football

Balls

As most of you know, I despise the New England Patriots. Color me unsurprised that the Assholes of the league have been caught cheating. Again. I'm less than thrilled that my city will be hosting them for the Super Bowl. *Edit: For those of my readers who don't follow the Sports, the Patriots were found to have used balls inflated below the league regulation PSI. This would make the balls easier to throw and handle, therefore giving the team an unfair advantage over their opponents. The rile up has been called "DeflateGate" (because every scandal must end in "gate".)

I've been watching "deflategate" for some unknown reason. (It might be because I'm waiting to see Belichick and Brady--two men who embody my loathing for the New England Patriots--fall on their faces. Not sure.) So I watched Belichick's prepared speech Thursday morning and thought it was exactly what you'd expect to hear. A bunch of denial and passing the buck. What surprised me was that the coach flat out put the onus on his star quarterback.

Hubbawha?!

No honor among thieves, sure, and these two seem thick as the aforementioned felons. I'm actually a little taken aback that Belichick didn't hoist blame onto one of the equipment managers or some lackey ball boy.

What pissed me off about Belichick's speech (other than the man himself), was his comment that in his 40+ years of NFL coaching experience, he has "never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That's just not a subject that's brought up."

Okay, other than the fact that his own comments later kinda sound too specific for someone who hasn't discussed it before, I call horseshit on this one. You've been a coach in the NFL for longer than I've been alive and you're telling me that you have no clue about ball pressure? (I know about ball pressure--I've watched that episode on Mythbusters about the supposed helium-filled ball getting more hang time--and I'm not an NFL coach!) Also, dude, it's your fucking job to know this. So what you're saying is this: you're either ignorant about what your job entails, or you're lying. If the former, perhaps team owner Kraft should rethink his choice of a head coach. (If the latter, pack your bags, assface.)

But really, Belichick's prepared remarks were exactly what you'd expect of a known cheater trying to cover his ass and make the most of the asterisk that will permanently accompany his team's 2014 season record.

Tom Brady's press conference Thursday afternoon was far more interesting to me. Yes, I giggled like a 12 year old at the double entendres flying all over the place. What I really wanted to hear was the quarterback's reaction to Belichick's speech. Thankfully, a dauntless reporter got that one in early.

brady smirk

Brady shrugged it off, citing that everyone's just "trying to figure out what happened." While Tom's answer was calm and tactful, the expression on his face spoke volumes. (Admittedly, I couldn't gif it and show you the evolution of the sneer to smirk to calm face.)

And now, comes the part that surprises me most of all.

I'm about to defend Tom Brady. (I know, it tastes bitter, guys.)

So, the reporters kept harping on, "How could you not notice? Did you notice that the balls felt different? You handle the balls and like them a very specific way, couldn't you tell a difference?"

Look, here's the thing...he's not sitting on the sideline caressing his footballs while the other team has their go. No quarterback is doing anything other than his job--looking at game shots from upstairs, talking with his team/coaches, PLAYING THE GAME. And when they're on the field, the top notch stars like Manning, Luck and Brady? They are in contact with the ball for less than 3 seconds per play. Think about that. Most of these reporters probably can't adequately pick their noses in 3 seconds. And during that short period of time, quarterbacks of this caliber are doing their jobs as master strategists. After the snap they're assessing incoming threats, wind direction and speed, the positions of their receivers, coverage on said receivers, their own physical form, the position/handling of the ball itself, doing mental geometry and plotting trajectories for their upcoming pass. Add to this weather conditions like we saw during Sunday's game. And that's just what *I*, a woman who took a season off of her fantasy league, can think of off the top of my head. There are literally at least a dozen other things that a quarterback is thinking about in the 3 seconds he's in contact with the ball that are more important than the PSI of said ball.

So yeah, I'm going to step in front of Tom for just a moment and say, "Dude, I think you're expecting a little too much of someone who may have held a ball for a maximum of 5 seconds at a time, let alone 12 of them over the course of a whole game, when you ask him how he couldn't possibly tell the difference. If I licked your pen, you'd probably notice. But would you notice if I removed 15% of the ink?"

And now I turn to Tom and say, "Dude, your team is cheating. If you're not directly involved, I'd be pissed as hell at the person who a) didn't think my team could win without breaking the rules and b) is taking my time away from serious game planning to deal with this utter bullshit. Own up if it's you, and prepare for the worst. Also, Belichick's an asshole and I hate your face."

Well, maybe I'd omit that last part. About the face. But not the rest. Pretty sure right now Brady'd back me up on the fact his coach blows goats.

