Brady, Belichick and the Patriots: Facts and Non-Fiction

As the NFL playoff frenzy continues to build approaching conference championship weekend, all eyes and ears seemingly turn to the Patriots and their coach and quarterback. A little Fact and Non-Fiction for consideration:

Brady and Belichick
Brady and Belichick
Fact: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had an amazing and perhaps unparalleled run, winning 3 Super Bowls (without a loss), and following it up with an undefeated regular season.

Fact: The fact is that the previously unbeatable Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are 0-fer in Superbowls since they were caught cheating and the “When given 2 weeks to prepare, no one will out prepare Bill Belichick!” statement sounds lazy and uninformed today.

Non-Fiction: With media darling Peyton Manning out early in yet another highly anticipated playoff run, the beautiful and talented Tom Brady will now get the lion’s share of attention as the young whippersnappers Flacco, Ryan and Copernicus will be grouped together.

Vince Ferragamo: Hopeful heartthrob coming back from Canada
Vince Ferragamo: Hopeful heartthrob coming back from Canada
Fact: While the NFL’s leading supermodel impregnator has lost the Prince Valiant haircut, he’s also trying to prove he hasn’t lost his on-field big game mojo. Since his coaches were caught cheating (to give him and his teammates an unfair advantage), this “Guaranteed first ballot HOFer” with “the clutch gene” has reminded us more of Dan Pastorini or even Vince Ferragamo than Joe Montana. Barely over .500.

Non-Fiction: Pastorini, Ferragamo and post-Spygate Brady are all Good looking, physically talented QBs from unusual pre-NFL glory situations who had great regular season success and were average to slightly above average in the playoffs.

Fact: Brady and Belichick have proven to be above average at their craft since the cheating scandal and associated sanctions for said cheating.

Non-Fiction: There’s no shame in just being above average in crunch time, but please… Vince Lombardi should never again be invoked when talking about Belichick and Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw should never again be invoked when talking about Tom Brady.

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“Gate”-gate: A Travesty Analyzed – Breaking News

I think there is an emerging scandal that needs attention.  The “Gate-ing” of non-“Gate”-worthy scandals is a growing epidemic and it’s making me angry.  It is an insult to former President Richard Milhous Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, and the rest of the Watergate gang to try to “-Gate” these minor scandals/dust-ups and put them on the level of the the G-Men’s “work” back in the 70s.  It’s the 40th Anniversary of the original “Gate” for crying out loud, so it’s time to act… and I intend to!

The one and only original “gate”

So which scandals qualify for “-Gate” status?  Let’s evaluate a small sampling (10), of the “best” of the many contenders:

Travelgate at the White House began in May 1993 and really got the “-Gate” business going when seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired and replaced with friends of the Clintons.  During multiple investigations the discovery of reportedly false statements made by the first lady drove the Clintons to reinstate most of the employees and remove the Clinton associates from the travel office.  A 7-year+ investigation involving the White House, FBI, multiple Special Counsels, and the Attorney General = YES, it’s “-Gate”-worthy.

Bill & Hillary Clinton were at the center of the new “-Gating” craze

Troopergate began with the allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton and the scandal escalated to include salacious and serious accusations regarding Paula Jones (who was paid $850K by the President), Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and White House intern Monica Lewinsky (leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998.  YES

Spygate was born when with the New England Patriots were found to be secretly taping NY Jets (and likely other teams), signals to gain an unfair advantage.  I would have originally voted NO to “-Gate” status for this but upon further review the facts do show an amazing pattern: 3-0 in Super Bowls while spying and cheating, 0-2 in Super Bowls since caught cheating.  That’s a YES.

Bagelgate occurred at a Fortune 500 company’s Annual Meeting in New York when the regular practice of serving breakfast at the stockholder meeting was changed by the incoming CEO, angering long-time stockholders who typically would make a day of it by eating at the meeting, voting their shares (or single share of stock in some cases), and catching a matinee at the theater.  The Q&A was dominated by elderly stockholders asking the new CEO why there were no bagels or other breakfast items provided for them at this year’s meeting.  Hilarious, but not a “-Gate” – NO

Nipplegate – Singer Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s right breast to 89.8 million viewers in a staged “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII causing an uproar and national debate about decency in modern culture as well as FCC fines for CBS.  The most viewed breast and nipple in recorded history = YES

