A beleaguered Patriots fan explains how the circus surrounding Deflategate has allowed him to see the NFL for what it is—and set him free
BY JAMIE CONWAY
I’m out. I’m done with the NFL.
I hate the owners—Robert Kraft included—who clearly don’t care about fans like me. I hate the media covering the NFL, even the media who are deferential to the Patriots or at least to due process. I hate the draft. I hate the playoffs. I hate the Super Bowl. Most of all I hate the NFL, DirecTV, ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC, fantasy football and every platform that has made the NFL a religion. Mark Cuban predicted the NFL would implode over its own greed and arrogance and drive away fans, and in my case he was right. I’ve reached my saturation point. I’m tired of caring about this dumb set of 32 corporations.
My favorite team won the Super Bowl on one of the most exciting plays in NFL history, but that play that has barely been viewed as a success of the Patriots and largely seen as a failure of Pete Carroll, because the media love counterintuitive angles. And now the Patriots have been dismembered and destroyed by the media and the league for one of the most absurd accusations of all time. The only positive note for Pats owner Robert Kraft outside the Boston bubble has been praise for his capitulating to the league’s disciplinary process. Fans around the country take glee in his decision not to pursue an appeal rather than seeing it for what it was—a savvy business decision in an unwinnable scenario. Those same fans are trying to reinforce false narratives about both Spygate and Deflategate. It’s like arguing with climate change deniers—I can’t fight someone who refuses to listen.
I’m open-minded and considered the Wells report a disaster for the Patriots until I read past page 20. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme, none of it matters. No writer is winning a Pulitzer for covering America's most popular sport, no network is winning Emmys. The NFL is just an ATM machine. I’ve invested in rooting for a corporation I have no monetary interest in.
I have scheduled the canceling of DirecTV for the day before this NFL season, after having it my entire adult life and getting comped the football package a half dozen times. I am shuttering the fantasy football league that I’ve commissioned for a decade. I’m opting out of two Vegas leagues that I won thousands on last year. I’m tired of caring about something that’s meaningless. Very fun, but meaningless.
Now I no longer have to hate anything: the NFL or Roger Goodell or the money-grubbing owners or the media. I no longer have to hate the constant rules changes put in place to keep up with smart teams.
I hope this is Roger Goodell’s legacy. He’s freed an obsessive fan from a trap. Like any addict, there will be bumps along the road and people trying to enable my return. (For instance, DirecTV's last-ditch offer of an enticing array of free programming including the NFL package, or NFL.com doing an about face to praise the Pats dynasty.) Maybe if someone like Adam Silver helms the NFL at some point, I’ll return. But as of right now, I’m out.
Jamie Conway is a lifelong Patriots fan from Marion, Mass.
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