Tom Brady and Deflategate: A Never Ending Story….

…because it contains numerous elements that make it endlessly debatable.

I was mistaken in my previous post about this event being blown out of proportion.   Its proportion fits the degree the NFL has become blown out of proportion, i. e. they have been super successful at marketing football as the biggest, best game in town.   And this is a society increasingly made surreal through ongoing overdoses in gaming – TV contests that dwindle “survivors” down to one,  sporting events galore, and an explosion in on-line gaming and violent video games that allow players to become heroes in their own minds.

In today’s parlance, the NFL has  developed a wonderful brand name for its game which makes anything that detracts from its positive image akin to a sin.    Radical terrorists have the prophet and the Koran that are sacred, the NFL has its shield insignia.  “Protect the shield” is their slogan.

Anything that diminishes the glowing image is bad for the NFL and must be punished.  We’ve seen a lot of tarnishing over the past several months, what with the spate of domestic violence cases involving players, not to mention drug related incidents or other evidence of un-Boy Scout behavior.  Recent attention to brain injuries suffered by the players also tarnishes.

Lacking the clear rules and punishments of a legal system, the NFL’s version of a king or high priest, commissioner Roger Goodell has devised arbitrary punishments on a case by case basis, each of which is hard to defend vis-a-vis each other……  How many game suspensions for “more likely than not” being aware of football air pressure tampering as compared to, say, knocking your wife out in an elevator on camera?  (the punishment was less prior to the public viewing of the camera shot)

Smashing one’s spouse in the face is a crime in society compared to which deflating a football a little pales in significance, but in a gaming world whatever casts doubt upon the integrity of the game, that is a bigger concern.  (What if it was revealed that the cast of Survivor were allowed hot showers and cold drinks between takes?)

Conflate this all and Tom Brady gets a stiff punishment not so much for what he more likely than not was aware of, but because he is the poster boy of the sport, the uber Boy Scout.  Hence the ultimate sinner if caught for some wrongdoing.  That along with his boss Robert Kraft being kind of a buddy to Roger Goodell, while the team has been penalized for breaking the rules on a previous occasion, spy gate in 2007, has prompted the commissioner to ere on the side of harshness rather than hand slaps so as to bolster the image of NFL integrity.

Fine for the commish, who wants to restore the league’s tarnished image, but Patriot’s owner Kraft doesn’t want the achievements of his QB and the organization itself tarnished by that punishment, so this thing is going to go on and on, probably through the courts at some point.

And if it gets to the courts, the standard of “more likely than not” seems paltry enough for Brady to outright win.

No matter how it sorts out, my guess is that the Patriots will be especially tough to play next year as they will be in crusade mode to prove they deserve their past achievements despite the accusations.  Super Bowl winners don’t repeat often, but crusade mode could help the Patriot’s chances a lot.

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By the way……

In case I didn’t make it clear above, I think deflate gate became such an inflated topic because of a confluence of factors and events.   Lost in all of that is why it should be an issue at all.   Here are a couple of articles that help illuminate that aspect:

In this one, Andy Benoit makes the case there shouldn’t even be a ball inflation rule.  And this article features the opinions of former quarterbacks on the question of ball inflation, including Joe Theismann stating:  “I asked our equipment guy to pump one football up to 13 pounds per square inch and another to 11 psi,” Theismann told USA TODAY Sports. “I wanted to physically handle the footballs and see if I could tell a difference in them. And I couldn’t.”

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“Blind Sided: How ISIS Shook the World” on CNN Tonight

If you looked for the TV show listed in the title in a previous post, you know it was preempted by the protests and riots in Baltimore.  It is rescheduled to air on CNN tonight at 9 EDT and PDT (other time zones must fend for yourselves).   However, I do notice in San Diego, it will be aired at 6 and 9, so check out your local listings.   If you have been wondering what the draw of ISIS in Syria is for thousands of budding jihadists, and what life is like in ISIS controlled territories this show looks promising.   Fareed Zakaria interviews former jihadists and reporters, such as a German news man who was allowed to visit ISIS held territories and live to tell about it.

ISIS is a scourge in the world and would love to do damage to us in particular, so you might want to understand from whence they came.   If an entire hour of ISIS is too much, why not tape it and watch in more digestible pieces later.