Editgate – NBC TV edited a 911 recording in a way that made the motivation for the shooting of Trayvon Martin appear racial.  Powerful case but not “-Gate-worthy”-NO

Nannygate – A 1993 political controversy over nomination of Zoë Baird and near-nomination of Kimba Wood for U.S. Attorney General were withdrawn due to their hiring of illegal aliens as nannies or the failure to pay taxes for them. The soon-to-be chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. government and head of the United States Department of Justice breaking the law?… YES

Paterno/Spanier-gate at Penn State (hey, that rhymes!) – too soon to say but the coverup to hide the actions of a pedophile coach looks extensive and linked to the highest levels of power.  TBD

Camillagate was a Royal affair

Camillagate – Scandal which resulted from a tape of a telephone conversation between the married Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles in 1993; the tabloids leaked the details of an intimate recording in which Prince Charles told Camilla that he longed to be her tampon.  I’m still speechless about the content but not quite a “-Gate” – NO

Weinergate – U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account linked to a picture of a bulging penis (in underwear).  Weiner said his account had been hacked, but later admitted he sent the tweet; numerous other lewd photographs from the married congressman were later “revealed.”  All-time great NY Post tabloid headline (“HIDE THE WEINER”), but not a “-Gate” –so… NO

OK, so our analysis of these 10 media-anointed “-Gate” scandals shows that only half of them met the standard set by “all the President’s men.”  And these are only a handful of the dozens and dozens that people dare to bestow with the vaunted “-Gate” suffix.  This is Watergate we’re talking here… the biggest coverup in american government history; to besmirch it with Weinergates and other inferiors is tantamount to insulting the constitution itself.  It’s not right.   It will not stand.  Why?  I’ll tell you why… Because I’m here, I’m angry and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

“Gate”-ing is only for the worthy.

UPDATE: Since the publishing of this entry several new unworthy “gates” have emerged (which I won’t detail here), and a new “one-to watch” – namely, “Deflate-gate.”  It seems a ballboy at the mighty USC Trojans football program deflated half the footballs (the ones USC QB Matt Barkley would throw), for the recent USC-Oregon football game.  You see, a football slightly deflated below official specs is easier to grip, throw and catch than a typical new game ball.  Results?  Already considered a top QB prospect USC’s Barkley exploded for 303 passing yards and 3 TD passes… in the 1st half!  At half-time, officials discovered the cheating and the seeds of “Deflate-gate” were born.  USC coach Lane Kiffin and everyone else with the program claim the ballboy was a “lone pin-man” who inserted that pin and masterminded the deflatement.  We should all follow this carefully to see if this one becomes worthy of the “Gate” suffix.

USC’s Coach Lane Kiffin: Innocent preppy leader or Nixon 2?

 

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The Bradley Fighting Stroller (and Reinforcements)

When did baby carriages and strollers start to come outfitted like Bradley Fighting Vehicles being reinforced for DMZ combat?   Do we really need strollers with, “coil spring and elastomer core shock absorbers and pneumatic tires with schrader valves?”

This 2-turret model enables 360 degree viewing coverage by a pair of driver/occupants

These tricked out behemoths are taking over our sidewalks (which are already made smaller because every bar, deli and diner now has a Frenchie style “sidewalk café” table or two in front).  The last time I checked they were still called sideWALKs, not sideSITs and they certainly weren’t designed for NASCAR-style stroller racing by Manhattan mommies in their sparkling Skechers Shape-ups.

I thought I had seen it all in the strollers as monster trucks category but I was wrong.  I’ve now also seen a triple decker model as well… that’s right, a double stroller with a 3rd crow’s nest seat bolted on above the double (I would assume that the kid that gets that “pole position” spot earned it at potty training time-trial qualifying).

What’s next?  Motorized baby cycles with sidecars à la Col. Klink and Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes?  I sincerely hope that just by saying that I haven’t inspired Vespa or BMW to enter the fray.

An urban “tiny tank” factory has opened in my once-safe neighborhood

Update:  Since my first battles with these combat-ready baby and toddler tanks that were imported from NJ or Long Island a new menace has been added to the war zone – it is called “Giggle” and it produces all manner of sidewalk carnage-causing machines in my own freaking neighborhood!

This cannot stand!  We must rise up and take back our sidewalks or who knows what is next!  Who’s with me?

