Skipping the Post-Game Handshake
I want Tom Brady to get drilled in the knee and tear his ACL.
This is a new feeling for me, one that I'm struggling to accept. I don't particularly dislike Tom Brady, and as a former athlete I believe dirty plays are the lowest form of thuggery. However, after watching yesterday's game between the Patriots and Redskins, I have lost all respect for the Patriots organization, particularly their coach Bill Belichick, whom I had previously considered the best coach in football.
In case you haven't heard, the Pats beat up on the Skins 52-7, in a game that featured an even larger disparity than perhaps the score indicates. The lingering question from the game is whether or not the Patriots ran up the score late in the 4th quarter, breaking a unwritten rule of league etiquette.
So far the national media seems surprisingly unfazed by Belichick's decision to go for fourth down conversions up 38 and 45 points respectively. Allow me to protest then...
Sports, in its most basic capacity, serves as an outlet for competition that prevents people from using their competitive urge in a method which could prove hazardous or dangerous to those around them. The early Olympics were an effort to reduce the fighting of the various Greek nation-states by allowing them to compete against each other without death or war. As a result, the concept of sportsmanship has evolved through the centuries, so that the combatants each go home at the end of the day, beaten or victorious, but with the knowledge that they can try again next game. The respect amongst athletes gets passed down and taught to our children, as they line up and shake hands at the end of a hockey game, or when the ball is intentionally played out of bounds when a soccer player gets injured.
Belichick and the Patriots are slapping the rules of sportsmanship straight across the mouth. By leaving his all-world quarterback in the game, already up 38 points, with less than 10 minutes to go, he is telling the NFL world to go screw themselves. This attitude is most likely a response to the "Spygate" issue from the beginning of the season, and his attempt to prove that he can win without cheating. But there is winning, and winning ungracefully. Don't claim that its more insulting to kick a field goal, or that you needed to get your backup QB more work by going for it on 4th downs. Respect your opponent, respect the game, or else fear that someday it will come back on you.
The Redskins players and coaches said all the right things in postgame interviews. They had no problem with the Patriots approach, and it was their job to make the stops and get the other team off the field. But secretly, I'm certain that a few of them are mad they didn't take the effort to chase Brady down after a play, and spear him in the knee. What's a 15 yard penalty and a small fine worth compared to your dignity and honor?
It's true that I take this more personally because it happened to my beloved burgundy and gold, but the fact remains that New England has been running up the score all season against people. Sooner or later, karma is going to decide that it doesn't like to be shown up, and when that happens Bill Belichick, I hope you enjoy trying to keep Randy Moss happy when Matt Cassel can't get him the football.