So how do I feel about Deflategate? (Other than the fact that the real winner is Gillette with their ill-timed hashtag #flexball appearing on the screen during both pressers?) I think it's ridiculous. It's the second time the New England Patriots have been caught cheating. There is now speculation that they also cheated during their play-off game versus the Baltimore Ravens. This whole thing has put an asterisk by their team record. Sure, they could win the Super Bowl, but who would believe it? There's always going to be this stain on their 2014 season reminding them and us that this team and its management cannot be trusted. Their wins always come with the caveat of, "assuming they weren't cheating".

Team owner Robert Kraft has a lot of thinking to do. His coaching staff has tarnished the legacy of his team multiple times. He needs to consider firing Belichick. (If this happens, it will be after the Super Bowl. This is assuming some poor hapless ball boy isn't set up as a patsy for this shit.) He has to do something to take back the integrity of his team.

Chairman Goddell and the NFL need to do something more than strip the Patriots of draft picks and levy fines that it's obvious their coffers can handle. That's not discipline. Also, being their second known offense and in such a high profile game, this seriously effects the integrity of the game. Goddell needs to consider long-term suspension (of Belichick AND Brady), and a post-season ban for the 2015 season.

As to the Super Bowl itself, well...The Ravens or the Colts can't replace them. Time and logistics negate the idea that anyone but the Patriots will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Should Belichick be suspended? Absolutely. Regardless of his knowledge, it's his JOB to know about ball pressure and the process of what happens with balls prior to a game. He has failed and it caused a serious problem on his watch. Should Brady be suspended? I don't know. Part of me would love that, but then if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl everyone will say, "It's because Brady wasn't playing."

No, I want Seattle to have what Indy and Baltimore didn't: a chance to win the game fair and square.

Publishing and Pigskin

anigif_enhanced-buzz-5060-1378481548-18

Welcome back, readers. The NFL season is underway and for once I might have a damn fine fantasy season. (Yes, I have Peyton Manning as my QB. What?!) So, I was watching the football games yesterday--like one does--and I thought, This is an awful lot like publishing.

Time is Wibbly Wobbly

tumblr_ma9bt5LDYz1rvd7mmWhen I was a kid, I didn't appreciate football. Partially because I didn't understand it, but also because I just didn't have any emotional investment in the game. But what always drove me nuts was when an adult would say, "The game's almost over. Look, there's only five minutes left on the clock." Five minutes in football, as you probably know, is not five minutes in real life. Seriously, an hour later the confetti still hasn't fallen and six-year old me is about to pull out her pigtails.

And so it is with publishing. Time is relative in this strange business. Querying agents? Thanks to random chance, schedules, time outs, injuries or overtime, you could be waiting twelve minutes or two weeks for a response. On submission to publishers? See above. And editing is its own animal. Hell, a book can be cocked, locked and ready to rock, but you're still waiting on a schedule before you can see it on shelves.

Fast and Furious

There are fits and bursts of activity in football. Each play is a flurry of bodies and work and tension and will-they-or-won't-they. And then it's over, we reset, we take a time out....wait. Wait. Wait. And then we do it all over again.

seriously, this is beautiful.

This, too, is publishing. Send out your number one quarterback query, maybe call an audible and email that one agent you think is a long shot.  Wait...drum your fingers on the desk....then BOOM! You've got a request. Send out the partial! And wait.  On submission? You get word that someone's taking it to the acquisition board. Wait, we've iced the kicker and the board ultimately rejected the book. Try again after a time out. Editing? It's the same thing. We get the email with the revision letter and plow through like a running back through a defensive line. Then, that pass is over and we wait some more.  Another email and another play--furious writing and working to meet a deadline.

Fantasy 

We've all got that dream editor or agent that we want to work with. The author we idolize that we hope will one day be blurbing our books. (Christopher Moore, call me!) We watch trends, follow blogs, make lists and imagine a world where our names are side by side with those of our idols. Like fantasy football, though, sometimes trends are just statistical hiccups. People leave the industry or switch jobs and all of our careful planning crumbles. Our fantasies always cave to reality. (Or, sometimes you draft Peyton Manning.)

Winning Teams

Football and publishing are team sports. You are your quarterback, calling the plays and writing the books. You know where you want to go and you've got all the tools in your offense to make that possible. Beta readers are your center, left and right guards. They protect you from yourself and help you use your offense to its best potential. Your agent? She's playing iron man for you as both defense and coach helping you navigate your way down the field without getting sacked. Likewise, your editor is there to whip your offensive line into shape so that your book rockets into the end zone. At the end of the day, you're nothing without your team.

tumblr_mmfapu9mlz1qia6ffo1_500

So, as the NFL season ramps up, convention season winds down and Publishing Fridays are a thing of memory, remember that we take the hits of rejection because at the end of the day...we love this shit. We love the game. Write. Enjoy it. And have fun.