Wading into the political waters with a recent article describing the New England Patriots as “the preferred team of white nationalists,” Corbin Smith of the Daily Beast wastes little time in ascribing many negative qualities to the team — and to legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Though the somewhat sensational lede may be taken at face value or as tongue in cheek satire — it’s not eminently clear which — it is quite a grand claim to be making on the eve of Super Bowl LIII, where the Patriots will square off against the Los Angeles Rams. Coming to the world live via the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, Super Bowl LIII is expected to attract record viewership as the dominant Patriots face off with the equally vibrant Rams.
The game isn’t the primary focus of Corbin’s piece, however — the politics surrounding the sport are. The article in question immediately launches into an invective-filled tirade against both Brady and his teammates, with little room for doubt as to the author’s personal inclinations. Citing a short, rousing speech that Brady made to pump up his colleagues — and his fans — the columnist seems to veer the topic away from the immediate subject into the partisan weeds.
“WE’RE STILL HERE! WE’RE STILL HERE! Obviously, Brady is referring to his aging, decrepit, cheating-ass squad’s progression to the big game. But, imagine you didn’t know anything about football, or who Tom Brady was, or anything like that. You would think that you were watching some square-jawed grifter throwing red meat to the hogs at an alt-right rally, screaming at the libs who thought Nancy Pelosi and her gender warriors were gonna keep DECENT AMERICAN FOLKS from BEING HERE.”
"It doesn’t matter if the Patriots like it or not, they are the official team of American White Nationalism, the MAGA Boys On the Field."— NESN (@NESN) February 2, 2019
This Daily Beast writer went off on the Patriots and all of Boston sports:https://t.co/2QrjEp2ssO pic.twitter.com/r8usdUxnDI
The outrage contained within the Daily Beast article — notably not contained to an opinion or editorial section — doesn’t end there. Going on to castigate Brady’s — and coach Bill Belichick’s — low-key Trump support as being also indicative of white nationalist sentiment, citing the MAGA hat as evidence, Corbin would continue to elucidate a long laundry list of perceived offenders. Calling the entirety of Boston sports, as an institution, racist “from root to stem” — citing legendary Boston Celtics player Larry Byrd as evidence — the writer would then proceed to attack certain sports media outlets for their alleged complicity in spreading hate.
“And hey, it’s not like their fans are cool guys, either! Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, a toxic masculinity-humping outpost for the world’s worst people, is a Boston sports fan.”
The article has created a wave of anger in and of itself, with Breitbart columnist Joel Pollak indicating that the reaction on Twitter has — so far — been largely negative in response to the piece.
It seems doubtful that the vast majority of football fans will engage in this level of abstract discourse surrounding their favorite sport, instead preferring to enjoy the big game from the comfort of the stands — or from their living room couch. There, far from the 24 / 7 news cycle which now seems to permeate every facet of culture from video games to athletic contests, it seems most likely that the will root for their team of choice — Patriots or Rams — without much consideration for partisan political narratives.
On the other hand, as the Washington Post claims in a recent story, controversy sells — and the nature of political advertisements being popularized during prime Super Bowl time is more evidence of that.