It's hard to write a sports media column when you've spent much of the week desperately trying to avoid the sports media.
That's what I've been doing this week. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
Following the Patriots' loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, I knew immediately that this would be a horrible week. Fans would be panicking on the airwaves, or angrily yelling that Bill Belichick should be fired, or that the Patriots should've kept Matt Cassel and traded Tom Brady two years ago. (Both of which I've actually heard in my limited time listening to the radio this week.)
I knew certain radio and television hosts, as well as newspapers columnists would be giggling with glee over the loss, excited at the opportunity to take shots and assign blame.
A friend of mine called me up on Monday, and said to me: "I was thinking about it, and I feel really bad for you. I can go into a complete media blackout - not read the papers, not listen to the radio or watch TV, but you HAVE to keep up with all this stuff."
He was right. As much as I would like to avoid most of the nonsense coming from the sports media world this week, I can't.
One thing strikes me as I've read and listened and watched. No one around here, fan, or media can fathom the notion that the Jets actually won this game rather than the Patriots lost it. Every conversation is how the Patriots didn't do this, or did this wrong, or they lost because they benched Wes Welker for one series, or because they didn't have enough passion or they didn't make any in-game adjustments, or whatever.
No one seems to be able to say "Hey, the New York Jets played a helluva game." Former Boston Herald columnist Michael Gee had a terrific post on his blog on this very topic this week. He observes:
Not that Boston is any worse in that regard than any other place. I know FANS have always thought their teams won or lost solely because of their own virtues and vices. I was a fan once, and that's how I thought about it. Commentators, reporters, and analysts, however, are supposed to adhere to higher, or at least more rational standards. Both sets of competitors influence the outcome of a game in any team sport. Figuring out the "did they fall-were they pushed" dividing line is kind of the point of commenting on a single game, or so I used to think.
Not anymore. There is no lonelier opinion in the sports opinion business than "Visiting Team played really well and that's why Home Team lost." The pressure for more ratings, readers, clicks, etc., which has always existed, has led to the total dominance of the "Home Team = Only Team" school of journalism. Journalism, consciously but mostly unconsciously, has become "market-driven," a euphemism for "give the rubes what they want."
What he says is absolutely true. This happens with any sports event around here. The opposition never wins -- or loses -- a game. That distinction is solely placed on the home team.
One topic that was huge this week was the "suspension" of Wes Welker for the Patriots' first offensive series due to remarks the receiver made earlier in the week, poking fun at Jets coach Rex Ryan.
The move was reported just prior to kickoff by the CBS broadcast team, and analyst Phil Simms told WEEI this week that the information was obtained by hearing players talk about it on the field.
Boston media and fans quickly seized on this incident as being the reason for the loss. If Welker was on the field for that first drive they would've scored a touchdown! The suspension angered his teammates, and they were distracted and they lost! And on and on.
The impossibly cynical, negative and hateful (toward the Patriots) Tony Massarotti weighed in with a column on the topic, and in it, made this statement:
Anyone who believes that CBS garnered the information by overhearing a conversation on the Patriots sideline before the game is either terribly naïve, or a Patriots yahoo, the two of which are not mutually exclusive.
This was the latest attack made by Massarotti on Patriots fans, but it is also completely illogical.
According to Tony, the Patriots, who by all accounts hate and avoid the media and go to incredible lengths to keep information and incidents "in house," decided to go to someone in the media on their own accord and volunteer this information, knowing full well that it would blow up into a huge story? Very unlikely.
The Randy Moss episode early in the season should confirm this. The Patriots never, ever said a negative word about Moss, even after he had spoken out about his contract and role, and even after they had traded him. They made the whole situation, which was potentially volatile and explosive, into a non-story.
Now we're supposed to believe that the Patriots are running to tell CBS that they're suspending their best receiver, a guy who has embodied "the Patriot way" since he arrived here in 2007? I don't think so.
Sorry Mazz, I'm not buying your grassy knoll theory on this one.
I actually wish I had never come across it in the first place.