IS BOB KRAFT THE JORIE GRAHAM OF THE NFL?

 

When will poetry be No. 1?

Everybody knows there’s cheating in poetry.  Jorie Graham, as public contest judge, picked poetry by students and friends. 

Shameful.  And silly, because someone winning a contest and getting a book published doesn’t do anything for poetry.  

There’s no drama.  We don’t get to see the losers cry and gnash their teeth.  We don’t get to see the winners celebrate.  We don’t even see the losers.  We don’t even know who they are.    And there can’t really be a winner worth the name if the losers aren’t visible.  That’s the problem with poetry.  The tragedies and triumphs are completely hidden. 

All we see are books with boring blurbs on them. 

Where’s the blood and the glory? 

Does anyone really believe, or care, about blurbs? 

Of  course not.

Where’s the trash talk?  

Jorie Graham had a pretty face.  Po-biz should have worked hard to make her the face of poetry, instead of having her work behind-thescenes as a corrupt judge.  What did that do for poetry?   Nothing.

If you’re able to corrupt morals in a general way, maybe you’ll make a real name for yourself.  Maybe you’ll get exiled, but you’ll be famous, really famous, one-name famous, like Ovid.  If you’re going to be corrupt, do it big, so it spreads fame for your company, in this case, poetry.

What I want to see on someone’s book is: “To win this Press prize, the author beat out the following jackasses…” and pictures of the sorry losers, and blurbs ridiculing their poetry.

You want people to read poetry?   You’ve got to show the winners and losers.

It would have been better if Jorie Graham had judged her own poetry as  winner in contest after contest; the pure arrogance and aplomb of that act would have helped to focus poetry-stardom, making it more accessible to all.

Look at the NFL.  

People love it.  

But pro football was once moribund, like poetry is today. The tapes of the first two Super Bowls were erased by NBC and CBS; that’s right: no one can watch the first two Super Bowls, because they are gone forever; the networks didn’t think Super Bowls I and II were worth saving.  

Now every obscure NFL fumble, concussion, and tantrum is studied by millions.   The football player, Moss, is a million times more famous than the poet, Moss   Why does one moss grow under a rock, and the other moss scream in our ears?

It all began with Joe Namath and Super Bowl III.  Broadcasters felt the first two Super Bowls were not worth preserving.  

Even though Namath played for what was then the nearly illegitimate AFL, even though Namath was told to quit football if he did not sell his Manhattan restaurant that was frequented by mobsters, even though many in-the-know thought Super Bowl III was fixed, with the Colt QB making all sorts of questionable throws (as they say on the street, “no one can throw a game like a QB”), Super Bowl III was a spectacular success with TV-watchers.

Namath not only put a badly-needed face on the NFL, he made millions (and future billions) thanks to the legitimacy he gave to the AFL with the nearly-3 touchdown underdog Jets’ Super Bowl victory, allowing the NFL/AFL merger to occur smoothly the following season.  Joe Namath’s 1969 victory put the Super Bowl on the road from an erasable item to a national institution.

The Black Sox Scandal (a thrown World Series in 1919) almost destroyed the integrity of major league baseball.

The remedy? 

Babe Ruth and his homeruns.

Baseball officials decided to juice the ball in 1920, and baseball got its first modern homerun hitter, Babe Ruth, the season after the 1919 World Series.  

The rule is: when faced with a cheating scandal or declining popularity, the only way a league can save itself is with a display of massive fireworks.

Joe Namath in 1969 was like Babe Ruth in 1920, a savior of a sport in the eyes of a fickle public.

Western poetry’s “fireworks”—in order to excite public interest—has largely consisted of not transcending scandal with firework-heroics, but embracing scandal: think of Ovid and Byron; think of the obscenity trials of Joyce’s Ulysses and Ginsberg’s Howl.   If one looks for true poetry “heroics,” perhaps we’re talking of Virgil and Dante and Milton?  And today, “heroics” is perhaps a poet who has been murdered by a tyrannical regime—but this is a far cry from anything which might be cynically manipulated by po-biz for its own survival.  

