By Jack McLoone
First of all, let me tell you a story: On Feb, 1, 2004, Adam Vinateri drilled a 41-yard field goal to give the New England Patriots their second Super Bowl victory in three years, a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers. Sitting in his living room in New Jersey that fateful night, I, a six-year-old Jack McLoone, had a new favorite team. Was I a front-runner? Yes. Should I still be considered one? Probably, but I also don’t really care. 11 years into my fandom, I’ve heard it all.
Why do I bring this up? Because Thursday was the cherry on top of my Super Bowl Sundae (get it?), with Tom Brady’s four game suspension for “Deflategate”/“Ballghazi”/“The Dumbest NFL Story of All Time” being overturned in court.
Living in New Jersey, I’m naturally surrounded by both Jets and Giants fans, the two teams with the biggest beef with the Patriots. But coming off of a win in my personal favorite game of all time, their Super Bowl win over the Seahawks, nothing could bring me down. I even watched the David Tyree catch the next day without dry heaving. So when high-and-mighty Roger Goodell decided to levy the suspension on Brady on top of taking away draft picks from and fining the Patriots for their role in allegedly “knowingly” deflating footballs below the allowable level during their AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, I was okay. For one thing, I was certain that it wouldn’t hold up when Brady decided to appeal his suspension to federal court. Also, I knew in my mind that slightly deflated footballs didn’t matter, and let the masses know.
Now, he will be back for Week 1. And I still hear every day, “Oh, the Patriots can only win if they cheat,” or “Well, they still can’t beat the Giants,” or “Brady wears Ugg boots,” or “Bill Belicheat.” But you know what? I want to hear that. The only superstition more powerful than the “No One Believes In Us” boost is the “Everyone Hates Us Cause They Ain’t Us” boost.
So when Brady is receiving the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 50, flashing an evil grin at Dictator Goodell, just know that it’s your fault. Yes, you, Jets fans and Giants fans. Yes, you, Ravens and Colts fans. Yes, you, Ted Wells. And especially you, Roger Goodell. You should never count out Touchdown Tom, and definitely don’t give him more motivational ammunition to rip apart the NFL.
On Friday, Brady released a statement on Facebook apologizing to fans of all teams for the protracted fight against the NFL for Deflategate. What he should have slipped in at the end was “Oh, I’m also sorry for the absolute lack of mercy I’m going to show all of your favorite teams en route to a true undefeated season.” Because these court proceedings were not, at the end of the day, about preserving Brady’s “legacy,” but a direct attack on the despot-like powers at be in the NFL. No matter how much you want to hate Tom Brady, he will embrace it when he has, at the end of the day, helped contribute to the diminishing of the NFL’s unmitigated power, while also paving the way for what could be the best conclusion to a sports story of all time.
Keep hating Tom Brady. I’ll talk to you after the fifth Super Bowl ring.