Can anyone stop this year’s NFL juggernaut, the New England Patriots? Now I’m not suggesting they’re going to be 16-0 this regular season. In fact, I’ll go on record saying that ain’t gonna happen. But they’re certainly a legitimate contender for another Super Bowl championship. That fact alone I’m sure has my Dad in panic mode. If QB Tom Brady leads New England to another title this year, it will be the fourth championship in his first eight seasons. One of Dad’s favorites, 49ers hall of fame QB Joe Montana, needed eleven seasons to claim four titles.
Speaking of Dad, I will be seeing him in a couple of weeks at my Uncle Gene’s wedding in Northeast Wisconsin. As always, we will talk about the sports issues of the day. And as always, Dad will dismiss the Patriots’ success. Since the Pats won their first Super Bowl in January 2002, Dad has been railing on New England head coach Bill Belichick and how he has been “overhyped” in the media. In fact, any coach or professional athlete who has had an exceptional career (i.e. Belichick, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, etc.) seems to draw Dad’s ire. His rationale is usually along the lines of “I get so sick of hearing how (insert name) is supposedly the greatest of all time. BULL----!!” Naturally, this reeks of disingenuousness. Dad never once complained when his Bay Area athletes/coaches were lauded for their superlative performances. I never heard him take issue with the adulation heaped upon the likes of Montana, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh, Barry Bonds (pre-steroids), etc.
Since Dad can’t stand the fact that anyone would approach the records of the 49ers’ QB Joe Montana and coach Bill Walsh, he will diminish the solid play of the Patriots this season. And my prediction is he’ll do so by pointing out the past controversy of Belichick’s use of sideline cameras to spy on the opponent’s defensive signals. In fact, he’ll probably say word for word “How do we know this hasn’t been going on since New England starting winning Super Bowls?”
But what if the shoe were on the other foot? For example, what if one of Dad’s beloved athletes is on the verge of breaking a coveted record?
When Barry Bonds was in pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, many felt an asterisk should be placed next to Bonds’ home run total due to strong evidence linking him to performance enhancing drugs. Bonds’ alleged steroid use is traced back to the late 90s. Dad’s reaction? To slander previous record holders, of course. He’s said things like “How do we know Babe Ruth wasn’t on amphetamines? Those were available in the 1920s and 30s.” Dad also shamelessly threw out as fact that Aaron did “speed” when he was breaking Ruth’s all-time homer mark.
I know I’ve documented how Dad and I have had troubles in our relationship. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a source of amusement.