Alex Palmer, a frequent contributor to The Times, and an avid Boston sports fan, will be regularly posting about sports and more.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s the first public scandal in 40 years that has truly lived up to the original pot-boiler of 1974 that drove Nixon from office and made “gate” the suffix of doom. Watergate turned out be a bigger, more implausible soap opera than the real ones it replaced on daytime TV that summer. It was an irresistible tale of White House insiders and bungling CIA operators trying to subvert the very constitution itself. Every day brought new and stunning developments, rumors, testimony … and laughs.
Plus, Deflategate is pure entertainment, a real-life mini-series with daily plot twists that somehow manage to be very serious or very goofy. Even better, there are no facts to interfere with the fun. Or, to put it another way, every fact has an equal and opposite fact that makes the first fact not a fact. Right out of the chute, we were told that Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was suspicious about the ball after intercepting a Brady pass and gave it to a sideline official to be checked. But no. Jackson himself said he wanted the ball as a souvenir and tossed it to a sideline attendant to be put aside for him.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s pause for a look back. No one should be surprised at the bizarre situations the Patriots find themselves in. From their inception in 1960 this franchise has set high standards for lunacy that are hard to live up to, although they’ve certainly tried.
A tip-of-the-iceberg sampling: the Pats had no home field for ten years, and when they finally built one the plumbing was so bad that . . well, never mind. One head coach, Clive Rush, came within a few volts of electrocuting himself while being introduced to the media in 1969. Two other coaches, Fairbanks and Parcells, took their teams to the playoffs while negotiating with other teams on the side. Both teams got creamed and both coaches moved on. In the early 70’s, Pats linebacker Steve Kiner was so stoned he never moved on a play that came his way. On and on it goes.
So is it any wonder that the the Pats find themselves at the heart of a Watergate-type saga that is equal parts Shakespearean tragedy and Jimmy Fallonian monologue?
You have the king, Tom “Macbeth” Brady, a proud – perhaps flawed – man whose enemies conspire against him, a man who is driven by the will to win and whose kingdom – i.e. legacy – hangs in the balance. On his behalf, dark and dirty deeds are done in dank dungeons. (Or one of his vassals was just using the privy for 90 seconds. We really don’t know.)
Throw in the intricacies of air pressure, the skullduggery of Pats’ haters in Baltimore and Indianapolis, the Blind Man’s Bluff stewardship of NFL president Roger Goodell, the mis-handling of the Exhibit A footballs in the infamous Pats/Colts game, a long-awaited official report that only fans the flames . . and you have a giant mess that is not about to go away.
Exactly what we need to fill the void in our lives with the end of Mad Men. Think about it. Deflategate has everything Mad Men gave us: intrigue, revenge, conspiracy, plot twists, lying and cheating, back-stabbing, wealth and glamour. Sure, there’s no illicit sex . . but it’s only Season One!