Chicago’s South Side last autumn

By John Ruberry

Position wanted: Starting quarterback.

A dismal National Football League season will end tonight when between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots meet in the Super Bowl in Houston, after of course our national anthem is performed.

Oh, Da Tech Guy himself, a Patriots fan, may not agree of my “dismal” assessment. His team is in the Super Bowl, not mine, the Chicago Bears.

The Star Spangled Banner has been one of the major NFL stories this season, much to the chagrin to league brass because San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the anthem, which of course is performed before every game. A few members from roughly one-third of the other NFL teams followed his unpatriotic lead, along with some college and high school athletes. Kaepernick’s beef with the anthem is that he believes America stands for racial prejudice and police brutality, which are ideas you’ll find in the playbook of Black Lives Matters radicals, not the 49ers. Kaepernick, who is black but was raised by white parents, is a millionaire. Although NFL rules prohibit him from making it official until next month, Kaepernick will be a free agent next month, an ESPN reporter reported Friday. The timing is curious–I suspect that two days before the Super Bowl was chosen because of hyping of the game itself, and the revealing of the new NFL Hall of Fame inductees on Saturday, would bury the Kaepernick self-firing, as his anti-anthem, and yes, anti-America protests have been an embarrassment to the league.

TV ratings were down eight percent for the 2016 season, more so earlier on as the Kaepernick story was festering. While some liberal journalists chose to ignore the Kaepernick factor when reporting the ratings decline, pointing out that concerns over concussions, the lack of NFL star power, particularly in the first four weeks of the season when Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady was under suspension because of Deflategate, and viewers being more interested in the raucous presidential election were the real cause, an early October poll by Rasmussen found that nearly one-third of Americans said they’d be less likely to watch an NFL contest because of the anthem protests.

Soon the bidding war will begin for Kaepernick. Or maybe not. While he did take the 49ers to the Super Bowl four years ago, he performed poorly during his last two seasons; in 2016 Kaepernick was 1-10 as starter. I only watched him play once on television in ’16, on a snowy day against another rotten team, the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick completed just one pass out of five attempts with four yards gained. He was sacked five times.

The 49ers signed Kaepernick to win football games–not to be a radical.  The other 31 NFL teams will be looking to sign a winner as quarterback, not someone who gets sacked more times than the yards he passed for. Oh, some team will sign him, only because of his Super Bowl pedigree. But can Kaepernick survive training camp roster cuts?

NFL: Your long Colin Kaepernick nightmare may soon be over.

On a personal note, I will be rooting for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. I usually line up behind the NFC champion, but because Tom Brady is under attack by leftists for not backing out of his friendship with President Donald Trump, I am part of the Patriots Nation today. Go Pats!

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Today is superbowl sunday and while doing my best to ignore Lady Gaga and the other anti-Trump nonsense I can’t help but notice they seem to dominate the coverage, likely because most people don’t give Atlanta a chance.

Given both the history and the work ethic of the Patriots Dynasty this is not a fault likely shared by the team. They understand that in a single game anything can happen, furthermore they know that the Atlanta Offense is explosive and while the Atlanta Defense is not highly rated they were able to stop two Superbowl Champion quarterbacks in their last two games.

Despite these concessions I am picking the Patriots and the reason for that is not only their superior defense and the possession of the greatest quarterback in the history of the game, but I give the ultimate credit to Roger Goodell and deflategate.

Now I’m sure many of you are thinking that I’m referring to the revenge factor that is often the subject of stories and analysis from Rush Limbaugh on down. It’s no coincidence that the title on the Boston Herald epaper supplement on the game is titled This Time It’s Personal and to be sure that has provided some motivation for a Patriots team that frankly needs little motivation than the potential of a championship.

But Ironically Roger Goodell has (thanks to an able assist from the Patriots backups who went 3-1 during the Tom Brady suspension) given the New England Patriots the single most critical advantage in the game.

Football, despite having the shortest season of the 4 major American sports is by far the sport most conducive to injury. Every single play involves physical contact and being hit. By the end of the season its said that everyone is in pain, it’s just a question of how much. Thus if you can avoid taking repeated hits it can make a huge difference. Franco Harris might have taken grief by running out of bounds for example but as NFL.com puts it while naming him the 3rd best running back in playoff history

Harris totaled 1,556 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in the postseason. Those totals are second to only one other running back in NFL history (more on that guy later). Harris was a key component to the Steelers‘ dynasty, helping the team to four Super Bowl championships.

In Super Bowl IX, Harris rushed for 158 yards and a TD. He was named Super Bowl MVP. Harris also ran for 343 yards in that playoff stretch. That was a Steelers‘ record for rushing yards in a single postseason, until it was broken just this year by Le’Veon Bell. It’s clear that regardless of what is thought about his running style, Harris was a monster in the playoffs.

