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Donald Trump and the New England Patriots – Why This Matters

Donald Trump and the New England Patriots – Why This Matters

Let me start this off by saying that you can be a fan of the New England Patriots without supporting Donald Trump. You may also be a Trump supporters who feel the New England Patriots are the worst part of football. Opinions work that way. You are entitled to your own and do not need to disclose that information unless you feel the urge to do so.

You can even be a fan of football and be disinterested in politics. You are allowed to know nothing about the President of the United States but everything about the yards per carry of James White. The Patriots and Trump are two of the most polarizing topics on the national forefront today, and nothing you feel about them individually requires a parallel thought about the other.

What can’t be ignored is the fact that both Donald Trump and the New England Patriots have had their names in the same sentences dating back to the Fall of 2015, and this should matter to everyone more than it currently does.

“Tom Brady is a great friend of mine. He’s a winner and he likes winners.” – Trump, March 2016

It all ‘started’ with the image above.

In the Fall of 2015 Tom Brady spoke to the media outside his locker in Gillette Stadium with a ‘Make America Great’ hat visible in the corner. It was calculated, it was placed, and it was significant.

While many feel this hat was strategically inserted to signify a friendship that was starting to boom, it was actually closer to representing the type of brand association a recently-declared Donald Trump was using his long-time friend Tom Brady for in a crucial moment of his campaign.

Branding, or the art of creating an emotion your name or logo becomes associated with, is one of the biggest strengths our President possesses. Since he first began boasting about wealth and power in his youth, Donald was formulating what the name Trump was going to mean to those who prefer their opinions handed to them. The questions of ‘how much money’ or tangible numbers mattered not to those who had been associating Trump with wealth since the first time they heard the name. Think of Trump, and imagine the massive golden hotels, the intricate casinos, the sheer beauty of what was created in his name. Donald Trump, what a rich man.

If you remember that speech from the Fall of 2015, when Donald Trump declared his campaign as active for the Presidential Nomination, the headlines surrounding it honed in on a hard stance regarding immigration (he called Mexicans rapists) and a promise to make our nation what it used to be.

Professional athletes like Tom Brady completely understand the value of branding and creating a profitable image, so the idea that this could have been coincidence will not be respected in this piece. Brady knew exactly what he was doing at a very crucial time to the Trump campaign.

Trump needed legitimization, and what better way to portray yourself a winner than get the ringing endorsement of a man known by all as just that. Tom Brady, for the past 15 years, has become synonymous with greatness and consistent success through commitment, hard work, and persistence. Brady acknowledges the brand he has created in this Under Armour commercial from 2016, where he wears the number of his famously low NFL Draft selection and repeats the same grueling process, which we can assume leads him to the live success we see each Sunday.

If this had been the only contribution to the Trump campaign conducted by members of the New England Patriots, there would be nothing to see here. One athlete making one calculated product placement during a crucial time is enough for a headline, but not enough to propel a candidate to victory. That was not the case.

When Donald Trump made the ‘Locker Room Talk’ comment in October of last year, Tom Brady refused to denounce the words. Then, the immediate Monday afterwards, he appeared on Boston Sports Radio and spoke about how ‘Donald has been my friend for 16 years’ and again chose to place his brand in the firing line for someone he openly supported, even through the lowest moments.

For those who don’t get their news through twitter, who value football every Sunday over the evening news, and hold Tom in the highest regard, these comments from Trump were brushed aside due to the swift action of his good friend, and trustworthy, Tom Brady.

At this point, we have potentially the two biggest obstacles in the Donald Trump campaign trail belittled with the help of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

As mentioned before, the power of branding can’t be overstated. Ask your local Instagram model or aspiring youtube sensation. You must create something that resonates with an audience, allows them to trust what you provide as entertaining or worthwhile, and eventually put their money where their mouth is and support you.

That is exactly what Donald Trump has done, and continues to do, with the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots.

The above video was taken by a member of the audience during Donald Trump’s final speech before election day. That’s right, the very night before the ruler of our national would be decided, Donald Trump stood on a podium and recited words written to him by the greatest football coach in American history.

