Oh, I’m quite sure that, come next Saturday night, I’ll be tuning in and watching at least part of the Patriots vs.Tennessee playoff game. And the next weekend, I’m quite sure that – if the Patsies get by the Titans – I’ll be watching the AFC playoff. Not to mention that, come February 4th, if our boys make it to the Super Bowl, I’ll watch that game, too. I’m not the biggest football fan on the face of the earth. As I have said many times, football to me is like veal. If I thought about veal, I wouldn’t eat it. And if I thought about football, I wouldn’t watch it. Too much martial music. Too much Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Too much right-wingery. And yet…The rest of the football-watching world may hate their guts, but they’re our home town honeys. Go, Pats!
With respect to football, I’m something of a band-wagoner. I’ve gone decades without watching any pro football, and for those decades was among the apparent minority of Americans who didn’t watch Super Bowl. And then, the Patriots got good. No, make that the Patriots got great. And that good to great happened at the confluence of owner Bob Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. Of this holy trinity, both Belichick and Brady may well be the GOATs – Greatest of All Time – for their respective professions. Since 2002, the Pats have won five Super Bowls and lost (in heartbreaking, fluke fashion) the two others they appeared in.
And this dominance happened in football, which is set up to make it less possible than in other sports. So the Pats may, in fact, be even more impressive, dynasty-wise, than the Bill Russell Celtics or the multi-dynasty Yankees.
Now, however, as the playoffs have begun, there may be trouble in Gillette Stadium’s dynastic paradise.
Rumors, reported by ESPN, have it that Bill Belichick is pissed. That Bob Kraft (who apparently considers Tom Brady a fifth son) forced him to trade Jimmy Garoppolo – the much younger backup quarterback that Coach Bill was grooming to replace Tom Brady when the inevitable happens, and Brady (who’s 40) hangs up his jockstrap for the last time.
The rumors also have it the Tom Brady is pissed. He’s pissed that Belichick forced his training guru and business partner, Alex Guerrero, off the team plane and off his up- close and personal game-time perch on the field. Guerrero is a controversial (and sketchy) force, whose unorthodox training methods (and diet) is credited by Brady with making his superstar and long-lived career possible. (Thou shall not eat nightshades, deadly or otherwise!) There was conflict between Guerrero and the Pats training staff, as a number of other Patriots, whether to suck up to or emulate Brady, have adopted Guerrero’s method. (And, they’re said to be addressing Brady – a teammate – as “sir.”)
Meanwhile, Bob Kraft is pissed that there are any rumors swirling around the Dynastic Trio, and issued a vehement denial, which hilariously (to me at least) pretty much coincided with his good buddy Donald J. Trump’s protests that he, DJT, is a “very stable genius.”
The rumor mill has it that Belichick may be taking his talents elsewhere, if only to prove that he can win without Brady. If the Patriots win it all this year - they’re the Vegas 2:1 favorites – the story goes, it’s on to the New York Giants.
These stories are consuming the local sports media, not to mention the fan base. And I have to admit that I’m very much enjoying it. It reminds me, after all, of the crazy, dysfunctional, palace intrigue workplaces I always managed to find myself in.
There was the famous War Between the Tall Guys and the Short Guys, in which the all-male executive team appeared to have chosen up sides based on height. In this corner, the Tall Guys (COO, CMO, CTO), in the other corner, the Short Guys (CEO, EVP of Sales, CFO, and some guy – a nasty, brutish and short guy – whose role, other than that of nasty, brutish, and short troublemaker, I can’t recall). The Tall Guys lost the battle, which you might have figured would have happened, given that CEO > COO. But the COO and his brother were majority owners, so the CEO > COO outcome wasn’t assured.
As a result of the Tall Guy loss, the CMO – my boss – lost his job. And I lost mine.
Then there was the outfit where the only two women in senior management hated each others’ guts – and rightly so. In one famous incident, these two got into it during a meeting that ended with the straight VP yelling “FUCK YOU” to the lesbian VP, and the lesbian VP yelling back “DON’T TEMPT ME.” How do I know that this is a true story? After all, these two were the only witnesses. Well, I know it because each of these gals told me the story, in gleeful and near-verbatim style. Cat fight!
I could go on…
Pretty much every place I ever worked was riddled with some often pretty nasty politics. I’m sure this had something to do with the fact that I was drawn to f’d up organizations, but probably had a lot more to do with that’s being how organizations work. Even successful ones, like the New England Patriots.
Over the next couple of weeks, if the Pats do what they’re so good at doing, and are expected to do, the news in these parts will be dominated by football stories. Boring, predictable, football stories about the GOATs path to yet another Super Bowl win. Yawn!
Bring on the Pat Fight stories and I’ll be all ears and eyes! Forget let the games begin. Let the rumors keep swirling!