NFL Journalism: Where Balls Matter More than Women, Children, and Brains

The New England Patriots are worse than Hitler. That is, if you believe the overwhelming negativity directed at the Patriots within the past week. The reasoning behind this: after last Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Colts, reports surfaced of an investigation against the Patriots with regards to ball inflation. This basically means that the Patriots are being ACCUSED of cheating. Not a game-determining cheat mind you, nothing as serious as that, but still – cheating is cheating and the integrity (scoff, excuse me) of the NFL sport must be protected. I don’t mean to undermine what the Patriots MIGHT have done. Cheating is cheating and, IF found guilty – they should face appropriate consequences. “Deflategate” as it has come to be called, has called back into question much more serious issues of integrity, however, in my mind at least. The integrity of major sports journalism is under question… and it might be doing worse than the Patriots.

Even with the ball deflated, players (Colts and Patriots) agree that it had little-to-no impact on the game.
Even with the ball deflated, players (Colts and Patriots) agree that it had little-to-no impact on the game.

This article will focus primarily on ESPN and Sports Illustrated, two of the larger and more trusted sources of sports journalism in America – and specifically their handling of the DEVELOPING Deflategate situation.

The Patriots are not liked around the nation. One does not have to look far to find evidence of this. Part of the hatred has foundation. In 2007, the New England Patriots were found guilty in Spygate, essentially cheating by recording more signals than they were supposed to from the other team. Were they the only culprit of this: probably not, but still – cheating is cheating and I, as a New England Patriots fan, found the punishment fair. No one is above the rules.

The New England Patriots cheated 8 years ago. This does not make all current and future allegations against them immediately true.
The New England Patriots cheated 8 years ago. This does not make all current and future allegations against them immediately true.

Part of the hatred comes from something else though: the Patriots are a good football team. No, that’s an understatement. They are a great football team. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady might be the best coach-quarterback combo in the history of the game. I don’t say that just as a fan, there are numbers to support this.

Okay, cool – the Pats rock, how does this matter? Well, sports journalism is made up partly of former players: people who have played largely within the past ten years… also known as: a lot of people the Patriots beat. If you think this does not matter, if you think that athletes and former athletes do not have huge egos – you are fooling yourself. So right away, the POTENTIAL exists for bias. I am not going to accuse anyone of anything without evidence…

Want some evidence?

Let’s talk about Jerome Bettis, an excellent former player who now does analysis for ESPN. I have zero issue on Bettis reporting facts. Here is a link to his video discussing the Ray Rice incident, which occurred at the beginning of the season. Wow, okay – he is very supportive. Granted, all the facts were not known at that time but he appears to be approaching the situation with an open mind. Cool…

Here he is on the Deflategate INVESTIGATION:

Holy f*ck. What happened to the calm, thoughtful, contemplative Bettis that we saw earlier? Patriots are known felons? Sir, even by the loftiest of standards: the Patriots have never broken the law. Rules, yes – but not law. These are both videos taken from (at the time) ongoing investigations. One is about balls being properly inflated, one is about a woman being beaten unconscious. Excuse me for saying but: your passion appears misplaced.

Now let’s talk about Michael Rosenberg, a New York journalist who writes for Sports Illustrated. Rosenberg has a past of putting things in perspective. He fairly called out and condemned the handling of the Adrian Peterson situation from earlier in the year. Rosenberg has struck me as an intelligent and thoughtful journalist, but one of his articles goes much too far. I would bother to tear apart the piece he wrote on the Patriots after INITIAL REPORTS of Deflategate surfaced, but someone else beat me to it. Journalism is not about reporting thoughts, or rumors, or making wild accusations based on what you read on the Internet. That’s what blogging is for. Journalism is about reporting the facts. Judgement is left to others. There is not one fact in Rosenberg’s list of wild accusations against New England, and yet this was posted on a very reputable sports site.

The rush to judgement has caused many Patriots' fans to tune out the allegations, or make fun of them completely.
The rush to judgement has caused many Patriots’ fans to tune out the allegations, or make fun of them completely.

