Seriously. Most fans don't need – or want – to know every waking thought of every player and coach. They just want to see the game... and the cool commercials.
We can't escape Deflate-Gate, though. Yeah, the caper's been written about ad nauseum. But Deflate-Gate is important – not the act itself as much as the mentality behind it.
First, a question: What's up with the Gate?
Old Timers like me remember how someone broke into and bugged the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in 1972 (Wow! So long ago...). Someone leaked the story later. The Nixon administration denied any involvement or knowledge. American scandals have tended to get a Gate in the name ever since.
Fast forward to 2015. Someone doctors footballs to give his team an edge over the competition. News of the cheating leaks out. Team leaders deny any involvement or knowledge.
Why cheat, though?
Without getting into too much football-speak (I can do that; it's an addiction), the New England Patriots didn't need an extra edge two weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts. No offense meant, Indy fans. The Colts are undeniably an excellent team, Division Champions.
I believe the Patriots are the better team right now, however. They didn't need to risk this mess. Here they are nonetheless, wriggling and dancing, and offering ridiculous explanations, in an attempt to diffuse their own bomb. Worse, they still haven't distanced themselves from another recent scandal – the 2007 videotaping of opponents' practices, dubbed Spy-Gate.
Some folks (Patriots fans, mostly) might call these behaviors “competitiveness.” Really? More like “insecurity,” with a capital “I.” The Patriots' quarterback, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and his coach already own three Super Bowl rings. This year's Patriots team isn't as talented as past squads, but they're still Conference Champions. And yet, someone in the organization thought it necessary to break rules.
Someone with the Patriots, like the Nixon administration, cheated... for the team. Somebody higher up knew about it but, like Watergate, nobody admits anything.
Fear drives this runaway bus. Fear of losing. Win at all costs no matter what it takes, because winning is the only thing.
Fear. Whose fear? Can a whole team be insecure? Sure. A wise young friend of mine believes institutional insecurity starts at the top and filters down throughout the organization. A look back through history, at other institutions and even entire countries, proves him right.
Whether New England wins their fourth Super Bowl ring today or not, football fans will remember their insecurity, their fear, and how they chose to handle it. I doubt the Patriots want to be remembered with controversy and doubt smeared across their names. Too bad they didn't think it through.
What we all do now, and how we do it, matters later.