HOUSTON – It is not easy for real life to penetrate the fantasy of the Super Bowl – especially with the NFL guarding the gate.
The New York Times was keeping score during Monday night’s mass media feeding.
The Times noted there were several questions to the Patriots dealing with their contentious relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and their chummy relationship with President Trump (owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all were big supporters). And yet, as it wrote, “Of the transcripts provided for the interviews with 26 of the Patriots players and coaches and 28 of the Falcons players and coaches, the name “Trump” does not appear in any of them, and the word “president” appears only in reference to team presidents, despite reporters’ having asked about them. The name “Goodell” appears just once.”
The transcripts had been sanitized for their protection.
Granted, none of the parties said much about either of the subjects. Brady already had put a muzzle on his father concerning the four-game suspension he served for deflategate.
Last week Tom Brady Sr. told a San Francisco TV station: "What the league did to him and what Roger Goodell constantly lied about is beyond reprehensible as far as I'm concerned." Brady Sr. said Friday in defending his son. "(Goodell) went on a witch hunt and went in way over his head and had to lie his way out in numerous ways and the reality is that Tommy never got suspended for deflating footballs. He got suspended because the court said that he could. Roger Goodell could do anything that he wanted to do to any player for any reason whatsoever.”
That will be pretty much the last good quote heard from anyone within the Patriots family for a while.
You had to actually be at Brady’s podium to hear him deflect questions about the prospect of accepting the Super Bowl Lombardi trophy from his nemesis, the commissioner. No mention was made of it on the transcript, the Times said.
And you didn’t really need to be around Belichick to guess how he reacted when asked about the fuss stirred up by Trump.
Again from the Times: “I’m focused on our team and for getting ready for Sunday,” he said, lips clenched.
Colin Kaepernick aside, this business remains one of escapism. Of all the sports, the NFL does the best job of erecting a veil between itself and the issues of the day – which is why the Kaepernick protest gained such notoriety. And, really, the main characters involved Monday did fine work in distancing themselves from controversy. The league just came in and finished the job.