Wednesday was a strange, almost surreal, mix of news when it came to the New England Patriots.
From their White House visit with President Trump to celebrate the most recent of their five Super Bowl championships, to reactions to Tom Brady’s non-attendance at the event to the wholly unexpected news of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez’s apparent suicide in prison, it gave many the opportunity to bash from all different directions. But in the end, as usual, the ones doing the bashing and screaming for attention, look at best foolish, and at worst, opportunistic attention-seekers.
Most of the foolishness came from that never-ending wellspring of mindlessness known as Twitter.
When Brady announced he would not be attending, many Twitter users, mostly from media members hyperventilating not just to give their uninvited “hot takes” on the matter, but in a rush to be the first to react and show how clever they think they are.
For those unfamiliar, a hot-take is Twitterese for first reaction after hearing news. Well, actually, it is a desperate effort to get noticed as people race to be the first one whose 140-character-or-less observation gets attention, earning retweets and hoped-for Internet stardom. Frequently, it only results in justifiable mockery (thank you Twitchy.com) as the tweeters are exposed for being mostly unoriginal and ill-informed.
Brady, who has been out front since Day 1 in his support of Trump, stated he would not be attending due to “some personal family matters.” Of course any responsible media member (thankfully there were a few) would have done a little research to discover that Brady’s mother has cancer, which is more pressing than a perfunctory, outdated tradition. Brady also profusely thanked the president for “hosting this celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember” in his statement.
Many sought immediately to equate Brady’s absence to other nefarious reasons that are mostly figments of their angst-ridden Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Typical of the “hot take” mindset was this tweet from a self-described journalist: “When even Tom Brady doesn’t want to be in the photo with @realDonald Trump.” (Note of course he tagged Donald Trump). Ironically, this Twitter user runs something called “The School for Authentic Journalism.” Its home page shills endlessly for contributions.
One would think an “authentic” journalist would be more concerned with getting the backstory before tweeting.
But Brady’s absence does bring up a fair question and that is whether we have outgrown these White House visits by championship sports teams. At one time an invitation to the White House, regardless of the occupant’s party affiliation or views, was considered an honor. Too often now instead it becomes a grandstanding forum for those who disagree with the president politically.
It appears we, as a nation, no longer have the ability to understand these are non-political occasions and are simply meant to honor an admirable accomplishment.
However, the Brady hot-take mess wasn’t the only bit of news regarding the Patriots that allowed media folks to expose their foolishness and showed the good old-fashioned foot-in-mouth route still is in play.
The day started with news of Hernandez being found dead by hanging in his prison cell where he was serving life for murder, but had just been acquitted in recent days of a subsequent double-murder.
Hernandez hasn’t been a member of the Patriots since 2012, but that didn’t matter to some folks at ESPN, especially those who were “heartbroken” over the news of his death. No word on how much heartbreak they felt for his murder victim.
It didn’t stop there though as longtime ESPN reporter Bob Ley couldn’t believe the Patriots hadn’t canceled their White House visit because of Hernandez’s death. Could that be because the Patriots long ago disassociated themselves from Hernandez?
But it did show ESPN is not willing to stand pat and be surpassed by social media when it comes to still being one of the more reliable sources for old-school drivel. Take that, Twitter.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.