The beginning of a presidential campaign needs a propulsion in order to separate a candidate from the rest of the pack. Then, during a campaign, there will come a time where all hope seems lost and you need a strong backing from someone respected nationally. Finally, right before the curtain pulls behind a voter, you need something to tap them on the back of the brain and say “This guy could be the one, look who supports him.”

In all three of those instances, the New England Patriots were there to lend a helping hand. The ‘no distractions’ motto recited time and time again by the one coach who seems a walking embodiment of the word ‘calculated’ was disregarded for what? For the aiding in the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

As previously mentioned, the idea that the world is ending or this is somehow a condemnation of the Patriots or Donald Trump is soaked in a pot of overreaction and pessimism. This is not the worst thing to ever happen to America, nor is it the best thing. It is another President taking office in a nation seemingly small enough to exist on our phones, but too large to drive in one day. Things happen you might not always agree with, but we carry on all the same.

What this is meant to portray is the level of cross-promotion both Trump and the Patriots were comfortable performing in tandem with one another. For whatever reason, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady felt their assistance of Donald Trump was necessary and essential to whatever cause they are pursuing. If it isn’t as complicated as that, then the New England Patriots aren’t as smart as we thought they were.

It’s a seemingly huge risk to legitimize a candidate maligned by so many, when your entire profession is under constant scrutiny by often times those same members of society who despise your selection. It makes no sense unless there was a direct motive to do so. Bill Belichick is a lot of things, but reactionary or impulsive is not one of them.

When it came down to it, America voted Donald Trump as the next President of the United States with the ringing endorsement of the “most hated team in American sports” still echoing in living rooms across the country.

Ask yourself this, America.

Do you really hate the Patriots? Or do you hate that they aren’t your team. Because when election time rolled around…

The brand spoke for itself.


How is One Supposed to Feel…

How is One Supposed to Feel…

Craig Sager passed away today at the age of 65 after a long bout with cancer.

I don’t think Craig Sager needs any introduction to someone who finds themselves reading these words. He was the voice of the NBA on TNT sidelines, a beloved figure in the sports community, and someone who attacked life with positivity and love. Cancer plays no favorites, and today he sadly passed away.

It’s a weird feeling, losing someone in your life that you never met. Craig did not know me, nor did I know him personally, but the world (and our connections in it) often times stretch farther than the physical state.

I’ve been reading this a lot today. You should too. It is an old article from 2014 written by Jake when we were both students at Springfield College. I don’t know if he knows this, but after that article was posted I found myself texting him for what might have been the first time. We were not close friends, barely had spoken, and I didn’t even really like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. For some reason I felt a connection to that article, and told him about it. The inability to describe how you are supposed to feel when someone ‘in’ your life passes away that you never met is something I think my fragile and dramatic emotional state needed an explanation on. It’s confusing, but necessary.

…we never had the chance to meet these people but once they’re gone they’re no more or no less alive to us than they were while living… -Jake 2014

Reopening it today made me realize that the same thing applied to me when Craig Sager passed away and it hit my timeline on twitter. A sudden wave of grief and sadness that wasn’t really explicable to anyone in my vicinity at the time. Am I okay? Yea sure, I didn’t know him.

 It was completely bizarre to me. How was I supposed to feel about it? I had no idea and that was making me upset. – Jake 2014

Working in sports means that most of what you do gets repetitive and becomes annoying. Who wants to write 45 articles on Ryan Lochte in Brazil or speculate about Tony Romo for a month? Getting into this business was supposed to become an outlet for expression through the concept of sports, not condensing emotionless takes into one hundred words or less. It becomes mundane, saturated, and boring after a while.

Now, tell me one time you looked at Craig Sager and thought he was boring, repetitive, or annoying? The camera would pan to him, and with the biggest smile you have seen since your little brother on Christmas he was there ready to update you on the recent cramp LeBron James suffered as if he was in charge of consumer morale and not sideline updates.