Sexual morality can become so corrupt in society, that corrupt poets can no longer shock, or be considered scandalous. 

Sports, however, to be legitimate, has to be “clean.”   Not morally clean—look at the recent cases in the NFL of Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger— but free of the cheating-taint: steroids or fixed contests.

Gambling and organized crime will probably always be ‘hidden but present’ in pro sports.   But as long as the sport is perceived to be clean by those who follow it for its thrill of competition, (competition is a better word, we think, than the more vague “entertainment”) most everyone is happy.

The old NFL franchises, like the Giants and Steelers, used gambling winnings as start-up funding.  Vince Lombardi’s old Green Bay Packers had star players who were convicted football gamblers.   But as long as these unpleasant facts remain outside the minds of the TV-viewing public, they’ll watch, with pride, what they think is sport, and not manipulated entertainment.

Heroics in sports is vital, and heroics has to seem real, not manipulated. 

Poets and psychologists may understand this better than the mere fans and TV-watchers, but it’s also important for a league to have a dynasty, a great team that people can take pride in; the dynastic team gives a mysterious legitimacy to a sport.  What would major league baseball be without the Yankees—a team to love, a team to admire, and a team to beat/hate?  There has never been a major league sport without a dynasty: the Celtics, the Canadians, the Yankees, the Packers.  It lends legitimacy to a sport in an  uncanny manner.  True winning cannot seem to be random or lucky, or, worst of all, the result of a fix—the latter a horror that dare not speak its name among earnest tribes of sports fans; no, winning has to be seen as the product of an ordained person, or team; winning has to have a certain inevitable, historic, almost holy aura to it.

There are two truths right now about the NFL:  One: Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, is the most powerful person in the NFL.  He personally negotiates major media contracts for the NFL, the current NFL commissioner was his pick, he built a football stadium with his own money, he has numerous media and corporate contacts, and he gives widely to charity.  Two: Tom Brady, in a game filled with thuggish personalities, is the face of the NFL.  He is tall, handsome, a winner, dates a supermodel, has a squeaky-clean reputation, and never breathes a negative word about anything in public.

Kraft was able to buy low when he acquired the Patriots (he bought the real estate before he bought the team) because they were highly unsuccesful at the time.  The Patriots almost moved to St. Louis, and then Hartford, before Kraft invested a great deal of his own money to purchase the team outright.  In 2000, Bill Belichick fell into the Patriots lap, even though he was going to be the coach for the New York Jets.  Belichick, a convicted cheater (the NFL fined him half a million dollars) quickly brought the Patriots three Super Bowls in four years, with Tom (Face of the NFL) Brady at the helm; Brady, Belichick, and Kraft made it to their first Super Bowl by surviving a game-ending fumble by Brady in the playoffs when the “Tuck Rule” was called by an official, a bizarre, little-known rule, impossible to interpret, reversing the fumble, and saving the Patriots’ season. 

After Belichick was fined for cheating, the Patriots, like major league baseball suddenly discovering the homerun ball in 1920 after the 1919 black sox scandal, erupted with a fireworks offense (never seen before, or since) and a perfect season—helped along by a number of questionable officials’ calls.   Congress was threatening to investigate Spygate (the Patriots cheating scandal) in the weeks leading up to the 2008 Super Bowl—and the perfect-season, juggernaut Spygate Pats turned into a lamb, and lost.

In the 2010 season, the Patriots, with mostly rookies and second-year players, are still winning, (although every opponent marches down the field on them,) and their victories seem to be coming from fluke plays and fluke calls.  The Patriots did get hammered this year by the Cleveland Browns; the Browns’ head coach once worked for Belichick—and was the coach for the Jets in the game when Belichick was caught cheating.

Speaking of the bizarre ‘Tuck Rule,’ the game of football has such fuzzy rules that fuzzy rules are the rule.  When a player is ‘holding’ another, or when ‘pass interference’ really occurs are as puzzling as the infamous ‘Tuck Rule,’ never mind the question of when a player is really down, or when the ball is really dead, or was that player out-of-bounds, or was that a fumble or not (‘tuck rule,” no.)?   If there’s one constant in the NFL, it’s this: teams that benefit from this fuzziness always win.