 

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Pros vs. Joes

Are amateurs killing your team?  Does it make you angry?  If you’re a Redskins, Cowboys or Bobcats fan you’d have to answer “Yes.”  If you work for a technology firm (or most B2B companies), the answer may surprise you.

“Pros vs. Joes” is how some describe the lopsided battles between expertly trained specialists (Pro-fessionals) and enthusiastic amateurs (Joes).  Those battles may begin with the scrappy, confident amateur showing a flash of skill or promise but they don’t end well for the Joes do they?  Defeated, red-faced and frustrated is how those match-ups end.

Amazingly, in sports ownership and business today there is a fair amount of “Pros vs. Joes” competition going on but interestingly many of these “Joes” don’t consider themselves amateurs because they are (or were), a successful professional (albeit at something else).

NBA great Michael Jordan struck out as a baseball player

Michael Jordan was the consummate professional basketball player of his era but has proven to be an “Average Joe” (and saying he’s been average is just me being nice), at running basketball franchises (or playing pro baseball for that matter).  A Joe who thinks he’s a Pro.

Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Daniel Snyder (Washington Redskins) bought their way into big time NFL ownership after being successful “Pros” in Oil and Advertising respectively and each decided they could run their franchises themselves and have been abysmal failures competing with real “Pros” on the field.  This has been true despite each of them having virtually unlimited resources.  Year after year, these Joes keep going though.

Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones ordering pizza for their NFL “Fantasy” draft?

Even old George Steinbrenner (R.I.P.), eventually learned that he needed to hire and empower experts with specialized skills and experience for his organization to win consistently on the field.

The business equivalent of  “Pros vs. Joes” are corporate senior executives who “play” at Marketing.  By virtue of their exalted status in the company they can insert themselves into Marketing strategy and tactics (and they do).  Hey, they took a Marketing class or two in college and they KNOW which TV ads are good or not, so they’re qualified to make Marketing decisions, right?

Why do they do it?  Because they can and because it’s fun for them!  A reward for their success after years of “paying their dues” I guess.  Unfortunately, it leads to disappointing marketing results and a cycle of failure that keeps repeating as long as these Senior Execs “help” with Marketing.  Hire a CMO, increase the budget, miss Sales and ROI targets, cut the budget, fire the CMO, rinse and repeat.  The befuddling constant in this cycle is letting non-experts (“Joes”) get involved and make decisions.  They don’t let amateurs make Engineering or Sales decisions yet they when they do it themselves in Marketing they’re shocked and frustrated when Marketing fails.

Professional CEO? Marketing Amateur Joe? (or both)?

Look, I play in a fantasy football league and do pretty well (my beloved Swamp Foxes with our spicy Laura Croft logo won another title last year), and I’d love a shot at actually doing it for real. Heck, I even played some ball and could throw it 70 yards back in the day so I’m as qualified as anyone, right?

No.

People who can and do use money and/or power to compete head-to-head with real Pros deserve to get clobbered and fail; those who repeat the cycle should be treated for insanity.  Stick to what know Joe-

Michael Jordan’s top picks for the Wizards (#1 Overall), and the Bobcats (#3 Overall) exemplify his “Joe-ness” as an owner.

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Why Do We Expect a Scorpion Not to Sting?

Why do we expect the NFL to care about player safety and the integrity of the game when we know all they really care about is money?

Why do we expect a new CMO to only fix what’s broken when we know they’re 100% predisposed to do a flashy branding/rebranding exercise?

Why do we forget “The Frog and Scorpion” Tale?

Why do we expect politicians to do what’s best for their constituents when we know they’ll always do what’s best for themselves?

Why do we expect our favorite team to replace a fired coach with the best candidate when we know they’ll hire the “safest” option who is the most opposite of the last guy?

Why do we expect universities to use that billion dollar+ endowment to keep/make college affordable when we know they’ll use it all to grow bigger? {And why do we keep donating money to that university when we know the above is true?}

Why do we believe TV networks will obey the “commercials will never be louder than the program” regulations?

Why do we expect business leaders to really lead with the long term in mind when we know they’ll mortgage the future to make the number this quarter?

Why do we expect that this particular scorpion won’t sting that innocent, unlucky “target”?