Tom Brady and Conflate Gate

Though some get very serious about what is normally called deflate gate, I think it a puff piece blown way out of proportion that will mean little over time compared with the achievements of the accused main culprit, quarterback Tom Brady.  On the other hand It is one of the few topics that I don’t find either mind boggling, depressing or just plain boring.   So over the next few days I’ll write more about it.  If you couldn’t care less about the topic, I’ll get to the point here:   The NFL doesn’t have guidelines for their punishments.  So, whatever punishment it inflicts is arbitrary;  hence, lawless.  The NFL has a king commissioner who arbitrarily decrees one punishment or another.  And then changes the punishment if something embarrassing comes to light later, such as a video of a player knocking out his wife in an elevator.

Why even have the rule about the inflation standard for game balls when each team is given its own new set of balls to play with and are allowed to make the balls more congenial to their QB’s in other ways, such as scuffing them.  For those so concerned about breaking the rules, even silly ones, how does one decide what is a just punishment for quarterback Tom Brady for “probably” knowing about a couple of  Patriot equipment managers deflating footballs to a level of his liking.  Does he deserve more or less or the same punishment as a player involved with domestic abuse?  With or without a vivid video to grab our attention.

I’ll write more about that in a few days.  Those not interested can just ignore my next post.

AMERICANA: The Super Duper Bowl

I sit here impatiently awaiting the kick off of the 2015 Super Bowl in three hours or so, numbed by a week’s worth of pre-game analysis and speculation and just wanting the game to begin.  And wanting it to be a much better game than last year and believing it should be because the Patriots and Seahawks both look like very good teams.

I’ve heard the Vegas line makers are calling this a “pick em” game, meaning neither is favored in the betting, a first in Super Bowl history. Hopefully they are right and the game is tight at the end, so as not to detract from a number of likely splendid advertisements and leave the flat feeling of last year’s one sided romp.

While waiting for the game to begin my thoughts are less about it than the success of its promotion over the years that has made the actual game secondary to its pre-game hype and game-time commercials.  The game itself is just a hook upon which to hang the overall phenomenon.  Is there any other TV event in which we not only don’t avoid the commercials but actually want to see them?

The first Super Bowl back in 1967 was a deflated version of its present self.  In short, it wasn’t all that super because there was no real pre-game promotion to create the image of it being so.  The game didn’t attract many that did not already follow football. Only about 2/3’s of the seats in the Los Angeles Coliseum were filled and 30 second TV advertisements cost $37,500 a piece (click for more details).

The  Super Bowl label seemed corny, overblown at the time.  Even to Lamar Hunt, an influential team owner who usually is credited for coming up with it.  He later said he used it “kiddingly,” a place mark for something better to come along.  Nothing did and the press took to Super Bowl.

Fast forward to $4.5 million 30 second ads shown to over 100 million viewers who have become addicted or just drawn to the phenomenon through media hype of its every aspect and the development of commercials as an art form.  If Super Bowl seemed too inflated a name that first year, these days I think it a bit under inflated, given our penchant for hyperbole.   What is super duper is not the game itself, but its nature as a commercial phenomenon second only to Christmas.

The ads have a life of their own.   You can find sites with the best Super Bowl ads over the years, like a hall of fame, and sites with ads that were refused for being too racy, sort of a hall of shame, if this were around 1700.   A whole world of Super Bowl ads come and gone.

This year the ad people have developed a new commercial stream, releasing many of the ads days before the game to prime the pump for today’s watching.  So we already know that Bud Lite’s little puppy saved by a big horse will pull our heart strings once again, while Go Daddy knows not to show its take off on that ad in which it has a puppy that is saved, but twists it when the owner is happy because  she had already sold the puppy on Go Daddy.  Oh, yuck.  Don’t ask me if the ad team was high on something when they thought this was clever.

But no matter.  Go Daddy’s initial failure might prove more valuable than Bud Lite’s success.   In pulling that ad they are spared a yucky game time reaction, while also getting lots of attention for their services beforehand.   Also, it will be newsworthy if Go Daddy replaces that ad with something clever during the game. If they come up with something funny or touching (maybe something self-deprecating), they could do better in the labyrinthian publicity game than those who came up with an attractive ad first time out.

Since we are talking about the twists and turns in the realm of publicity, let’s jump to the attention Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has received for his refusal to say much of anything on media day, other than “I’m only here so I won’t get fined” 29 times or so. While some may think he’s a jerk for doing that, others will like his rebellious attitude toward NFL dictates.

Either way, almost “all publicity is good publicity” and he received more attention this past week than any player other than Tom Brady, and if he has a great game, you’ll likely be seeing his face all over the place. If not, well, not so much.

I’m tired of thinking about the transmutations of the advertising game, so I will end this rambling.  I just hope a number of those ads live up to expectations and that the football game doesn’t detract from the overall experience.