TV-watchers prepare for the game by reminding themselves of how great their favorite team’s defense or offense is, but when the game begins, suddenly it’s not a players’ game, but an officials’ game, as every other play brings some head-scratching interpretation of the “rules.” 

Ex-football-player broadcasters display impotent expertise-ism as they—and often the camera—express blatant (but always harmless) consternation at the officials’ on-field rulings, rulings that dominate the contest in ratio to the degree they befuddle. 

There is something comforting about the fuzzy rules of the NFL to Americans, who love to put their faith in the decisions of nearly-invisible government officials who always know best. 

Presidents, and other visible leaders, or political candidates, can be safely mocked, but officials behind-the-scenes simply do what they do with impunity: the referee as God.  Most in football today, however, would say it’s Bob Kraft who is the God.  Or Tom Brady.

Those who know the game of football know it is very much like a long volley in tennis; games go back and forth, with each team moving the ball down the field, and scoring, or giving up the ball on a punt.  A team will only get a handful of possessions in each half, (sometimes a team’s offense will only touch the ball once in a quarter) and one error (an interception returned for a touchdown, for instance) is often enough to decide a game.  One fumble , one interception, or one crucial ref call (or non-call) is all it takes.   The TV-watcher, however, wants to believe the winner was better and the loser is a…loser.  The pride of the fan demands it.

Pro-wrestling (WWE) is rigged, scripted, immensely popular, and relies on the perception of good guys, bad guys and ‘bad’ good guys: Tom Bradys, Michael Vicks and Ben Roethlisbergers.   Here’s the question no ESPN analysist will ask, for fear of losing their job, and no proud NFL fan will ask, for fear of losing their soul:  How close is pro football to pro wrestling?

The NFL is successful.

The NFL has a face.  Poetry does not.

The poet today is as unknown and faceless—as an NFL referee.

Congratulations, Bob Kraft!

Got any ideas for us poets?

19 Comments

  1. Noochness said,

    November 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    “What I want to see on someone’s book is: ‘To win this Press prize, the author beat out the following jackasses…’ and pictures of the sorry losers, and blurbs ridiculing their poetry.”

    I hate to see a blurb on a book jacket
    Attributed to an organization—
    “Hilarious! — UPI”,
    Or similar characterization.

    Give me the name of a human being
    Whose taste I can judge as valid or obscene.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    November 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    noochness,

    check out this blurb on Robyn Schiff’s book of poems, Revolver.

    “Wild with imagination, unafraid, ambitious, inventive, stitched to perfection by a formal genius that recalls the quirkily perfect forms (and tones) of Marianne Moore, Revolver is a perpetual motion machine in which time, history, matter, and a profound tenderness for the made world knot, rush, pleat, unfurl…. What an embroidery, what a flawless understanding of gravity. There is not a poem in this collection that does not amaze. As with Worth—and worthy of being its successor—this is a work of profound daring, written by a spirit deeply aware of the ultimate cost of beauty, and the endless human thirst for, and dependence upon, surfaces—historical, lyric, material, and emotional.”
    —Jorie Graham

    Would that put you on cloud nine, or what?

    Blurbs as love-making?

    I’m wondering what sort of background music should accompany this blurb…

    The only thing missing from that blurb is the cranberry sauce.

    The one paean that might compare is a CBS sports broadcaster intoning the praises of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the masterful precision of the Patriots for four hours…

    Wow.

    Let us be thankful.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Tom

    • Noochness said,

      November 25, 2010 at 10:35 am

      “I’m wondering what sort of background music should accompany this blurb…”

      “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2
      From which the theme from Mad Men is lifted
      But it may not be long enough at five minutes thirty
      Gosh, Robyn Schiff as a poet must be gifted!

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 25, 2010 at 11:31 pm

        Sony Music Entertainment has restricted content.

        Go Sony!

      • Noochness said,

        November 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

        It’s not restricted, Thomas,
        As I too thought in fear—
        One needs only click the link
        To youtube, and it’ll appear!

