Friday, February 27, 2015

Gregg Doyel, the Most Bitter Man in America

First, a bit of context. Read:

Now, my reply.


Gregg, Gregg, Gregg.

You need to give this a rest, brother. It's over. You lost. And I'm not just talking about the Colts.

Of course, the Colts have lost to New England a lot lately, and lost, and lost some more, one 20-plus point humiliation after another. And even before that, Peyton Manning, your all-NCAA, all-NFL, all-everything QB, never lived up to the hype. He was supposed to be The Greatest of All Time. Don't even bother quoting me his regular-season stats--you didn't draft him for regular-season glory. He was supposed to sweep into town and bring you a mountain of hardware. He got you one ring before he left, yes, but other than that, he gagged like a virgin bride in the playoffs every year, no matter how invincible he looked during the regular season. His myriad apologists pretend that the lone Lombardi Trophy excuses all the choking. It doesn't. If Peyton Manning won a championship every time he was favored to, he would've been like TWO Joe Montanas.

Meanwhile, that 6th-round draft pick in New England and his crotchety coach took home title after title, and even when they didn't win it all, they were in the thick of things until the very end. No matter how much Peyton played against New England, he always seemed to be on the losing end. And oh, by the way, Brady also looks like a movie star, and he's married to an impossibly gorgeous Victoria's Secret supermodel. His life is utterly perfect. If you're not a fan, this stuff gets old. You're bitter. It hurts. I understand.

It's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to be passionate about your team. It's okay to be a journalist with an axe to grind. It's okay, though unhealthy, to let your passion for your team morph into hatred for your team's rivals, even the kind of unstable, tooth-clenching, vein-popping hatred that you and many others have directed towards Foxborough, Massachusetts. That level of hatred is scary, but it's not really a problem. What is a problem is when you let your bias affect your reporting.

I have a theory about you: The more wrong you know you are, the angrier you get. You come right out and say it's "ludicrous" that cold temperatures deflated those footballs, when you probably, no, definitely, know that footballs lose pressure in the cold. It's not a theory; it's a scientifically-proven fact. So no, Gregg, it's not "ludicrous" at all; it's a hell of a lot more plausible than your conspiracy theory that the Patriots deliberately deflated the balls by 2 PSI, or 1 PSI, or less than 1 PSI, or "a few ticks", or whatever the anonymous leak du jour is saying today. Because this story was built on anonymous leaks, wasn't it? Yeah, it was, and you know it was, and you're way too stubborn to admit it, so you keep repeating arguments that you know hold no water, and I bet it angers you that you have to stoop to that.

But no matter. You took realities, scientific realities that have been accepted by most everyone on both sides of this story, and dismissed them with a label. They are ludicrous, you said, though you don't ever tell us why that's so. What about the HeadSmart Labs study, which PROVED that temperature change and moisture could have caused the footballs to lose as much as 2 PSI? What about Bill Belichick's study, which proved that the Patriots pre-game football preparation process causes footballs to gain 1 PSI, which subsequently dissipates over the next couple of hours? This would cause an artificially high reading before the game, and a reduced reading at halftime. You have no counter-argument for these proven facts, so you simply ridicule them, apparently in the hopes that we'll move along without asking questions.

This brings up a good point. Exactly how much pressure did these balls lose, Gregg? What were the pre-game and halftime PSI readings on each of the Patriots footballs? EXACTLY what were they? I'm not asking for general ranges; I need the actual readings of all 12 footballs for both teams, before the game and at halftime. Since you're so ironclad in your conviction that rules were broken and that championships should be vacated, you must have some solid data, and you must also have proof that the lost pressure could not have been caused by anything else other than deliberate malfeasance. Please share it with us!

And no, friend, a football measuring below the NFL's specified pressure range does NOT constitute proof that it was tampered with. As discussed above, footballs lose pressure for all sorts of reasons. Sticking a needle into a football and letting air out is not the only way for it to lose pressure. Go out and do some reading. Educate yourself. The materials are there!

I find your "perception equals reality" argument amusing. As a member of the media, you should be ashamed at the way you and your sportswriting brethren hungrily swallowed the NFL's leaks on this story, printing each scurrilous lie and baseless rumor as infallible gospel, and jumping to conclusions about who knew what and what the punishments should be, even as the "facts" kept changing and it was clear we didn't know everything yet. You--many of you--let your personal hatred color your writing. You really, really wanted the Patriots to be guilty, you wanted to have something over them, you wanted to BEAT them, and you sure as hell couldn't do it on the football field, so, along with the rest of the media, you convicted the Patriots, you smeared and slandered them, you recklessly trumpeted unfounded rumors as front-page headlines, and when those rumors were inevitably contradicted, your corrections were parenthetical--if you bothered to correct yourself at all. You used your persuasive powers to convince us that the Patriots were guilty. You deliberately poisoned your readers' opinions on this issue, and then you hid behind those opinions, smugly proclaiming that the Patriots have "lost" in the court of public opinion, while failing to acknowledge your own role in that process.

Tell me Gregg, how do you justify immediately believing the story that the Patriots' footballs were all underinflated by 2 PSI, never once questioning the source or the story itself, when you now refuse to believe, and in fact angrily mock, the idea that the Colts could have tampered with a football themselves? If the Colts didn't tamper with it, how do you explain Ian Rappoport's story that the D'Qwell Jackson football was the only one in the game that was 2 PSI under, and that none of the others in the entire game were even close to that? And no, I don't care about Chuck Pagano giving some reporter the stinkeye. He didn't answer the question, and neither have you.  And oh yeah: "The Patriots cheated before" is not an explanation. If you want to use their prior history as justification to investigate them more thoroughly, then go ahead. If you want to punish them more severely when and if they're found guilty, so be it. But you can NOT assume guilt because of a prior offense. That idea itself is un-American. You still have to prove your case. So prove it, or shut up.

By the by, I'm not conceding that the public has condemned the Patriots. SI ran a cover story on the Pats called "On to Immortality", with nary an asterisk in site. Pro Football Talk, CBSSports, the New York Times, and many others published stories immediately following the Super Bowl asserting that the Patriots' dynasty was the greatest of all time, and that Tom Brady is the best QB ever to play the game--and they published those stories without fine print.

This non-scandal scandal is in everyone's rear-view mirror but yours. It only got out of control in the first place because of unethical, misleading, anonymous leaks by the NFL, and irresponsible journalism by opportunists like you who knew better.

One other thing: Your statement that "The Patriots' substitution patterns... forced the NFL to make an adjustment for the Super Bowl" is at best sloppy research on your part, and at worst and out-and-out lie. Bill Voinovich, the official in the Pats-Ravens game, did not properly signal when a New England player declared as ineligible. Voinovich was supposed to declare the player as ineligible, along with making a hand signal to that effect, but he neglected to make the hand signal. Dean Blandino pointed out his error and made sure the proper procedure would be followed in the Super Bowl. This was a referee error--NOT a procedure change necessitated by a team's substitution practices.

This Super Bowl win has crowned the Patriots' dynasty with historic greatness, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Make your peace with that, and get on with your life.

Much Love-
The Sports Police