When my two young daughters were still in the second and third grades, I revealed to them that Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were all fairytales. The stories we were telling them of these fictional characters didn’t have a smidgen of truth. The stories made us all feel exuberant and even joyful, but they were all made up lies nonetheless.
I announced to my small circle on Social Media that my daughters were now enlightened and I can remember getting some push back. Some worried about my daughters telling their children on the school bus and others questioned why would I spoil a good thing or as one put it, the innocence of youth.
There has always been a fascination with the truth for me. I always wanted to get at the heart of the matter. When I was in the second grade I revealed to my two older brothers that I saw the toys in the closet and that Santa didn’t exist and remembered getting the wrath from my Beloved Grandmother. I read the paper and closely monitored world events on the four stations because I watched my Grandmother do it. She was an upstanding Christian woman who adored the truth but revealing the Santa myth went over the line for Ruby Mae Ward.
Fast forward 40 years, I authored a book titled, “The Asterisk, A Fan’s Grievance On Cheating And Rule Manipulation In The NFL,” that continues to challenge the prevailing fairytale that Tom Brady, a non athlete, was able to dominate the NFL and rise to the level of GOAT status on his own merit.
To call Tom Brady the best player ever to play the game dishonors the greats who played the game with their athletic abilities and not rule manipulation or affirmative action on the part of the NFL and decades of elaborate schemes to cheat opponents on the field of play.
Like children on Christmas, it is easy for Pat’s fans to get caught up in the euphoria because the NFL has been altering the rules to get to where the NFL is today since the mid-70s. Roger Goodell, the son of a die-hard Patriots fan and season ticket-holder, doubled down on strike zones for quarterbacks, two-step rules imposed on dominant defenders and allowing receivers to run virtually unimpeded throughout their routes to give a quarterback with his only dominant ability, a quick two-second release, the competitive advantage to pick defenses apart.
Most of the celebration around touchdowns and points on the board is like many consumers walking into a convenient store and selecting bottled water on taste and the prominent placement of the containers alone, not on purification standards. Many celebrate the NFL today on the joy of winning like children are hopeful about the joy of receiving that precious gift.
It has taken the New England Patriots this many decades to acquire the status of being one of the leaders, with six Super Bowl titles, but they won’t put the same amount of players in Canton because to make it to the Hall of Fame you have to do it with athleticism.
The NFL’s rule manipulation and Bill Belichick schemes can only take you so far. Where the rubber hits the road being a superior athlete should count for something even in today’s legalized gambling and fantasy era.
My book ‘The Asterisk’ highlights the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers achieved their titles despite the Mel Blount Rule (Google it), the many attempts by the NFL to, as legendary Steeler coach Chuck Noll described, legislate his teams success away and massive fines to protect less athletic and stationary targets like Brady on the backfield.
There is no comparison between the Steelers and Patriots success and to even entertain the fairytale would make, as Mike Tomlin said at his Robert Morris commencement address, a Patriot out of you and me.