Okay, back to ESPN. Over the past week, I have seen headlines like “Don’t Believe Brady” (later changed to “Hard to Believe Brady”). Again this gives the impression that the Patriots have already been found guilty. The have not. In fact, if you’re wondering why I haven’t gone more into the facts of the case, it is because they keep changing. I will get to that in a sec, but I wanted to draw attention to one more fun article from ESPN first.

This one.

Let me be beyond clear: truth is not an opinion. It never has, nor never will be influenced by the common consensus. So why does this article exist? Maybe to show that around the world, people are not taking the Patriots at their word? Hard to believe that ESPN readers wouldn’t trust them after reading headlines like those I just mentioned.

The point is that the coverage has been horrible. Want the facts of the case? Colts defensive player D’Qwell Jackson DEFINITIVELY started the investigation into the possibility of deflated balls… until he didn’t. Bill Belichick was DEFINITELY the mastermind behind the cheating… until it was (and currently is) DEFINITELY Tom Brady. With all this disbelief going around – against the Patriots, against the NFL, it seems that no one is levying it against the people who are reporting the news. What is going on? How do we even know there was ever a scandal and not some accident?

During his press conference, Tom Brady denied all involvement in the SUPPOSED scandal. He was then asked several times if he was sorry. HE JUST SAID HE DIDN'T DO IT!
During his press conference, Tom Brady denied all involvement in the SUPPOSED scandal. He was then asked several times if he was sorry. HE JUST SAID HE DIDN’T DO IT!

Let’s say (and this is just a scenario based on known facts): 36 balls were inflated for the game, 11 of them came out below the guidelines. Tom Brady, being the hometown quarterback gets first pick. Brady, who has already stated his liking of under-inflated balls, chooses those he feels least inflated (not knowing that it is below league regulation). Then Andrew Luck chooses, then the remaining 12 go to special teams. Saying this happens is admitting that NFL officials made a mistake (hard to believe I know, especially in this playoff season). But it is just that: a mistake. Doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as a cheating scandal, but this may be the truth.

“Things are going to be fine — this isn’t ISIS, no one’s dying.” Tom Brady said this and it is a fair point. This isn't even Baltimore or Minnesota: where actual crimes happened.
“Things are going to be fine — this isn’t ISIS, no one’s dying.”
Tom Brady said this and it is a fair point. This isn’t even Baltimore or Minnesota: where actual crimes happened.

The truth that does not appear to matter since the Patriots were found guilty by the media on day one. Come on guys, we get that you don’t like us. I don’t like the Yankees, the (New York) Giants, or either of the Manning brothers – but I would never call any of them cheaters without all the facts.

For anyone wondering: the NFL is currently finding a hard time linking the deflated balls to any purposeful wrongdoing. Doesn’t matter, ESPN and Sports Illustrated have already ensured that the Patriots reputation has suffered. Guilty until proven innocent… and if innocent then conspiracy. Hey journalists, I know you might take offense from a Patriots-fan and internet blogger telling you this… but do your jobs.

The appropriate punishment, as long ago determined by the NFL, is a $25,000 fine by the way… in case anyone was wondering. Rules should not ever be broken… but you can kill someone or you can go 5 miles over the speed limit. This is the latter.


The NFL Clusterf*ck: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Abuse

Warning: the following post contains disturbing images and video.


Can you tell another human being how to live their life? Do you have the right? What makes a good person and a bad person?

For the past few weeks, the NFL (National Football League) has made headlines. Regrettably, football has not been involved. First came the Ray Rice scandal. For those of you who do not know, Baltimore Ravens receiver Ray Rice entered an elevator with his then-fiancé (they are now married), Janay. Then, this happened:

No charges were filed and the NFL suspended Rice for two games. Then, that video was released and Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Rice has recently appealed his suspension, and his wife Janay continues to insist that the media has blown the entire thing out of proportion.

Actual Instagram response from Rice’s wife.

Due to their reluctant and forced handling of the issue, the NFL became swamped in scandal, with many feeling that Commissioner Roger Goodell must resign for his involvement in attempting to swipe what happened under the rug. For the record: the Ray Rice scandal was not the only one going on at this point, simply the one involving the most famous player. For a few weeks, Rice was the name on everyone’s lips in regards to the NFL.

Then Adrian Peterson happened.