By all accounts he was the same way off the court. There are stories from every member of the NBA community about a time that Sager made their day better. He famously kicked out multiple nurses from his room at the hospital for not being happy enough. He wore suits with bright colors just to get you to smile.

Positivity, which he proved is contagious as any virus, seemed to radiate off of his skin with an infectious nature that no real world issue could vaccinate.

When his time finally came, he fought some more. When the time FINALLY came, he fought more. Today, he did not lose, he simply passed into the next place to brighten up the day of those he contacted there.

So how are we supposed to feel about all of it. There really isn’t a culminating answer to that, because obviously everyone processes news a different way. When you don’t know somebody, you can not claim to be depressed or leave work early. You can’t sulk around and go get too drunk at a bar because of your loss.

But what you can do is understand that the world is seldom blessed with people who smile so genuinely. When there are problems that exist in the lives of every single breathing person, the people that change the world do all they can to seek out love. Craig Sager was able to approach each day with the goal in mind that he could leave every individual happier than they were before his interaction.

That was what made his job so special. He was in charge of collecting information from athletes to benefit the viewing audience within a span of a minute at most, from men currently in the midst of performing a highly demanding task. No easy task at all, but the minute a player or coach came into contact with Craig, that light went on, and they saw him smile as if he was about to crack up laughing as he asked the first question regardless of subject, they smiled in return.

Look at every single player or coach in the images above alongside Sager. Smiles. Happiness. The brink of laughter.

So yea, none of us knew Craig Sager like those in his immediate circle did. We don’t mourn his loss the way we would some of them surely are. But he matter to us.

He mattered to me.

In a place and time where cynicism sells, controversy sparks revenue, and people walk around with their face to the sidewalk, Sager was rich in a form of currency that isn’t accepted in most places. He will not live on with us to face whatever is next in our lives, and the nature of his work does not allow us to go back and watch him extensively perform his craft, but his message is one that will never become outdated.

I will end with this.

Jake talked a lot in the piece I linked to earlier (also here) about the idea of dying a second death. When you pass away and then your name passes away afterwards. You cease to exist past a few generations of spoken word memories, and then what? Then, well, I don’t know. That’s sort of why this site exists.

In the case of Craig Sager, I just hope he accomplished whatever it was he set out for. He won’t be dying the second death anytime soon.

Thank you, Craig. Rest in Peace.


Plane carrying Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense crashes in Colombia

Plane carrying Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense crashes in Colombia

A plane headed for Medellin, Colombia crashed last night. It was carrying players and staff of the Brazilian first division soccer club Chapecoense, as well as members of the media. There were 81 people on board, only six survived. It has been reported that three of the survivors may be players.

Chapecoense were on the way to play Colombian club Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamericana (South American Cup) final, which is essentially a South American Champions League. They were an amazing story: only reaching the Brazilian top division in 2014, Chapecoense were in the fourth division as recently as 2009.

The club was on a Cinderella run through the Copa Sudamericana. They were beloved by citizens of Santa Catarina, a small Brazilian city with a population under 200,000 in which they played. It is a truly heartbreaking tragedy, and the worldwide soccer community – and really every community – is deeply saddened and reaching out with support. Atletico Nacional is apparently petitioning to award the Copa Sudamericana championship to Chapecoense. Another petition has evidently been started to allow the club to receive free loanees and be exempt from relegation.

As you would expect, many images and videos of the team are being shared.

Here are some of the players who were not making the trip to the final, sitting in their home locker room after news of the crash:

This is a video of Chapecoense, in the same locker room, celebrating their win last week that saw them through to the final:

Here’s a video of Chapecoense players telling a teammate he is going to be a father. It’s from 20 days ago:

Finally, this is a video of Chapecoense fans who came together at their stadium:

I don’t know what else to say besides hug your peoples.

Jurgen Klinsmann finally speaks: it’s not great

Jurgen Klinsmann finally speaks: it’s not great

Let’s take a live look at Jurgen Klinsmann enjoying his Sunday evening.