Is it the hope that better things are just ahead?  Drinking-related memory issues perhaps?  Insanity?  Cockeyed optimism?  Well, why do we check the coin slot to see if a quarter is in there?…  Because sometimes there is a quarter in there and last time, I found a Sacajawea dollar coin.  That’s why-

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The Limits of National Pride

Living in America, you get to see many very overt shows of national pride. Many buildings and businesses fly the stars and stripes, people at national events take off their hats, place their hands over their hearts and listen or sing along to the National Anthem and political rallies resonate with the sound of the audience chanting the letters U, S, A.

So all in all it’s clear that America is a very patriotic nation, that truly believes in the exceptional nature of itself, and frankly this feeling is honest and often well deserved.

National pride also extends to its men and women who serve in the armed forces. The four arms of the forces (Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines) are all well respected, with civilians regularly showing their respect to vets with comments such as “Thank you for your service”.

There have been times when politics has muddied the waters a little, with veterans returning from wars in Asia not always given the warm and supportive welcome home they deserved. And honor guards to honor the returning dead from more recent wars were at times been shrouded in some levels of secrecy. But these acts driven by politicians and those who were trying to make a political point at the expense of these returning heroes were eventually shown for the mistake they were, and were apologized for and (hopefully) learnt from.

And recently we had the Olympics, where the whole of the United States got behind the US team. The papers were full of descriptions of every performance. Whole swathes of TV broadcasting was turned over to the games. In fact the biggest controversy was that not enough games were being shown, people wanted more!

So for a country that takes every opportunity to display its National Pride, how was it that the Paralympics were absolutely and totally ignored!

Two weeks after the end of the London Olympics the worlds para-athletes gathered in the same location for the world Paralympics. And the United States sent a large team. There was a huge opening ceremony, followed by weeks of incredible sport, followed by most of the world and a very impressive closing ceremony (by all accounts). And in American the coverage was incredible, every channel offer equal time. No channels were differnt, every channel on TV, Radio and in print offered exactly the same coverage. And the coverage from each and every station, channel, publication and website in the United States of America was exactly ZERO.

Yes that’s right, the country which spends so much time talking about its exceptionalism and patriotism, didn’t think it was interesting or important to support its citizens who were disabled.

I just don’t have the words to express how shocking I find this.

Jessica Long , USA Gold Medal Winner

One of the presidential candidates this cycle was the head of an Olympic organization for a winter games in the US, and even he hasn’t been talking about this lack of support for these amazingly talented sports stars.

America won nearly 100 medals in the 2012 London Paralypmics.

31 Gold medals, 29 Silver medals and 38 bronze medals

The USA Paralympic team at London 2012

233 United States of America athletes completed in total.

When they arrive home, will there be any public recognition of their amazing success?

I hope so!

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Social Media = Domesticating a Wild Animal?

All organizations now have some sort of a digital strategy and “social media marketing” as part of their plan.

It seems like a no-brainer – Facebook and Twitter accounts are free and we can use the interns and “young employees” along with a few extra cycles from the PR guy.  It’s Win-Win.  Free advertising.  No foreseeable downside, right?

Example For Your Review: A major college football program (Arizona State), and their conference which generates more than a quarter of a billion dollars per season (The Pac 12), learned the hard way that it isn’t always “Win-Win” with no downside.  The program recently had its pre-season “Pac 12 Media Days” and scheduled press conferences with Q&A for each team’s head coach, including ASU’s new leader Todd Graham.  “Use that interweb social media stuff to promote the event!” was the likely command from the 60+ year old university leadership to the underpaid 22 year-old running social media for the school, along with, “Do your Tweeter thing and get us some new viewers!”   The young social marketer thought it would be a great idea to get fans involved in the Q&A by allowing them to tweet questions directly to the coachvia the #AskASU hashtag during the televised event in front of a room full of media.  Well, what occurred was what is known as a “hijacking” – In this case, fans of ASU’s new coach’s previous team (the Pitt Panthers), took this opportunity to ask their former leader a “few” questions about the circumstances of his abrupt and unexpected departure last December.

You see, less than a year after being hired to a 5-year contract by Pitt (and unbeknownst to his employers), Graham took another job to coach the Arizona State University football team.  He informed his team and Pitt via a text forwarded to a Pitt football administrator.  Graham took a lot of heat in the national media, especially in football-crazy Pittsburgh.  Ridiculed during his 1-year Pitt tenure for his use of football platitudes like “high-octane offense” and panned for throwing his players under the figurative bus, there was no love lost between the coach and the Steel City.  He also called ASU his “dream job” after saying the exact same thing about his previous employer 12 months earlier.

