Can we be honest for a minute about the latest liberal crusade gripping the country like a deflated football?
If you are sincerely concerned about fair play in sports and waiting patiently for the NFL to conclude its investigation of “Deflategate,” this column is not directed at you. Maybe you’re a New England Patriots fan or just a neutral observer. Maybe you don’t care about football at all.
But for the rest of you, the mob salivating over the prospect of finding something to diminish the Patriots’ 2014 achievements, let’s face it.
You hated Tom Brady before the national media lost its collective mind over the air pressure in footballs.
You hated Tom Brady before Spygate.
Your hatred of Brady goes back much further than that. You despised him in high school, when you wanted to sit with the jocks in the cafeteria. You detested him when he was dating the cheerleaders.
You loathed Brady when he upset your team in the Super Bowl. You screamed with rage when he dissected your team’s secondary like a surgeon and exposed the Swiss cheese-like holes in your coverages. You were outraged when he didn’t come out of the game after throwing at least four touchdown passes.
Then when he married a supermodel? Game over.
You don’t hate him because he cheats. You hate him because he wins. If he’s exposed in the current NFL probe, that’s something you’ll love.
I get it now, but for a long time I didn’t. I could understand why people disliked Bill Belichick, even if I didn’t agree. But Brady wasn’t much of a trash-talker, at least off the field. He was no Richard Sherman. He usually says the right thing in public. His teammates seem to enjoy playing with him and for him, even if he occasionally yells at receivers who run the wrong routes or referees who make unfavorable calls.
Few professional athletes have the character of Mother Teresa. If they’re even as decent as Tim Tebow, they’ll soon be out of a job. But if I had to compile a list of the biggest jerks in the NFL, Brady would not rank very high.
Tom Brady is a winner. He has won 76.5 percent of the games he has started. He has been to the AFC Championship the majority of seasons he has played. He has three Super Bowl rings. He is about to make his sixth appearance in the big game.
A certain amount of jealousy is human nature. But the contempt for Brady’s sustained success goes beyond that. It’s a larger liberal war against success, based on the sentiments expressed by the senior senator in the Pats’ home state, Elizabeth Warren, and then later repeated more pithily by Barack Obama.
All those records? Tom Brady didn’t build that.
Success cannot be earned, the game must be rigged.
You don’t care that he has three rings, because Spygate. You don’t care that when throwing fully inflated footballs he completed 82 percent of his passes against the Indianapolis Colts just this year, because cheating.
I can already hear you saying, “Wait a minute, Antle. I’m no liberal. I’m a true-blue red-state American and I just don’t like the cut of Brady’s cheating-assed jib.”
The liberals have gotten to you anyway. They know you don’t like Boston, the city closest to where Brady plays, or California, where the quarterback is from. You might not even like Michigan, where Brady went to college.
The same politics of envy that liberals exploit to make some people crave tax increases on the wealthy has turned you against the winningest quarterback of our time, a hero to the blue-collar and culturally conservative parts of the Bay State, a true Patriot.
If the rules were broken, they were broken and someone needs to be held accountable. Personal responsibility is a conservative value. As Belichick is fond of saying, “It is what it is.”
What I’m talking about is the pure joy some people feel at the possibility a new anti-Brady talking point exists, the unadulterated glee that accompanies each Patriots loss.
Drew Bledsoe, the man who lost his job to Tom Brady, doesn’t feel this way. Neither apparently does Rich Gannon, who lost the “tuck rule” game to him.
Brady has been battered by some elite NFL pass rushes. Does he have the pocket agility to evade the rush to judgement?
If Brady loses the upcoming Super Bowl, there will be only one consolation. All the people who hate winners will transfer their bile to the Seattle Seahawks instead.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.