    • Noochness said,

      November 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Imagination

      by Robyn Schiff

      At Sarah’s wedding when the groomsmen hoisted Sarah in a chair above our heads
      she slid so gracefully off, each satin-covered button skimmed the seat. Tiny buttons,
      there must have been two dozen up the bodice, each counted in a satin-covered ping
      against the dinner chair. She hadn’t eaten. Nerves and to close the dress.
      The wisp of her loosened and came forward like love in a dream lewdly lights
      a strange acquaintance whom it has possessed and made seductive.
      Lofty thought, into the other imagination, lies down.
      And not in dream only; light also resuggests objects on a real life table:
      someone comes to breakfast and is no longer beautiful.
      It must be the wind that keeps closing the closed door.
      I keep thinking someone is coming up the back stairs when I remember
      “back stairs” is a romantic construct of a different house in which servants no longer
      even hurry about discreet quarters hidden beyond the bookcase.
      It would be a good night

      if each jolt was justified. It would mean so much
      to wake up and know just what is needed. Listening to my neighbor practicing guitar
      too slowly for the melody to grow familiar, I am with him, but he is alone.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    November 25, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    The Patriots managed to win this Thanksgiving, but, as they have all season, looked very ordinary for much of the game today against the 2-8 Lions and their back-up QB with a lousy arm.

    The Pats, trailing in the game, got a big third-down “pass interference” call (which was not pass interference) late in the first half, to keep a drive alive. Instead of having to punt, the Pats got a crucial first down when the Lions had a 2 possession lead and the momentum.

    Well into the second half, trailing by only a touchdown, and driving at mid-field, the Lions converted a big pass play, but it was called back for “offensive pass interference,” a ridiculous call.

    Those sorts of bogus calls in crucial situations will take the wind right out of a team.

    The Lions, despite their weak-armed QB, marched down the field numerous times, and looked to be in control for most of the game.

    Detroit missed a FG, and their back-up QB threw a dumb interception; Detroit easily could have won this game had a break or two gone their way, despite the final score, as the demoralized Lions gave up at the end.

    The fights which broke out in the game didn’t make for a very pretty Thanksgiving, and Brady on the sideline, late in the fourth quarter, screaming at his defense to play better, looking somewhat like a crazed Charles Manson, even after the Pats had the game well in hand, was rather bizarre.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Noochinator said,

      November 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      I watched a bit of the game myself
      And felt pity for all the dads
      ‘Cause the poetry of the game itself
      Was lost in the prose of the ads.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

        My household contained fourteen,
        All, except me, wished to dish and eat,
        Only, I, poet irked by wrong,
        Tuned in to be tortured by Belicheat.

      • December 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm

        Nice one. During my heavier drinking days, I was nearly tossed from bars ac couple of times for yelling obscenities at the ads.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    December 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    The Pats are still cheating…

    Their second-leading tackler suspended 4 games without pay for using a ‘performance enhancing susbstance.’

    The excuse, of course, is laughable:

    “The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug.”

    Riiight.

    And the Pats were trounced this year by the Browns, with a rookie quarterback…because the Pats are the best team in the NFL this year?

    I’m sure numerous Pat players this year are taking various kinds of “medication.”

    Why the NFL doesn’t refute the guilty Pats player’s statement, and just lets it stand is one more indication that the game is akin to pro wrestling: the drama of misbehaving thugs is the selling point; the notion that it’s a fair sport is simply a charade. It’s important for the NFL to allow Pat fans, for instance, to believe the Pats are not cheating, that it was just a technicality, for the illusion must be kept that it’s a noble and fair sport, and your town is better for having a winning team, etc, even as in reality the NFL is a circus of ref and player rigged thuggery.

    Almost all football players look like they’re on steroids, so unlike baseball, in which fans notice certain ballplayers getting bigger, the NFL has a much easier job of keeping the steroid issue under wraps. They’re having more problems keeping the concussion issue under wraps, though. Steroids make the game more violent and exciting, and this is what most fans pay to see. If the NFL does promote certain teams as winners, as pro wrestling does with certain wrestling stars, selective steroid use would be an ideal way to do it. Ever wonder how on certain weeks teams look completely pumped, and other times they look flat? It could be the candy rationing.