It’s also worth noting that in a 1996 profile the Baltimore sun noted that Harris was “without the disabilities of many former pro football players”, I suspect his avoidance of unnecessary hits had a lot to do with that.

Now Consider Tom Brady.  while he is a dedicated, one might even say obsessive when it comes to conditioning the fact remains that he is 39 years old, an age where the vast majority of players have been safely retired rather than putting impossible numbers (28 TD vs 2 Int this season) playing for their fifth ring in seven tries and finishing 2nd in the MVP vote to his opposite number Matt Ryan of the Falcons.

Brady may be spotting  Matt Ryan 8 years and the MVP award but thanks to Roger Goodell Brady has one thing that Matt Ryan does not:  Four extra games / weeks of rest, four weeks of not getting hit by opposing linemen, four weeks of not being chased out of the pocket and four weeks of not hitting the ground hard.  Brady is four weeks fresher, four weeks stronger and four weeks less in pain.

Furthermore thanks to the suspension both of his backups have been tested by fire and rest assured if something happens and Brady goes down you can be sure Bill Belichick will be ready with an offensive scheme designed for Jimmy Garoppolo’s strengths based just on practice but on game experience against actual NFL competition.

None of this is possible without Roger Goodell’s over the top excessive punishment of Brady and the Patriots for their Deflategate sins, so if Brady, Belichick and Robert Kraft take the podium as I suspect they will, they should thank Roger Goodell for making sure their 39 year old QB was one month fresher than the other guy.

9-23-2016

From Roger Goodell Commissioner NFL

To : Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett et/al

Subj: Many Thanks

Hello:

Wanted to drop you a quick line of thanks for your 3-0 start this season in general and your 27-0 thumping of the Houston Texans in particular.

As you may have heard for the 2nd week in a row our ratings are down. Furthermore a new a Yahoo Poll shows 44% of Americans say they are likely to shut off NFL games if player protests continue.

These results meant that it was very likely that all of the Friday sports shows on TV and radio would have been discussing both the ratings and this poll, particularly given the events in Charlotte this week.

However the fine play of Jimmy Garoppolo in weeks 1 & 2 and his subsequent injury forcing you to play Rookie Jacoby Brissett vs Miami and his Subsequent start against the Texans provided a welcome topic for discussion for NFL fans everywhere, particularly given Mr. Belichick’s decision to not sign an experienced QB to back him up.

Furthermore young Mr. Brissett’s fine play complemented by excellent defense giving the Patriots a 27-0 victory in a game where the Texans were favored by 2, his injury and the subsequent quarterback controversies on who to start for week 4 vs Buffalo and the potential of a completely unanticipated QB controversy on starting Brady week five if the team goes 4-0 without him has the potential to completely change the conversation everywhere.

I must confess that while my intentions toward your franchise were completely punitive your teams ability to completely confound me and the rest of the league that wanted to bring you down has come at precisely the right time for all of us who are desperate to protect our high profits and subsequent high paychecks from the possibility of the fans figuring out there are other alternatives out there.

Once again keep up the good work.

Sincerely

Roger Goodell
Commissioner NFL

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto: I had intended to deal a fatal blow to the American Fleet by attacking Pearl Harbour immediately after Japan’s declaration of war, but according to American radio, Pearl Harbour was attacked fifty-five minutes before our ultimatum was delivered to Washington. I can’t imagine anything that would infuriate the Americans more. I fear all that we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

Tora Tora Tora 1970

This week the New England Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans to go to 12-2 clinching a first round bye in the playoffs with two games to go.  The Titans fell to 3-11.

New England Started 10-0 and it was generally agreed that the whole “deflategate” scandal had motivated the already formidable patriot to the point where they pretty much wanted to punish the rest of the league to the point where even an incredible assortment of injuries were not enough to stop them.

But the passage of time, the reality of how hard it is to win every game in  the NFL, and even more injuries finally took their toll and the Patriot managed to lose two in a row before returning to their winning ways last week vs Houston and again vs a young & weak Tennessee team.

For all of their renewed success it looked very much like the Pats had managed to prove their point , the anger was gone and the only motivation left would be the normal desire to win.  That in itself has made the Patriot formattable enough for this this team to 6 superbowls in 15 years.

And then the NFL does this:

NFL Reportedly Tested PSI Of Footballs From Patriots-Titans Game

Now on twitter, it’s claimed that this is random.

But given the game (one that the Patriots were expected to easily win) the headline at Drudge:

STING: NFL Tests Air Levels In Footballs Used In PATRIOTS Game…

and the chip that had already been on the Patriots shoulders most of the year, and the deflategate conversations that it is going to revive I can’t think of anything that could happen that would infuriate Patriots fans who don’t trust the league and Patriots players who already think the NFL’s goal this year is to stop them and Tom Brady the best quarterback in the history of the game who normally need no motivation to win other than a desire to do so.

