by Scott Benson
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been doing a little vacation traveling this week. So when I returned home yesterday I had received a few e-mails from readers who said that a former Pats employee had posted an alleged tell-all parting gift on a God-forsaken gambling blog located somewhere on the seedy underbelly of the Internet.
I admit, I clicked the link they sent, though I won’t repeat it here. What was written, if you can call it that, was so meanspirited and flat-out crazy that it demeans everything and everyone who comes in contact with it. Much like the individual who wrote it.
Thing is, by all appearances, he was a former Pats employee, one whose self-congratulatory wise-guy conduct and twisted life view (and public profile afforded by his employment) had already several times over made him quite notorious among web-savvy Pats fans. Meaning he worked for Patriots Football Weekly, the team’s in-house publication, despite the fact that he’s been crawling on his belly like a snake since birth. You can only imagine the sunshine this awful prick has been spreading in Foxborough and other NFL cities in recent seasons.
All on the team’s dime. All in the employ of the freaking house organ.
It’s a perverted, out of control enterprise that would even think of issuing a single paycheck to the likes of this vermin. Its a juvenile, hostile operation whose employees loudly and proudly claim “objectivity” even though they couldn’t accurately define the word if you spotted them a copy of Merriam-Webster. Because M-W doesn’t define objective as being “a pathological need to prove one’s independence by continually acting out like catty, miserable 15 year old girls.”
I don’t blame the individuals themselves for this untenable situation. After all, if your aim in life is to curry the favor of preening, look-at-me clowns like Ron Borges, if your aspirations are limited to simply aping their corrosive, worthless careers, then you deserve my pity, not my contempt.
No, the people who are ultimately responsible for this insanity are the Krafts themselves. They’ve been right about a lot of things since the late 80’s, when they first secured the rights to the land surrounding the old Foxboro Stadium. But they have been as woefully wrong about this as they were about Bobby Grier and Pete Carroll. Worse, when you consider that was a bumbling, wrongheaded misjudgement. This….this almost seems calculated.
Why this contempt for your customers, after all the support they’ve given you on every step of your journey to here? Why do you mistrust us so? Why you believe the only way you can turn a profit on this paper and its website is to turn a gaggle of needledicked Perez Hilton wannabees against the players and coaches who have done more than anyone to afford you the internationally-celebrated status you enjoy today? How can you believe this is what will motivate us to buy your products? How can you believe this is the way to treat the people who care the most about those products? By thinking they’re nothing but vapid moths who will only be attracted by the most garish light?
Like the man whose name adorns the gleaming trophies that now line your still new trophy cases used to say – what the hell is going on out there?
I will grant you that by ridding themselves of this lowlife, the Krafts have shown that all hope is not necessarily lost. I will grant you that what this creep did yesterday was entirely outside their control. Thing is, it isn’t the first time he’s done it. in fact, the team used to pay him to do it. Ask Chad Jackson about that sometime. Ask the other players he whispered about in his muckraking radio and podcast appearances. Ask the legitimate media members he used to slime under the cowardly protection of several different anonymous message board monikers. Ask the fans he so often gleefully dismissed as gullible yokels, as a means of underlining the ‘sophistication’ of his perverted observations and his ‘importance’ as a team employee?
All on the team’s dime. All in the employ of the freaking house organ.
What should an enterprise like Patriots Football Weekly be? I admit, the term ‘house organ’ isn’t a positive one, even for a publication that is by definition a team-sanctioned marketing effort. I think if I worked at PFW, I wouldn’t want to be perceived as a house boy either. I wouldn’t want to write articles about Kelley Washington’s coin collection or A Day In The Life Of Pat Patriot. I’d want to be able to say I thought the head coach made a tactical error or the quarterback threw an awful interception. I’d want to be able to say they whiffed on a draft pick or missed on a vet free agent.
In other words, I’d want to be able to tell the truth as I saw it, regardless of whether that truth happened to be favorable to the team at that point in time. No reasonable person could begrudge the PFW staff for wanting that. No reasonable person could begrudge the Krafts for thinking their fans wouldn’t buy a paper filled with pap about Dean Pees’ piano favorites. Because they’re right.
So, it is a fine line we’re walking here, in the pursuit of a publication that promotes the team while also critically assessing its efforts. I can’t rightfully condemn them for this episode without acknowledging that what they’re trying to do with PFW isn’t an easy thing at all. I wouldn’t want that job, even if I was qualified for it. I don’t have the sort of professional judgement that would be needed to make something out of that minefield.
But exactly how much professional judgement do you really need to know that whispers about your head coach’s personal life or his professional tactics isn’t the way to do it? How much professional judgement is required for you to know that pissing on the reputation of your team’s most admired players is never a legitimate way to line your own pockets? How much professional judgement is needed to know that you never – NEVER – hand a desk and a key to the office to the kind of guy who would end up doing you and everyone else this way?
On the whole, I consider myself football blessed that the Krafts came along when they did, saving this region’s professional football team and leading it to heretofore unimagineable heights. I’m secure in the belief that job one remains fielding the most competitive team possible, year in and year out, and I’m equally secure in the belief they have more than proven their capacity to effectively do that job. None of what we’re discussing today is disruptive in any way to that, as much as contemptable bottom feeders like Tom Casale wish that were so. They would die happy if only they could ruin everyone else’s life as much as they’ve ruined their own.
But the fact is, the Krafts have taken a benign team-issued marketing piece and turned it into an attack dog against the very thing they have worked so hard to build. Even worse, the mess they should have seen coming has now gotten all over innocent bystanders, including players and coaches who have done nothing but give you everything you could have ever asked for, media members who have done nothing but treat you fairly and honestly, and fans who have done nothing but support the whole lot of you through thick and thin.
The fact is that the final accountability for this whole sorry episode – and everything that preceeded it – rests with the Krafts. The fact is they’ve failed spectacularly with this initiative, and since they’ve taken it upon themselves to foist this crap on us, the responsbility for cleaning it up should fall squarely to them.
As noted above, the job of putting out a team publication that holds some value to consumers is a challenging one. There may be intrinsic barriers in place that make such a task quite impossible after all. There’s a certain segment of society that will forever dismiss your efforts no matter how “objective” you strive to be.
That’s no excuse for aiming squarely at the lowest common denominator, and trying to sell us a subscription to it. That just shows us no respect at all.