  5. December 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I am pretty sure most NFL players do use PEDs–they only get flagged if their testosterone shows up too high, and the bar for “too high” is quite a bit above the average. I think most players manage to finesse the tests by cycling correctly. Fans get so much more upset about PEDs in baseball because it has skewed the home run and other offensive statistics, and comparing statistics across eras has always been a critical part of being a serious baseball fan. A generation of players who couldn’t carry Jim Rice’s jock ended up with way more dingers than him. I remember when Yaz hit home run number 400–it was monumental, one of the two most exciting things that happened that summer in New England (the other being when he got hit number 3000). In the past generation, 400 homeruns became pedestrian. In football, comparing stats even within the same era is not necessarily that big of a deal. The fans want larger than life athletes who do superhuman things, and they look the other way when it comes to what it takes to be superhuman.

    Anyway, you are not going to ruin my enjoyment of what is shaping up to be maybe the greatest Patriots season yet. They ARE the best team in the league–the past month and half they have been shellacking top play off contenders. You don’t beat the second best team in your division 45-3 because the refs gave you a few questionable calls. You don’t put up 33 in one half in a blizzard against one of the league’s best defenses unless you are a legitimate powerhouse.

    Your continual reference to the Cleveland debacle is misguided, too. Most great teams lose a couple of games they shouldn’t lose during an entire season. And Cleveland, despite their record, is no pushover. They also routed the defending champion Saints, one of the league’s other top teams. They are coached by a former Patriot’s assistant, so it’s no surprise he came out with a great game plan for the Patriots.

  6. thomasbrady said,

    December 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Briggs,

    Very, very true about baseball being a more statistical game.

    This is apt: “Ruin my enjoyment.” The fan’s enjoyment is concomitant with loyalty, and loyalty is a virtue, a nearly untouchable one, that protects a host of ills that eat away at philosophy and truth.

    Lopsided results in football games are rarely understood. In baseball, it can usually be attributed to the fact that one team’s starting pitcher couldn’t find the plate: simple. But football is much more a team sport: twenty-five players can’t flop simultaneously, so how does one team trounce another?

    The 2010 Browns are 3-8 this year when not playing the Saints or the Patriots, two darlings of the NFL. The Browns just lost to the Bills, who can’t beat anybody. You name the Browns’ coach as a former colleague of Belichick’s, but fail to mention it was this very coach who had, and acted on, secret knowledge, kept from the fans, which directly led to embarrassment–and a unique, stiff fine by the NFL–for Belichick and the New England Patriots.

    The proud cry of the Pats fan which I’ve heard is, “If you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’!” But they don’t finish the sentence: Trying to what? Trying to cheat: the defense is a tautology.

    Tom

    • December 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      Tom–

      Most fans view issues of cheating with a lot of complexity and nuance–unfortunately, most are more open to complexity and nuance in this area than they are in more important areas. But a lot of what is technically “cheating” in sports gets viewed as “gamesmanship.” The Giants almost certainly were stealing signs when Thompson took Branca deep on the last day of the 1951 season. But that will never stop being one of the great moments in the collective memory of the game. More painful and closer to home for me is the Bucky Fucking Dent shot in 1978–it has been seriously suggested that the anemic Dent hit that with a loaded bat. But I try to complain about that out here in Yankees’ territory, I’ll get laughed out of the bar. Gaylord Perry is one of the beloved figures in the game’s history, in large part because of the perception that he was so good at cheating–so good that he didn’t even have to cheat that much. I read his autobiography when I was a kid–it’s called ME AND THE SPITTER. It made me a big fan of Perry’s. In my memory he is a kind of literary kin to Toad from THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. The big taboo for cheating in baseball is the whole streroid thing–that’s where the acceptable line is. And the reason there is such a huge uproar is, as I noted above, due to the way stats have been skewed.