Congratulations NFL, you have for the second time this year awoken the sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve that will be taken out out on every team they face beginning with the NY Jets this weekend.

One should never get ahead of oneself when it comes to the playoffs but if you are a Carolina fan and claimed you weren’t worried about facing the Patriots in the Superbowl, you should be now.

When you hear the name “Gaylord Perry” the first word that might come to mind is “Spitball”. However you might be surprised to know that in his entire 22 year major league that saw him win two Cy Young awards strike out over 3000 men and take the mound 777 times it wasn’t till his penultimate season that he was ejected for doctoring a baseball despite every umpire in the league watching him.

However as much as Perry was known for the spitball his very reputation put every single batter he faced on the defensive. All Perry had to do is go through the motions and the hitter was frozen.

Reading the latest ESPN report

In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve. At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.

But the truth is, only one man truly knows how much Spygate, or any other suspect method, affected games: Belichick.

and Rush Limbaugh’s coverage of the Patriots and the NFL

Now, I don’t know how anybody gets some low-level schlub sneaking in an NFL locker room without a lot of people being in on it. That’s just hard to do, and my point is I really question this. Baseball is different. At least it was. I have some experience at this when I worked for the Kansas City Royals, but still it was tough. And if it was discovered that somebody from the other team is in there — I don’t care how low on the totem pole they were — it would have been a huge scandal.

The person would have been kicked out. There would have been holy hell raised over it. The other thing is the play sheet. This first 20 plays? Not every team does that. Some teams’ head coach scripts the first 20 plays for his own offense no matter what. They’re gonna do those 20 plays no matter what the situation is. They’re gonna run those 20 plays because it’s strategically been put together and they’re gonna learn how the defense operates in those 20 plays and those first two set up the rest of the game.

Not all teams do it. But I can guarantee you that no head coach would leave it laying around for some schlub from the other team to walk in and pilfer. You know, they’re kept in laminated folders to protect from the elements from rain and this kind of thing. They’re just not pieces of paper. It’s 8.5X11, color-coded. You’ve seen the head coach holding these things if you’ve noticed coaches on the sideline watching these things.

…it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.

None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.

But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.

I was at a local restaurant last night and all the talk was about the 4 game suspension given to Tom Brady over Deflategate.

In one respect it really doesn’t matter for Brady, HOF Baseball player Gaylord Perry who was known to bend a rule or two in his day put it best:

“They’d have to be a little bit smarter about it,” Perry told Sporting News Thursday morning. “But they got away with it during the game and won, so that’s all that matters.”

Given that this is football rather than something that actually matters like the upcoming election or baseball I was actually thinking about giving the whole topic a miss but it hit me that the NFL rather than hurting Brady & the Pats has actually done them a big favor.

Consider the following facts:

First of all Tom Brady is 37 years old, while he is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history even the greatest gets old and the toll of 15 seasons of getting hit has to have a cumulative effect on a body.

Second of all the Patriots are a pragmatic bunch of folks, they understand Brady is getting older and need to start considering who might be replacing him down the line.

Third of all how do you motivate a man who is:

1. Married to a Supermodel
2. Has all the money he will ever need
3. Has all already been to six superbowls and won 4

That’s why this suspension will do wonders for everybody.

Tom Brady’s 37 year old Body gets an extra month of not being hit that the rest of the league’s quarterbacks will not get.  While that might not seem a big deal in say week 7 or 8 come week 15 or 16 that’s the type of thing that can pay huge dividends particularly for an older player.

The Patriots will now get a chance to see if they have a potential long term replacement for Brady on their Roster. This had to be checked sooner or later so now they have an excuse without waiting for an injury or risking offense to a team icon & start.  If they are a bust, they you have a healthy & rested Brady ready to go, and if they’re not then you now have either

1.   A game tested backup for Brady the rest of the year

2.  The Greatest QB of all time available as needed during the season

Furthermore Brady now has been given two huge incentives to have a monster year

1.   Brady will want to remind New England that no matter how good a potential replacement plays HE is the star of the team (Don’t think for one second that he’s forgotten that he got his chance because of an injury to star QB Drew Bledsoe).

2.  Brady, already a competitive man, knows a lot of people are pointing to him & calling him a cheater and not in the friendly oh shucks Gaylord Perry way.  There is nothing he would like better than to turn those smiles and grins into frowns and groans of pain by adding a 5th ring to his collection.

So if you are an NFL East team or a Patriots hater I suggest you enjoy the first four weeks of the season as best you can because I would not want to be playing the patriots anytime after week 7. Barring a young Phenom pulling a Wally Pip on him  I suspect what Brady will be doing to opposing defenses will not be pretty.

You have been warned.