Dear Tom – I came to the United States after a childhood spent in hero-worshipping British soccer players. Whether from the Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal football clubs, these teams contained individuals who were nothing less than spectacular in their extraordinary athletic ability, heroic gamesmanship, and the adulation they inspired because of the stratospheric standards of play that they brought to the game.
Then I came to America, and I saw American football. At first, and for a very long time, I viewed this sport as a game fit for elephants and bears. I just couldn’t understand how anyone with the slightest sense of athletic ability could ever call this game a sport. Not only did it welcome an entire litany of physical violence which, if committed off the field, would have created a rap sheet of creative assaults as long as the NFL bank account, but it also seemed to stop every few moments just when you thought something was actually moving along. And to make it worse, the commentators would rattle on endlessly about strategy (sic) peppered with details about sacks, runs, plays that would have overwhelmed a double-humped giraffe !!
And then, Tom, I watched you and the Patriots. Already a rising star, not only in American football but also in the eyes of those who knew of your great potential, discipline, uncommon abilities, great athleticism – in fact, you were already an all-round superman about to surpass even his abilities. And not just in the football world, but in the greater ESPN world of sports everywhere. I saw how people worshipped you, elevated you, spoke with such esteem about you…it would be no exaggeration to say that you truly have been nothing less than a hero in the world of sports, which, you know, is a pretty huge territorial and virtual universe. I saw you Tom, and the Patriots, and I was sold on the game. Like a master artist at work, you transformed my skepticism, and you transformed me into a concerned spectator of the sport (note the term I just used !!) to the extent that I became a great fan of yours, and an even greater fan of the Ravens. You made me a believer and for this you were my secret tutor and teacher.
But now you entered the very sordid and sorry world of cheating (let’s not call it any other word). The scandal of Deflategate is possibly the most insignificant, stupid, and, at times, laughable incident to his the sports news. After all, its not wife beating, criminal assault, and definitely not murder. And, Tom, as you yourself admitted: it’s not ISIS. And you are so right: it’s not.
But do you know what it is ? It is the need for even the most adulated and adored player in sports history having to do something illegal in order to attain that level of adoration. It is the need to cheat in order to maintain and even surpass the record of a superman (FOUR super bowl rings !!) at whatever the cost to your standing, your character, your integrity, and to the final decision of history. You had it all, Tom….did you really have to demean yourself, put your entire life’s sports successes in such jeopardy as to do this ? And then lie and deny it all away to the world !! In this regard Tom, you became no different than anyone else, and all you showed us was how far you had fallen from the heights of being extraordinary to the depths of being just ordinary. That’s the real story of Deflategate. And our question to you is: Do you still deserve to be called a Patriot for having acted in the most unpatriotic of ways ?
I do so much hope that my own personal sports hero whom I have embraced and followed these past twenty years, Roger Federer, allows me a lifetime of adulation as a true hero, who never compromises that admiration and hero-worship by any act that will deflate my esteem while always inflating my pride of his greatness both off and on the field.
Chaim R. Landau