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Half dozen

Sunday 2/3/19

My friend Hardware John, he who predicted the blowout, texts me after the game. "See? I told you it would be a blowout." You know, man...Once Hardware John said to me, "You don't talk like other people do when you're on NPR with that falsetto voice," to which I said, what, I don't talk like I'm Smokey Robinson at the end of a chorus, so tonight I had to remind him that you don't even have to buy a dictionary anymore, you can look up all the words online. Blowout. John worries me because he always says that I'm going to change the world more than anyone ever has, take down this industry, get people reading, change culture and history, but he's often wrong about things. He wasn't wrong about my heart with hospital stuff. But when he makes one of his predictions about a game--which is usually the opposite of mine--I really want him to be correct so I'll feel better about his more important predictions. I don't like having to text him, "Well, there it is again, Captain Wrong, your streak continues. We should call you the Iron Horse. Iron John."

To get through the game I had to read some of Van Gogh's letters. I had the sound on. But Christ that was boring. That was easily the worst competitive Super Bowl in NFL history, and I would say it was the worst Super Bowl, aesthetically, I've ever seen. There was that stretch of years where it seemed every Super Bowl was a blowout--like with the Niners beating the Broncos 55-10--but you watched great players make great plays, at least. This was awful. Shows you the difference between being a regular season stat quarterback and actually being an above average quarterback, let alone a good one. Goff is terrible. What I liked about the game--besides it proving I was correct all season long when I said this Patriots team was showing no drop-off, despite everyone wagging their finger at me that this was wrong--was that it showed how radical the Patriots can be. When everyone else in the league was like "Look at my pretty passing attack," the Patriots went all 1970s on everyone's ass. Run first team, ball possession team, short passing team, pounding defensive team, out-physical you team. They were more like what the 2004 Patriots were--but not as good--and less like the 2017 Patriots. I thought this was the best Patriots team in a number of years.

I had said earlier Edelman had no chance at the Hall of Fame. Winning MVP of that game gives him an outside chance. He came pretty far in a year, from having the ripped up knee, to the suspension, to having lost quickness, to having found it, to being most of their offense for large stretches of this title-clinching game. I have very limited confidence in Gostowski. I could have told you he was going to miss that first kick. He's always good for a miss in the biggest game. I thought Brady sucked in the first half. Philips had him confused. And Brady always does something dumb at the start of these games. He was better in the second half when he started putting touch on the ball and throwing those passes over the DBs shoulders and into the arms of his guys, the pass to Gronkowski being the best of them all. Happy for Gronkowski--87 yards. One of the three best players on offense.

I know you hate them, people, but you have to admire them. They are the best. They never stop coming. They don't quit, they don't believe what everyone says they cannot do, they are never satisfied, and you hate them because you're not more like that yourself. You should work on that. But what can you say? That's history right there. We've had professional team sports in this country for over a century now, closer to a century and a half, and we've never had anything like this. Or on this continent. To win for 1/5 of a century, in the era of free agency, picking down low in the draft every year, can only be done if you are smarter than everyone else. There's no other way. It's not as significant, obviously, but you need to be to your sport what Beethoven was to music, Rembrandt to painting, Ford to cinema. That's the coach. What a limited term with what he is. And the quarterback, well, we are now at the point where I think you have to say this is the greatest winner in all of team sports. It's easier to win a title in basketball or in hockey. That a single quarterback has now won as many titles as Jordan, two more than Gretzky...that's hard to process. I'm not going to tell you that Brady is better at his sport than those two were at those. I'd actually put him third. But he's the best at winning. And winning is ultimately what it's about. And what has happened in Boston sports history for the last fifth of a century is also historically unique. Globally. Do we have to go back to ancient Grecian times for comps? Crazy stuff. And by the way, as I see people are already starting to whinge about Edelman winning MVP, given that he was suspended, and Kaepernick being blackballed: I know more about being blackballed than anyone, I daresay. Kaepernick had the option to remain in the league, but he didn't like the money. He also had zero business, by any basic understanding of performance evaluative stats, of being an NFL quarterback. It's like saying an NHL goalie with a save percentage of .870, when the worst guy in the league has one of .910, is being blackballed. Some people just don't have the necessary ability. In sports, we have these things called stats that can prove that. What Kaepernick chose to do was tap into his obvious racism and spread his toxicity in the name of social justice which was a simulacrum of actual justice--a pose, a lie, a form of hypocrisy-- because that allowed him to do nothing, not work hard, and make a lot of money. I could care less if you kneel or you don't kneel, and no one should care about that. But he was a bad quarterback. Not in 2012, but by the end of his NFL stint. And there is nothing he could have done to bolster any team. It's simply called reality. And a basic understanding of the sport. Or if that's too much for you, simple math.

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