Last Wednesday I had every intention of putting the finishing touches on my “Best Books I Read in 2014” post and publishing it for all of you to see. But when I sat down to do just that, I couldn’t concentrate. My head was all wrapped up in football and DeflateGate. I wasn’t sure if I would post anything or not, but I spent the rest of the morning writing off and on, coming back to the computer in between folding laundry, washing dishes, and throwing together the week’s grocery list. By lunchtime I had a letter written to Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL. I re-read it a few more times, made some edits here and there, and hit “publish.” I threw the link up on Twitter and Facebook, and went on with my day.
Something crazy happened in between then and now. I’ve been writing about everything under the sun, football included, in this space for nearly 9 years. Sometimes it’s just the crickets chirping, and sometimes there’s chatter. But never in a million years would I have imagined just how many voices would emerge from one little post.
That letter to Mr. Goodell was shared over 1,000 times on my Facebook posts alone, and reached nearly 100,000 people. Over 200 of you commented on Facebook, and another 90 commented directly on the blog. I had so much traffic in the first 24 hours to Just Like The Number that my server crashed. Even with my site being down for most of a day, I’ve had more page views in a few days than I get in months. I appeared on the local news and was interviewed by a local radio host.
Clearly, I touched a nerve.
I took the weekend to process it all, and tried to keep up as best I could with comments and emails. Now I thought I’d take a few minutes and address a few themes that came up time and time again in regards to the topic.
How can you smear the Patriots when nothing has even been proven?
I sincerely hope my post didn’t come across as a smear piece on the New England Patriots. It’s true, as a Colts fan, they are not my favorite team. I’ve always said I root for the Colts first, then the Broncos, and then whoever is playing the Patriots. But I have a healthy amount of respect for the players and coaches on that team. They’re ridiculously good and have been for a long time. And I’m not boneheaded enough to think that they’re only that good because of dubious practices. No, they’re just an excellent football team.
I refuse to go back and edit things I’ve already written (other than for typos), because I think that takes away from the feeling the piece was meant to be written with. The only thing I wish I had included was that these are, of course, allegations of cheating. The Patriots are under investigation, and nothing has been proven. The intent of my letter, though, was to implore Mr. Goodell and the NFL to investigate thoroughly. These things take time, and I want it to take time. I want it done well. I’ll withhold final judgement until the investigation is complete. And believe me, nothing will make me happier than finding out this was some kind of freak incident without any malicious intent.
It does bring up another topic which the kids and I have discussed, and one that I think is yet another teachable moment from this debacle. Would people have been so quick to make judgement or call for extreme punishment if this had been another team? I’m not so sure. Right or wrong, because the Patriots were fined and punished for Spygate a few years ago, they are immediately under an aura of suspicion. As a parent, I talked to the kids about how easy it is to earn a reputation, deserved or not. If you cheat or get caught in a lie, it sticks with you. You might be the most honest, ethical person around after that, but there will be people who will always distrust you. A reputation is easy to soil, but very hard to clear.
You’re just upset because the Colts lost. Get over it.
I’ve thought a lot about this. Would I have been as fired up if we’d lost the week before and this was the Broncos instead? I think so. I love football. Ask around. I watch several games each week, follow teams and players that aren’t the Colts. I’m not some crazy, bandwagon fan. If this is true, it affects the integrity of the game, and I will get fired up about that. Someone in the comments did suggest we would’ve lost if we were playing with watermelons, though, and now I can’t stop thinking about how awesome that would be. Rematch!
Where were you when your owner got pulled over for a DUI? Or during the Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson scandal? If you can ignore that, but get worked up over this, then your priorities are WAY out of whack.
As far as Mr. Irsay’s behavior goes, that falls in line with how I feel about the various transgressions that NFL players commit each season. The NFL cannot control the behavior of individual players or league employees. What one player does off the field doesn’t affect the actual play of the game. Do I approve? Absolutely not. But as I wrote, I can use those moments as opportunities for discussion and point out consequences these people received for breaking the law or the rules. Mr. Irsay was suspended 6 games and fined $500,000. Mr. Rice and Mr. Peterson are not playing football. I think if you re-read my post, you’ll see that I never said sexual assault and domestic violence weren’t serious issues, or that I think this issue trumps them in any way. We have had many conversations about Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jim Irsay. I simply said this one is different, because it’s an issue my kids can relate to. My kids have not been personally exposed, thank God, to domestic violence, sexual assault or drug abuse. But they do face situations every day, just as we adults do, when the temptation to cheat is presented.
None of us are forced to support the NFL, and we all have to make our own judgement calls on what we deem appropriate to condone and support in our own personal lives. To me, the situations are not apples to apples, but I understand that others don’t see it that way. I’m not telling anyone else how they should feel about this situation or what they should do. I’m just expressing my own sentiments. They resonate with some, and fall flat with others, and that’s okay.
Have you heard from Roger Goodell?
Nope. I hear he’s pretty busy lately.
We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming here at Just Like The Number very, very soon (I know you’re all DYING to know what my favorite books were). I can’t thank you enough for all the likes, shares, comments and emails on this particular topic. Many of you agree with me, and that was very cool to see. Many of you didn’t, but you put forth your points with respect and civility, and you made me look at the issue from another perspective. You guys are awesome, no matter which team you root for.