Think about it: George W. Bush was still kicking back on Pennsylvania Avenue, Avril Lavigne and Amy Winehouse were atop the music charts, Pirates of the Caribbean was only three movies deep and Bob Barker was still hosting The Price Is Right.
Basically, if you walk up to someone and start talking about events that were popular in 2007, you'll look like a fool.
Enter Gregg Easterbrook.
The "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" author for ESPN.com has been a longtime critic of the New England Patriots. He once labeled a Patriots-Colts game as Good vs. Evil (I'll leave it to you to guess which label was assigned to Tony Dungy and which to Bill Belichick), and he's mentioned Spygate roughly 11,000 times in the past four years (I'm estimating).
Well, on Aug. 23, 2011, with the NFL season mere weeks away, Easterbrook has done it again.
"Here's the deal: The New England Patriots have not won a playoff game since Spygate broke," Easterbrook incorrectly noted. "Bill Belichick continues to refuse to say, 'I cheated and I apologize.' Until he does, the football gods will torment this team by allowing the Patriots to play very well during the regular season, then denying them in money time."
All right, we can't go on without stating the obvious: Easterbrook is a smart writer, and his wry wit is evident throughout all of his 4-million-word stories. Much of what he says is tongue-in-cheek, and it's important to keep that in mind before blowing your top.
At the same time, at what point is this guy going to stop going to the Spygate well?
You'll note, first of all, that the whole "Spygate" mess (can we stop adding "gate" to scandals, by the way?) began in Week 1 of the '07 season in New York, when Eric Mangini blew the whistle on Belichick for deceitful tactics that Mangini used to perform under Belichick. It's always been awfully convenient that Mangini, at the time the head coach of the Jets before he was eventually fired for being terrible, knew exactly what was taking place on the sideline. It's almost as if he was familiar with such work.
In any case, you'll remember the Patriots rallied behind their coach last year, blowing doors off teams and winning by an average score of 82-7 all season. That's a joke, obviously, but they actually did outscore opponents 589-274, or an average score of 37-17 every week. The Patriots did pretty well after Spygate broke.
In fact, they went 16-0 in the regular season before beating Jacksonville and San Diego in the postseason. Yes, indeed — the Patriots did win postseason games after Spygate broke. Were the football gods on vacation that January?
Of course, once the calendar turned to February, and Tom Brady pondered the defensive abilities of Plaxico Burress, and the Boston Herald ran a story that turned out to have no facts for support, and Belichick decided to go for it on fourth down and David Tyree had that whole thing happen with his helmet, things turned sour for the Patriots. A few months later, Brady's knee was busted, and the Patriots are 0-2 in the postseason since then.
Did that have more to do with the football gods or the fact that the Ravens were excellent in '10 and it's always hard to beat Rex Ryan's Jets twice in one season?
There's also this: Belichick and owner Robert Kraft did apologize for the whole mess. You can actually read about it right on the website of Easterbrook's employer.
"I'm happy they did it," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said of the apology that Kraft and Belichick made to owners (media was not present, so maybe it doesn't count for Easterbrook). "I don't know they had to do it. But it was good to hear from them. … What was said will stay in the room, but it was good."
Whatever the case, it's your fault for paying attention to a writer who goes back to Spygate at every given opportunity because he knows it's an easy way to get football fans in New England to read his story. At the same time, it's my fault for telling you about it and potentially ruining what might have been a lovely Wednesday for you.
I'm sorry. Let's hope that apology spares me from any further punishment from the football gods.
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