The Twitter “question” queue was completely dominated by Pitt tweets and included:

Coach when you mentioned speed speed speed, were you then hinting at how fast you would be leaving Pitt? #AskASU

Coach G, you do realize that allowing transfers without penalty is only a privilege for Penn State students, right? #AskASU

#AskASU coach, what are your thoughts on having more wins than Joe Pa last year? Will you use that for your next dream job?

What genius catchphrase will you invent this year that’s bound to be taken so seriously by the students in Tempe? #AskASU

Coach, would you leave Penni if an opportunity for a “dream” wife came along? #AskASU

#AskASU so how do you feel about email breakups

Coach Graham, I know what it feels like to be unfairly vilified. You have my support. #AskASU #PennState#Misunderstood [Eds. note: That’s a fake Mike McQueary account.]


#AskASU Coach,aren’t you glad you don’t have those pesky Steelers hanging around YOUR cafeteria

Have you put your house on the market yet? #AskASU

Hey Todd, my grandmas cat passed away, can you text her the bad news. I dont have the heart. #AskASU

Coach Graham- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop…or do you just quit licking and leave half-way? #AskASU

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Todd (aka Fraud) Graham: Did social media help get him labeled as “the devil himself?”

-Win-win?  No downside?  Maybe not.  This hijacking was so thorough that news outlets saw how high it was trending and wrote stories about it and the coach in question.  His status as a pariah and example of what’s wrong with college sports is now complete.

Trying to use social media to promote your company or organization is a little like trying to domesticate a chimpanzee or tiger… it’s a only a matter of when you’ll get bitten so think about the risks and prepare for the good and the bad that comes with this “free” marketing/PR.

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Pennsylvania Reboot?

The Statue Was A Major Tourist Draw

With all the unpleasantness in State College, PA related to the details of the crimes and cover-up, trials, the firing, the statue downing, sanctions, appeals of sanctions (which could actually trigger the narrowly avoided college football “death penalty”), etc., it is easy overlook the potential economic impact of everything on the Pennsylvania economy.  Large numbers of visitors have flocked to central PA for college football in the Fall for generations and they often stay longer than just Saturday night and also return to PA to experience other fun attractions and activities.  They tell friends and before you know it, Pennsylvania tourism is a model that other states try to emulate.

But what about now?  What can draw visitors to PA each month in the post-Paterno era?  Locals are worried and angry but not short on ideas.  I’ve consulted experts in marketing, local tourism and Pennsylvania (as well as potential political candidates and other locals), and here is a sampling of their plans:

-Groundhog Saturdays in Punxatawney (Can anyone really get enough Phil?)

-“Pennsylvania Steagles” football games each weekend featuring surviving members of the original, legendary NFL Steagles and their children (and grandchildren)

Noxen, PA Rattlesnake Roundups* Each Week (*”Rattlesnake Roundup Now Safer ’cause They’re Tired!”)

Mauch Chunk, PA Bought Some Bones and Became Jim Thorpe, PA

-The town of Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe, PA will now have a weekly renaming ceremony and parade with the remains of the famous athlete serving as Grand Marshall on odd-numbered weekends. “We’d like to get JoePa up there with Big Jim at some point; statue or bones is cool with us.” said one football loving PA local.

Lebanon Bologna Drops at 11:59pm each Fri/Sat in addition to their legendary New Year’s Eve Bologna Drop.  The Lebanon Bologna companies already sponsor a Bologna Fest and can easily alternate in sponsoring a weekly “Bologna & Eggs Breakfast Social!” the next morning serving the previous night’s projectile (note: a 200+ pounder has been dropped in recent years).  This new weekly charity event is a natural for big time PA college football fans, because, who is more “full of bologna” they are.  Sure, it is a letdown from their catered tailgates with lobster, pierogies with gold flakes and filet mignon, but how better to reintegrate with the regular and average folk of Pennsylvania, than to share their peasant food and traditions?

Politician, Power Lawyer and Super-Nerd Dick Thornburgh

-Dick Thornburgh look-a-like contests in the state capitol of Harrisburg to both honor the former governor and US Attorney General but also to give some glory to Pennsylvania’s nerds and other bespectacled locals and visitors.

So, keep an eye out for these and other and great new PA promotions, let us know your ideas, and remember, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania!” (35)

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