Tom Brady will be going for a record sixth Super Bowl ring when the New England Patriots play the Los Angeles Rams Sunday in Atlanta, and there are a lot of people who aren’t happy about it.
At first glance, this seems perplexing. Starting with George Washington, Americans have a long history of idolizing winners, showering them with fame, praise and generally more money than is good for them. Baseball fans still celebrate Babe Ruth, the game’s first super star, along with Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and others. With the exception of Gehrig, none of these guys were choir boys.
The great baseball dynasties–the “Murders Row” Yankees of the ’20s and ’30s and their great teams of the ’50s–are fondly remembers by fans. In basketball, its the Auerbach/Russell era of the Boston Celtics, the Abdul-Jabar/Johnson teams of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Jordan/Pippen squads in Chicago. And who can forget the great 49ers, Cowboys and Packers teams?
But the same respect isn’t being accorded the Patriots, who are appearing in their record 9th Super Bowl, all during the Brady era. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One of them is Brady, with his movie star looks, super model wife, and jet set life style. (How many people do you know who attended the Kentucky Derby, then took a private jet to Vegas in time for a championship fight that night? This sounds like the Carly Simon classic, “You’re So Vain,” come to life.)
Brady can be somewhat off-putting in the rare interviews he does. You get the sense his responses are scripted rather than from the heart, seeking to find the perfect words to maintain his image. Still, a certain feeling of arrogance comes through (why shouldn’t it?).
Then there’s the evil genius behind New England’s success, coach Bill Belichick. His record of success speaks for itself, but he will never be likable in the same sense that Bill Walsh and John Madden were.
Belichick clearly dislikes interacting with the media, and does the minimum required to avoid being fined by the NFL (head coaches are required to attend 2 press conferences a week, 1 at mid-week and 1 after the game).
Belichick never smiles and studiously avoids saying anything that ‘s quotable. Jason Gay, sports columnist for The Wall Street Journal (really!), describes him as the grumpy old lobster boat captain, and that about nails it.
Then there’s the team’s reputation for deceit, the most recent example being the deflate gate controversy of a couple of years ago. If the Patriots win Sunday, few people outside of the New England area will be celebrating.
But these days, even teams that are likable can cause grumbling for being too good. Take the Golden State Warriors, currently seeking their 4th NBA title in 5 years.
Coach Steve Kerr is quotable, funny, and able to get a roster full of stars to tamp down their egos and play together as a team–the Warriors lead the league in assists. One of their star players, Steph Curry, is one of the most popular in the league.
The Warriors achieved success by drafting wisely–Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green weren’t highly regarded when the Warriors picked them–and then filling out their roster with excellent role players.
But the team has come under criticism the last two years for signing all-world free agent Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps the most dominant low post player in the NBA today.
Durant was criticized for spurning Oklahoma City and signing with the Warriors (who could blame him?) and then Golden State was accused of piling on when it signed Cousins, who’s trying to make a comeback after tearing his Achilles tendon. (The fact that nobody else was willing to take a chance on Cousins apparently is irrelevant.)
Whoever thought you could become TOO successful in this country?
Rebounds: Barry Bonds failed to make it into the Hall of Fame again on his seventh try. He has 3 more chances to get the 75 percent of the votes he needs.
Most people think the all-time leader in home runs is being punished for his use of steroids, and that is certainly the case. But there’s another factor at work here too.
Inductees are elected by sports writers, a group of people Bonds ignored and went out of his way to humiliate during his playing days. Barry had a well deserved reputation for being a first-class jerk, managing to alienate teammates, team officials, and just about everybody else he came into contact with during his long playing career. The Giants put up with it because he was their biggest box office draw.
But payback can be a bitch. That’s why Bonds can’t get a job in baseball today and why he probably won’t get voted into the Hall of Fame in the next three years.
The Pac-12 is an absolutely terrible basketball conference this season. It doesn’t have one team ranked in the Top 25 and–at this point in the season–the conference champion is likely to be the only team to make it into the NCAA tournament.
The 2 best teams in the West? Gonzaga and Nevada.
Dave Pasch, the lead announcer on ESPN’s coverage of the Pac-12, should get a bonus for having to work with commentator Bill Walton. He has to call the game while at the same time keeping Walton from going off the rails, no easy task.
New Raiders GM Mike Mayock is acting like he’s actually in charge of the team’s football operations. But he doesn’t have a guaranteed 10-year, $100 million contract like coach Jon Gruden.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Brady will get his sixth ring, breaking a tie with defensive end Charles Haley, who won 2 Super Bowls with the 49ers and 3 with Dallas. Haley is in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he was difficult to deal with and was known for his erratic behavior.
The 49ers finally had enough and traded him to Dallas when Haley got into an argument with coach George Seifert and then peed on a teammate’s car. After he retired, Haley was diagnosed as being bipolar and has since become an advocate for early detection and treatment of the disorder.