A greater percentage of Americans voted for Donald Trump than want the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Yet jock journalists invoke the team’s quarterback’s association with the president as a reason to root against them.
Do they want more fans to like the most hated team in football?
Barry Petchesky writes at Deadspin:
I’m so, so sick of Brady’s “Who, what, me?” routine, even as he was used as a prop throughout Trump’s campaign. Let’s be clear: Under ordinary circumstances, athletes’ politics are their own, and they shouldn’t be expected to have to explain them more than anyone else. But that goes two ways. These are extraordinary circumstances—unprecedented, history-altering circumstances—and the country feels like it’s coming apart. Right now, it’s not enough for the Trump supporter around the corner to explain his support with a shrug, and it’s not okay for a famous one to grin and smirk because Durr, Donald’s my friend.
People hate Tom Brady because he wins and their team doesn’t, because they imagine he acquired his Super Bowl rings through James Bond tactics, because he married a supermodel, because he makes more money in a weekend than they do in a year, because his politeness masks a predator, and, primarily, just because. Fans, an abbreviation for “fanatics,” behave horribly but not irrationally. You can predict their behavior. A fan of the Steelers or Ravens or Jets likely hates Tom Brady. Some fans of Hillary Clinton strangely do too.
This intolerant, total-politics mindset looks a lot like the single-minded lunacy that one sees in soccer hooligans or your average Oakland Raiders fan. One gives the cockney-accented, one-punch artist who drinks Guinness for breakfast and that guy on leave from American Gladiators wearing Road Warrior Animal’s shoulder pads and black-and-silver face paint a pass because sports fandom works as an escape. When politics plays as your escape, there is no escape—it devours everything, including who you root for on fall Sundays.
Brady didn’t vote for George Lincoln Rockwell or Gus Hall. He voted for the winning candidate. Before he explains anything, shouldn’t the Ricky Ricardos saying Brady “got some ‘splaining to do” explain, why, precisely, he “got some ‘splaining to do”? He neither campaigned for Trump nor offered a clear endorsement. He placed a red “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker and repeatedly punted when pressed to explain his support (a winner knows a no-win situation when he sees one) for an old friend. Presumably, he voted for a candidate that some people really, really didn’t like. But isn’t it the case that every voter in every presidential election voted for a candidate that some people really, really didn’t like?
Other writers make points similar to Petchesky’s, and a reporter asked Brady about Trump during Monday’s media day. But as the quarterback approaches the biggest game of the year, the journalists miss the circus for the sideshow. The State of the Union plays on every channel and nobody watches. The Super Bowl plays on one channel and everybody watches. The game interests everybody but the people professionally obligated to show interest in it. Advice from Brady’s coach applies here: Do your job.
But some writers see their job as world saver instead of word scribbler. Petchesky wants Brady to say sorry for not voting for his favored candidate:
I don’t know what I personally want to hear from Tom Brady now. An apology would be ideal. Owning up to his support of Trump would be respectable, at least on a level where he shows he comprehends what any of this means. But to throw off the questions altogether, especially with some glib shit about being a positive person, is more than I can bear. A dumb rich guy supporting Donald Trump as a person is understandable. I believe it still makes Brady a dreadful person, bereft of empathy or of brains. But refusing to even acknowledge his support, or just the very clear and human reasons for the widespread criticism of that support, makes Brady a coward.
A dreadful, dumb coward? Bereft of brains? It takes intelligence to read defenses. To stand upright in the pocket as Jadeveon Clowney or James Harrison breathe down your neck takes courage, particularly at 39. But more germane to this conversation, supporting Trump in a roomful of reporters who hate him appears as anything but a cowardly act. One gets a pat on the back when repeating back to the press what they want to hear. Bucking the Fourth Estate, even through a tepid display such as strategically placing a hat in one’s locker, takes guts.
Nobody judges Petchesky by how far he can throw a football. Why judge Tom Brady for his politics? That’s a category mistake that says next to nothing about the quarterback but everything about the warped mentality of people who politicize apolitical activities. Like a lot of lazy writing, Petchesky’s piece shows us nothing as it tells the author’s view. It’s about Petchesky, not Brady. Some impulse drives him to declare his political outlook—on a sports site.
Tom Brady is the best quarterback in NFL history. Barry Petchesky is the best writer at Deadspin when everybody calls in sick.