Monday, October 31, 2005

A Football Rant in Two Parts - Part One

I knew from the second I read it on ESPN's The Bottom Line Saturday night: Tedy Bruschi was going to play, and it was going to be the only thing I was going to hear about for the next 24 hours.

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.
Right? Wrong.
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...


Willie Moe said...

Bill, I'm not defending Bruschi or the overblown coverage, but of course this will facilitate everyone just calling me bitter, when all I'm doing is playing devil's advocate. Reading this blog, it seems Bill, you are the bitter one. How many times have we heard how many defensive snaps someone has been involved in? Actually a few times, but that's not the point. Let me ask you , "How many NFL players have returned to the game 8 months after having a mild stroke causing vision loss and partial paralysis?"
As far as class goes, not every Patriot was waving terrible towels, and letting the field go is what makes it home field advantage. I mean sure it is easy to maintain a field in the dead of winter amidst snow and rain in New England. It's not like the purposely tore up the field, it was just left alone to save some bucks on grounds crew. If the Bills did it you would not call them unclassy, but call it good strategy. And I must have missed Bruschi's supposed blown coverage, where he apparently was suppposed to be manned up on Eric Moulds? Because that was the only Bills touchdown, if I recall. The Bills did get screwed by the refs and maybe that is really what upset you. Moulds did push the DB, but it didn't affect the play enough for a penalty to be called, which I thik should be a determining factor. Wow! I should of just put this in my blog.

Bill said...

Me? Bitter? What the fuck do I have to be bitter about? Only that this pan-ethnic, overrated do-nothing, disingenuous asshole hijacked all coverage of this, the ONLY primetime game my team gets all year, by doing absolutely nothing? Why would I be upset about that?

It's not very often we are involved in a game of national interest. But since we were, it would have been nice to have a major sports news organization dedicate, oh, six fucking seconds to what was going on with the OTHER team in the game. Instead we get Suzy Kolber, practically wiping Bruschi's sperm from her lips, gushing on and on about how brave he is.

Pat Tillman was brave. That guy who pulled people out of a burning car this summer was brave (funny, no one can remember HIS name). Tedy Bruschi played a game after getting clearance from 20 doctors. You want brave, tell me 20 doctors did NOT clear you, and then play. Maybe I'll give you a cookie. He could have been content to collect his guaranteed money and sit and home and practice holding his kids and smiling into the mirror and yelling "that's three!"

This coming from a guy who was blackout-drunk and angry the night the Pats won the AFC Championship.

I hope to God I never have a stroke. But if I ever do, Willie, you better be the first fucking one to call me a hero when I order my first pitcher at the 'Pace.

Willie Moe said...

Bill, I've never been more gay for you. If you have a stroke does that mean I can give you mouth-to-mouth?

russell said...

who is this moronic bills fan im glad you detest teddy coz anyone who roots for the buffalo retards does not know a quality player never the less a quality human being.