Peterson was arrested and charged for beating his four year old son with a tree branch. Peterson also allegedly stuffed leaves into the child’s mouth to prevent him from screaming. Below are the photos taken ONE WEEK after the beating took place (I do not have to say ‘alleged’ as Peterson has already admitted to doing it).

abuseToday, Peterson as been activated by the Minnesota Vikings. He is expected to fully participate and play, while receiving his complete salary.


I felt I could not say any of that while being my usual smug, cheeky self. Again, I will mention that these are not the only two problem players in the NFL. These scandals have raised a lot of questions. Many have to do with morality and social responsibility.

“Don’t tell me how to live my life!”

This is a philosophy that many individuals in “free” countries adhere to. Indeed, what is the point of freedom without the ability to choose what kind of life to lead? If we are to go by the words and opinions of Janay and Ray Rice, than the world (through the media) has intruded on their privacy and their right to live. To hear Janay speak, theirs is a complicated love that only they can understand, and the rest of the world is rushing to ruin what a good thing they have.

Adrian Peterson is trying to discipline his child. At least that’s what people like Charles Barkley and many others think. Don’t tell him how to raise his kid. Don’t tell Ray and Janay how to live their lives.


I had one professor in my time at University who was brilliant. He gave me an essential lesson that I will not forget and that I believe applies here: Some opinions are wrong. Is everyone entitled to a point of view – absolutely. Is that point of view immediately valid and equal to all others – not a chance in hell. In this era of understanding, I feel that society is in danger of losing a crucial truth. Sometimes people are full of sh*t.

There is NO defense for people like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. I am not saying they are monsters, but I am saying that they each committed a crime that is indefensible. In what scenario is it okay for an NFL athlete to strike an unarmed woman? Or for a father to brutally beat his child with a tree branch? There is none. The discussion ends there. For any saying, “it is a cultural difference, or they probably learned it from their parents”. Please listen to Cris Carter below:

He is absolutely right. Never once in history has “well that’s how it used to be done” been a valid reason to prevent enlightenment. Progress means change and it means growth and we have overall grown as a society. Any individuals out there who use their upbringing as an excuse for their actions – that is the immature response of a child. We live in an age with actual unlimited access to education. It is called the internet and its greatest power is its ability to collect and pool all human knowledge. Does it pool other crap, sure – but the fact remains.

No one forced Rice or Peterson to behave that way. They made the decision, the decision to continue vicious cycles that probably began much earlier in their lives. That decision was wrong, and both of them were wrong for doing it. Their athletic ability should not and does not matter. Ray Rice is a miserable excuse for a partner and Adrian Peterson has a hell of a lot to learn about being a father.

As for Janay, it is a tragic truth that many abuse victims justify their mistreatment. She is wrong as well. Her opinion and view of her relationship come off as nothing more than a horrible fantasy that the rest of the world recognizes for the farce it is.

People have the right to ruin their own lives. That right ends the moment another person becomes involved. Adrian Peterson didn’t hurt himself – he savagely beat a four year old boy. Ray Rice punched his wife in the face. I sincerely hope that that relationship does not create children.

People have the right to ruin their own lives, until another person becomes involved. Fun fact about society is that everyone is interconnected. No one has the right to waste a life because it always matters to someone else. Actions like these are not defensible. This is not a debate on morality. The human race is sadly gifted at self-justification.

No one likes being blamed and everyone out there can come up with an excuse for practically anything. As a species, we have been able to justify such atrocities as slavery, the Holocaust, and repressing human rights. People do not want to be labeled as “bad people.” The horrible truth is that bad people do not exist. Neither do good people. There are just people, and people have the choice to do what they will. In their mind, that action will always be good (if not immediately than after much rationalization and self-justification).

But this is the 21st century. People need to grow up and be held accountable for their actions. Not every scenario has two valid sides. Abuse is wrong. Period.

Let’s hope the NFL does not let profits stand in the way of humanity. Actually no, let’s not hope for that. Let’s hold people responsible for their actions. Let’s stop rationalizing and take a stand. We’re human beings – let’s act like it.

"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury." That's his mugshot, by the way.
“I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury.”
That’s his mugshot, by the way.