      The Belichick taping incident is a clear case of cheating–but that kind of cheating goes on and has always been generally regarded as another form of gamesmanship. It’s cheating, and there’s a penalty for it, but it’s also something almost everybody tries to do, and that’s why the uproar among most NFL coaches has not come near approaching the tooth gnashing of all the non-Patriot fans, who rightfully hate my team for being the dominant force in the league over the past decade. I’d hate them, too, if I hadn’t been cheering for them since I was five years old.

      The league does view the Patriots as a darling, and Brady as a golden boy. Maybe they get some calls based on that. It happens in all sports. The refs tend to get intimidated by the stars on the field. But the Patriots also don’t make many mental errors, including penalties. They have also dominated their opponents this year on take-aways–is the league rigging it so opposing players will throw more interceptions and drop the ball more often? Football has a salary cap and the players tend to be of roughly equivilent athletic ability–the teams that are “great” are often just the teams that remain more focused and disciplined.

      I’m not even sure that your point is about the Browns losing to the Bills. The Browns are a talented but inconsistent team. I live in Bills territory and follow them a little bit–they are the best three win team I have seen in a long time. They have lost a bunch of games in overtime–they took the great Baltimore Ravens defense into over-time. They are similar to the Lions this year, who managed to shut down the first place Packers last weekend. These kind of games happen in football. Both teams are loaded with great athletes who hate to lose. I remember one year during the Bills great run of four straight super bowls when the Patriots pulled off an upset against them for one of maybe two wins they got all season long.

      Briggs

  7. thomasbrady said,

    December 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Briggs,

    I love the rigors of competition and gamemanship, but when unfair advantage and favoritism mitigates that competition, I feel a pang of disgust, and it ruins everything for me. When the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the playoff competition this year, I heard a local Boston fan gripe, “the Yanks buy pennants.” They do! The gripe is a fact: the Yanks do buy pennants. And if teams with small payrolls occasionally win, (Tim McCarver has publically defended the Yanks’s budget in this manner) this does not change the fact that a team with a huge payroll is not fair, is not sporting, is not real competition. End of story. But fans have malformed psyches. They are into self-torture and they are gluttons for punishment. Hating the Yanks is its own separate ‘sport’ (my father taught it to me when I was very young) and it augments the popularity of baseball generally. League CEOs know this fact, and they know it well: leagues profit from good guys v. bad guys, from heroes and villains, from dynasties and their rivals, from teams and players (in relative terms, obviously) of legendary excellence. If every team played .500 ball and there was a different champion each year, fan interest would flag—it would have no markers to understand the league. In college football, the BCS is desperate to have two titans each year squaring off in the ‘championship’ game, and somehow (by miracle!) even though there’s hundreds of teams playing a relatively short season, it always falls out that two (only two!) teams are deemed the two who can win the championship year after year, without any playoff system! The point is this: a League can make itself, and will make itself, for its own profit and survival, look exactly how it wants to look, and no individual coach, team, or member of that League has any say in this, never mind the fans. If MLB baseball lasts another 1,000 years, the New York Yankees, by default, will be a successful team over the next 1,000 years, guaranteed, because that’s the way baseball defines itself. The Yankees will win 200-400 championships over the next 1,000 years, and that’s just the way it will be. Ah, but won’t that be comforting, in a way? Of course it will. It’s like gravity. It has to happen.
    I’ve seen too many ref calls go the Pats’ way—and they either don’t show the replay, or when they do, the broadcasters shake their heads: boy, that was a strange call—but what can you do? No one can do anything. Ref penalty calls can’t be reversed. I remember the Pats/Ravens game this year. The Ravens led at half-time and the Pats looked awful. The talking heads were even laughing at how bad the Pats looked during the half-time analysis.
    Trailing 20-10, the Pats were putting together one of their little drives, but on third down, the Ravens D-back made a marvelous play, guarding the Pat receiver perfectly, the pass was errant, and the Pats would have to punt. But for some reason a flag was thrown. Pass interference—on the Ravens??? Yup. Instead of having to punt from their own territory, the Pats now had a first and ten in the Ravens’ territory and the whole Ravens team—you can see these plays up on the big TV screen in the stadium—knew what was happening: the gods had spoken. The whole game changed after that play; the Ravens became indecisive and helpless, almost at once, and the Pats were full of confidence. It was uncanny. This is just one example. I see this all the time. And it’s not just penalties—it’s what they are and when they are called. You can’t look up penalty yards in the stat sheet and tell what’s going on: you have to watch the game, and you know. I’ve seen this too many times, and I know. Yes, there are villains and heroes. Most football fans outside of Baltimore will say Ray Lewis should be in jail for murder; I’m not going to argue the merits of this; but that perception is out there, and that’s what matters. The Ravens spoke out when the refs hurt them in a game where they should have ruined the Pats perfect season, right in the wake of the cheating scandal, so the league will probably punish the Ravens for a long time. The Steelers QB should be in jail, but the Steelers and the Rooney family are NFL darlings, with the Saints (because of Katrina) and the Pats, because of Kraft’s influence. Michael Vick is hated, too, and Brady is the Tuck Rule golden boy, and this is all great for the NFL. It really is their golden age.

