letting Gillette Stadium's field go to shit so the Colts wouldn't be able to run as fast. Or classy like Belichick saying after the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl that (the admittedly subpar) Freddie Mitchell was "terrible" and "we were glad when he was out there."
Yes, all class. And Bruschi is one of the classiest. The Patriots are treated with a sort of reverence usually reserved for great Americans like Tom Cruise and Martha Stewart. So it's clear that every accolade he gets is fully deserved.
But -- seriously now -- I could not believe the amount of knob-slobbing ESPN and the national sports media gave Bruschi for his comeback.
Here's what the boxscore says:
"Bruschi made two tackles and assisted on five."(London Fletcher usually has this many in one quarter, but never mind that.)
"Bruschi was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage and then slowed down Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a 6-yard loss. After that, he made few noteworthy plays."
Some comments made about him after this truly truly unbelievable performance:
"...Tedy Bruschi has to be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year, right?"
"Unbelievable. You're just not supposed to be able to do that.
Bruschi believed the unbelievable" (Says Michael Smith)
"Just getting back on the field again was enough for New England inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi to win a game ball."
"Bruschi had seven tackles while participating in 64 defensive snaps." (Note: when is the last time someone noted how many defensive snaps any player participated in?)
"It's hard to recall even one spectacular, game-alterting play that Bruschi authored..."
(Says the usually excellent Len Pasquarelli.)
"Instead of immediately showing a replay of Tedy Bruschi's first play back ... and, remarkably, a play on which Bruschi made a tackle -- we saw the graphic of the Bills' starting defense. Pfffft. There goes the moment." (Quoth the getting ever-worse Peter King)
But this praise and universal applause was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the vomit-inducing coverage ESPN gave him. Honesly, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire should be ashamed of themselves for the fawning, hyperbolic coverage they gave Bruschi. A few of my favorite moments:
- Theismann saying, (paraphrasing) "How can you not root for Tedy Bruschi? The Buffalo Bills are rooting for Tedy Bruschi."
- Showing a montage of Bruschi throwing his hands in the air (after not making a play) to the tune of that "Hero" song from the first Spider-Man movie.
- Cutting to Bruschi's wife no less than a dozen times for no reason whatsoever. She wasn't crying or worried, just laughing it up in the stands.
- The constant camerawork showing Bruschi after every Patriots' defensive play, even ones where he had absolutely no bearing on the outcome.
- Failing to call Bruschi out on getting caught on blown coverage on a key Bills touchdown.
It was, in a word, sickening. Sports journalism -- and ESPN in particular -- are at their nadir. Something needs to happen sports fans. Rise up and revolt...