I was very excited and happy when US Soccer hired Jurgen Klinsmann. Bob Bradley did a fine job, but he wasn’t going to push the USMNT through to new and higher ground. Klinsmann was definitely going to do that. Never mind that it would take years (like a decade) and a completely different institutional structure to execute his promise of more proactive, attacking, possession-oriented, “beautiful” soccer. Never mind that it turned out that it really was Jogi Low behind the success Germany had under Klinsmann (JK does deserve credit for reinvigorating their youth program).

I bought it all: hook, line, and sinker. I was a believer. I was fully on Team Klinsmann. And, without a doubt, there has been success: big wins in Europe (Italy and Germany come to mind), a decent showing at Copa America, getting out of a terrible group in 2014. But, boy, has there been some stinkers: basically everything else.

Of course, most recently it was the loss at home to Mexico and the embarrassing demolition on the road at the hands of Costa Rica that has nearly everybody calling for Klinsmann to get the boot. I haven’t really lost the anger and desire to see him fired over the last week like I thought I might. Ol’ Jurgen himself seems to be keen on keeping those coals hot for everyone.

The New York Times released a piece today that included Klinsmann’s reactions to all of it. For most of us, it’s the first time we have heard him address all the ire and rage and calls for his head.

He said some things that were fine and optimistic: “I’m not afraid…I still believe we will get the points we need to qualify, and I am even confident we could win the group.” That last bit is pie-in-the-sky horseshit, but, OK, nothing out of line really.

Klinsmann went on, though, with some stuff that was not so fine and was actually arrogant and insulting (more in-line with his true nature imo) re people wanting him to be sacked: “Soccer is emotional and a lot of people make conclusions without knowing anything about the inside of the team or the sport.”

Uh oh, stop right there, Klinsy. Before it’s too late!

“The fact is, we lost two games. There is a lot of talk from people who don’t understand soccer or the team.”

Oof. There it is. Anyone that criticizes him, even in the face of monumental incompetence, just doesn’t know soccer. All of us are stupid and ignorant for wanting him fired. Ironically, he admitted that he would probably have been fired a few different times already had he been coaching a national team on the level of a Germany or England.

Klinsmann could have tried to address some of the issues and given his long-term plan to right the ship. He could have acknowledged how horrendous these last two performances were. He could have asked the fans to stick with him, promising he would work his ass off to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Instead he went the petulant and snobbish route, insulting those who care most about his team and program.

There’s not much more that needs to be said about all of this. I’m done with Klinsmann. I think most USMNT fans are done with Klinsmann. I think most USMNT players are done with Klinsmann.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Sunil Gulati has the marbles to make the right decision. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

Mallory Pugh provides much needed USMNT hangover relief

Mallory Pugh provides much needed USMNT hangover relief

The US U-20 Women’s National Team are currently participating in the Under-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea. If you’re not following the competition: 1) quit being so sexist, and 2) you should start now (since the games are being played in the middle of the night they are difficult to watch live, but you can check the results and highlights on the internet, dummy).

After drawing in their first Group C match with France, the U-20s beat New Zealand early this morning 3-1. They currently sit atop the group with four points. A win or a draw against Ghana on Monday (1 AM ET, FS1) will see them through to the quarterfinals.

Many future USWNT stars are taking part in the tournament, as well as one player, speedy winger Mallory Pugh, who has already made an impact with the senior team. In the eighth minute of the match against New Zealand, Pugh showed why this will probably be her last “youth” competition.

GOLAZO-AZO-AZOOOOO. Pugh pick-sixes the hell out of New Zealand here. After the interception, she uses her blazing speed and good close control to blow by the defender, cutting inside and unleashing a beautiful near-post strike. The keeper has no chance.

It’s easy to see why she has already been contributing to the senior team. In 2016, Pugh has scored four goals in 12 games with the USWNT. If the U-20s go on to win the World Cup it will most likely be a result of the fine play of Mallory Pugh.

The USMNT took a giant dump on the field last night, Klinsmann’s gotta go

The USMNT took a giant dump on the field last night, Klinsmann’s gotta go

Well, that was a swift kick to the nuggets. The USMNT were taken behind the woodshed last night by Costa Rica, losing 4-0.

