Clarifying Tom Brady's remarks
Don't be a fool.
That, to me, is the only clarifying statement New England needed to make in regards to Tom Brady's comments after he was asked by a reporter if he had a message for Pats fans before the season's home opener. He said: "Yeah, start drinking early. Get nice and rowdy. It's a 4:15 game, they'll have a lot of time to get lubed up, come out here and cheer for their home team."
In other words, go out, have a few beers, and be really loud and crazy so San Diego QB Phillip Rivers is forced to burn timeouts because his O-line can't hear him. In no way is he suggesting people should start fights in the stands or drive home drunk or do anything else stupid. And any fan who is old enough to actually get lubed up at Gillette Stadium, is old enough to know Brady's comment was not a mandate to go out and be an idiot.
And even if Brady did want fans to be idiots, that doesn't mean fans are obligated to do so.
They're people, not sheep.
Still, none of that messy commonsense stuff stopped the Pats' front office from dispatching a spokesperson to clean up what wasn't even a mess in the first place, saying Brady "wants everyone to drink a lot of water, stay hydrated. Drink responsibly."
Now, thanks to the ridiculousness of that statement, much of the attention has been directed away from Brady and toward the front office, which, if that was the team's intent, was a brilliant strategy.
But I doubt it.
The fact is that the Patriots' front office felt the need to gnaw off a piece of its integrity because personal responsibility is coyote ugly in our culture.
Here's what they're thinking: If someone were to start a fight after the game, somehow Brady and the Patriots could be blamed because the team's captain told fans to get "lubed up" and "rowdy."
In addition, Foxborough residents are already irritated by the drunks who leave Gillette after games and concerts, which is why earlier this year voters passed a bylaw that creates a $200 fine for public drunkenness. Brady's statements could be misconstrued as encouraging fans to break the new law. And since he's the face of the franchise, his funny little quip could make him partially responsible if something bad were to happen.
I wish I was being over the top in describing the subtext, but I'm not.
Leroy McKelvey was decked out in Cowboys gear when he snuck a stun gun into the Jets' MetLife Stadium on Sunday. McKelvey later got into a skirmish with a Marine who may have been upset with McKelvey, who is a Jehovah's Witness, because he didn't stand for the national anthem and was talking loud during "Taps" and "Amazing Grace." During the altercation, McKelvey fired the weapon, injuring the Marine and two other people. And somehow, in the middle of all of that, McKelvey's son managed to assign blame to Jets coach Rex Ryan for the incident because at a press conference earlier in the week the coach said, "It's probably not recommended that you wear Cowboys stuff" to the game.
Dude brought a stun gun into the stadium the day after the nation reflected on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, and Sexy Rexy is to blame?
Are you kidding me?
But that's what we do now, finger-point.
And when you add that to a delusional sense of entitlement that tricks some fans into believing their ticket stub doubles as either a key to the city or a get-out-of-jail-free card, you can potentially end up with pockets of jackasses sprinkled around any stadium. Usually they're just obnoxious. But sometimes they become violent -- like the men who jumped the San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium or the ones involved in the shootings at Candlestick Park following a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. When I hear about these stories and others, like parents who go ballistic during their kids' games, I wonder, what in the hell is wrong with people? And then I think, if we actually knew the answer to that question, would we even be able to hold them accountable for what they've done or would they simply blame someone or something else for their behavior?
Political correctness started with good intention but has since been abused and now erodes what it means to be held responsible for our own actions. That erosion was crystallized in the Pats' follow-up to Brady's honest recognition that some fans like to get ripped before games. Hardly breaking news, but instead of being grown-ups about it, there's this nonsense statement floating around about staying hydrated on a day forecast to have a high of 66 degrees.
So for all of you in the parking lots and stands at games this weekend, don't be a fool.
That's all the Pats needed to say.
And even that seems like four words too long.
LZ Granderson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.