    Tom

    • December 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      Tom–I only listened to the Ravens game on the radio and you are not the first person I have heard single out that call. But that call didn’t make the game by itself, either. I think there were five punts in OT of that game–it was a case of two of the leagues better teams cracking back and forth on each other. Since that week, the Patriots have kept gathering steam. You seem familiar enough with Football to know that teams often get better or worse during the course of a year, and the Patriots throughout the past ten years have continually showed an ability to get better and better as a season goes on. It’s a sign of good coaching. Belichick is an ass, but he’s a great coach. The two conditions seem to synch up fairly often.

      The NFL is full of thugs. The game is played by extremely big, fast, strong young men who are spoiled beyond all reason (usually years before they enter the pros) for their abilities to inflict pain on other extremely big, fast, strong young men. Quite a high percentage of them probably never learn to behave like decent human beings. No question football is ruled by Mars. More than any other sport, really, football is Mars’ dominion. 11 is generally the same number of men as would fill out an infantry squad. It is also probably the most corporate sport. I have ambivilent feelings towards football for a number of reasons.

      I agree that the unfair economic balance in baseball salaries does go fairly far towards ruining major league baseball for me now. It has long since been absurd for Red Sox fans to complain about how much the Yankees spend. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the Yankees. And you are of course right that hating the Yankees does a lot to help keep the league going. But it was much more exciting before even 20 years ago when teams like the Pirates or Royals were able to put together championship caliber teams on a fairly regular basis.

      As far as the BCS, nobody but a very small cabal of people who get rich on the bowls thinks that is a credible alternative to a play-off. I don’t even really like basketball and I still tend to get caught up in March Madness. But big time college sports are the most crooked aspect of the corporate sports complex–a bunch of kids being exploited as free labor for millionaire coaches, media empires and global corporations.

      Briggs

      • thomasbrady said,

        December 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm

        Briggs,

        You listened to the game on the radio! How quaint. Only a real fan would listen to a football game on the radio.

        “I think there were five punts in OT of that game–it was a case of two of the leagues better teams cracking back and forth on each other.”

        Speaking of which, the Ravens made a long punt return into Pats’ territory in OT that was called back; it wasn’t a penalty by Baltimore; it was another Deus Ex Machina flag in favor of the New England.

        But I don’t want to belabor this; you argue well, you know your stuff, you’ve been a Pats fan since you were young, so I’ll leave you be. I don’t want to wear out my welcome on this issue. Besides, we agree on a great deal.

        I’m going to take a break and quit watching the NFL for a while. It doesn’t make me happy.

        For your sake, I wish the Pats do well.

        Life is short, and after all, it’s only a game.

        Yea, the Red Sox are looking like Steinbrenner’s Yanks these days. It’s too bad.

        Tom

  8. Marcus Bales said,

    December 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Hey, how about that Poetry Magazine?

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Poetry Magazine…I should do cover to cover review of their next issue. They are trying, I’ll give them that. Maybe their poetry isn’t that good, but their commentary and letters are somewhat lively.

      As for Harriet, the blog: they gather a lot of information, at least.


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