In World Cup qualifying, teams look to win at home and draw on the road. Last night, however, the US needed a win at Costa Rica. They were beaten at home by Mexico for the first time in 40 years on Friday. To follow that up with their worst shutout loss in WCQ since 1957 – and their first loss by four goals since 1980 – is beyond indefensible. It’s beyond all comprehension.

As I vehemently argued over at FanSided, Jurgen Klinsmann needs to be unceremoniously dumped immediately. Now is the perfect time for a change; the USMNT doesn’t play another WCQ until March 2017. The calls for Bruce Arena have already begun, even before last night, and I think he is the best bet to turn this thing around. He’s been successful in the position before – leading the USA to their best World Cup finish ever in 2002 – and, from any conceivable viewpoint, would be miles better than Klinsmann, who has lost any semblance of control or leadership over this team.

For certain, Klinsmann is not the only problem currently maligning the US; the players must share some of the blame. They simply quit on that match last night. And I never want to see Timmy Chandler or John Brooks again (OK, maybe Brooks can come back, but like in a year or so). But even much of this can be laid at the feet of Klinsy – his penchant for constantly changing formations and tactics, for playing his players out of position, and for flat out not selecting the correct personnel continue to confuse and hamstring his squad.

Sunil Gulati, president of the USSF, has stated previously that Klinsmann would finish out this World Cup cycle. After last night, however, he must reconsider this position. Every single media outlet is calling for a change. The players certainty gave the impression that they no longer want to play for him. We all deserve better. The US simply cannot fail to qualify for Russia 2018. A change of leadership must happen, and it must happen now.

Let’s take a quick jog around Twitter for some reactions to last night, because I’m a sadomasochist:

Shut up. I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Do Conference Championships Matter? The NCAA Basically Says No

Do Conference Championships Matter? The NCAA Basically Says No

The NCAA announced the 62 team field for the Division III Men’s Soccer Championship today and I want to know who the Babson College team knows on the selection committee as they received the draw of the century.

Yesterday I went to the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men’s Soccer Championship Game to support my alma mater Springfield College and two players, who are Sport Management students, that I got to know and watch develop into some great guys both in the classroom and on the field. In the Championship, Springfield played against Wheaton College who had beaten Babson the previous day in the semifinals. It was a hard fought game between both teams and ultimately Springfield came out on top which earned them an automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Fast forward to 1:00 PM today. The selection show has started and it is now time to see who Springfield will face in the first round. The host is going through all of the regions until he eventually says the Rowan will host a region and play against Lehman and the other game in the region is Springfield vs. Tufts. Tufts was the 2014 National Champion who this year was upset in their league quarterfinals. While I think this will be a great match-up between two New England teams, I think it is fair to say this is a tough draw for a Springfield team who finished the season at 18-1-1 especially when you consider what happened later in the bracket.

After a couple more teams were said, the selection show host announced the next host team would be Babson. I thought there must have been a mistake at first, there was no way that Babson who had just lost in the NEWMAC semifinals was getting to host their group as a top seed. I could understand them making the tournament with an at-large bid but not being a top seed for a group. Babson posted a record of 11-5-3 this season and in the most recent rankings were #3 in New England behind 2015 National Champion and 2016 NESCAC Champion Amherst and UMass Boston, 2016 Little East Champions with a record of 17-1-2. From these rankings, you would assume both teams higher than Babson would get to host their group as well. Well, you would be wrong to assume that. Amherst does have that opportunity as the #1 seed on their side of the bracket along with a first round bye. UMass Boston on the other hand has to make the trip to Haverford, PA for their group.

I would love to be able to sit in on the meeting with the Division III Soccer Committee and hear how they could possibly come up with a reason to explain how Babson gets to host this upcoming weekend when UMass Boston, who was ranked higher than Babson, and Springfield, who won the NEWMAC Championship which Babson is a part of, both have to travel to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, respectively. This committee could not have been impartial in this process and seems quite biased towards Babson.