Thursday, May 14, 2015

At the Point of Intersection Between Inflation and Exaggeration

There are scant few things that simultaneously amuse and terrify me more than the almost-insatiable appetite that we the people of these United States have for surface-skimming, which may help explain why - at least as of the Fall of 2014 - USA Today was the daily newspaper in this nation with the highest circulation, finishing ahead of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

I care almost not at all about either Tom Brady or the New England Patriots.  I care even less about the team's owner and all of the alleged shenanigans that have occurred on his watch.  I care not at all - ZERO - about whether in a football game that his team ultimately won by more than five touchdowns, Brady used less-than-fully inflated footballs.  I have watched football for most of my life but had you asked me - prior to this non-story becoming a story - what the NFL's process was for preserving the "sanctity" of the footballs to be used in that day's game, I would have expressed amazement that it has such a process.  Who fucking cares?  For those of you keeping score at home that was a rhetorical question.  

While I neither care that Tom Brady has supposedly been suspended for four games by the NFL nor believe for one goddamn minute that he shall in fact serve a suspension of that length, some of the utter nonsense that has spewed forth - principally from New England and/or those whose livelihoods are tied to the Patriots, Brady or both - has been so inane that it has made my hair hurt.  Enough already.  

As an initial consideration, all of those callers to sports talk radio and the hosts who earn a living inciting them who have adorned their "I Could Have Been a Lawyer" hat to take shots at Theodore Wells, allow someone who actually is a lawyer to disabuse of the notion that he, by some stretch of your very vivid imagination, is less intelligent and less well-versed in the law than are you.  Mr. Wells does not me to testify as to his bona fides.  His credentials speak for themselves.  He has forgotten more about the law since he finished writing his report than likely I - and most certainly you - shall ever learn if we live long enough to blow out the candles on our birthday cake celebrating our personal Sesquicentennial.   

Second - and this is directed to Brady's agent, Don Yee, who made certain to point out last week in his public declaration regarding the Wells Report the depth of the financial relationship between Mr. Wells' law firm and its client, the NFL ("The league is a significant client of the investigators' law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content on the law firm's website") while curiously omitting any discussion of the depth of the financial relationship between his firm and its client, Mr. Brady.  I did not find said omission galling.  No, what I found galling about Mr. Yee's statement was the amount of hyperbole it contained, no better example of which leaped out at me than his assertion that the Wells Report - a document produced after a four-month investigation into the PSI level in footballs for crying out loud - contained "significant and tragic flaws".  

Hey Don, I know you and I do not know each other.  And while I have little difficulty in accepting that you are excellent at what you do for clients such as Mr. Brady, sit down and shut the fuck up.  "Tragic" is a word that should never be used in a conversation regarding the amount of air in a football.  Your use of it in your statement, which those of us who practice law for a living know was not released for public consumption until it had been examined, re-examined and re-re-examined by you and you had approved not only every word but had approved every punctuation mark, was patently offensive.  Perhaps it was even deliberately so.  

I, personally, tend to take a somewhat jaundiced view of one's use of language, especially when the one doing the talking is a paid mouthpiece.  "Tragic" in the realm of an object's PSI level might very well arise if an under-inflated tire on a tractor trailer caused its driver to lose control, which led to an accident injuring the driver and/or others.  There is nothing about the PSI level of an NFL football that ever, ever sniffs at approaching the level of tragedy.  You should be embarrassed that you had the audacity to commit that turn of phrase to a statement released on your letterhead and on behalf of your client.  However, you know you are proud of yourself for having done so.  Sadly, so do I.  

In the second-to-last paragraph of his statement, Mr. Yee noted the importance of context ("the Wells Report omitted nearly all of Tom's testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks"), a point on which he and I are in agreement.   I respectfully submit that it is useful to place his use of the word "tragic" in context by comparing his usage of it in his statement to events that have occurred in the real world since he uttered it.  

While a report commissioned to investigate the air level of footballs is not "tragic", the execution-style murder last Sturday night of Hattiesburg, Mississippi Police Officer Benjamin Deen and Hattiesburg, Mississippi Police Officer Liquori Tate most certainly was.  Similarly, while hardly anyone outside of the United States can fake caring about the NFL - or by extension the discipline it imposes when it determines that a violation of its byzantine set of rules has occurred - one need not be Nepalese to appreciate the significance of that nation being struck by an aftershock that measured 7.3 on the Richter Scale and visited more death and suffering on a people still reeling from the earthquake that decimated them just last month.  Tragic is a word appropriately applied here to this situation. It is never to be applied here to this situation.  

At the end of the day, all that has happened in the world of play-pretend called the NFL this week is one arrogant, rich, Caucasian prick likely provoked the lifelong enmity of a second arrogant, rich, Caucasian prick by publicly disciplining a third arrogant, rich, Caucasian prick...who happens to be the most-famous employee of ARCP #2 and the person most responsible for ARCP #2's NFL team having captured four Super Bowls, including the most recent one.  

I know not what word best describes this faux saga - although farce leaps to the forefront of my mind - but I know what word does not fit it at all.    

It is not a tragedy.  

Never has been.

Never shall be.  

-AK 

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