Buy Dolce & Gabbana (Or Not)

In today’s society we’re seemingly entitled to our own opinion, on any given subject, as long as everyone else concurs with what is being said. Unfortunately, if someone does not agree with your position then you must brace yourself for a backlash of criticism and possibly a boycott of your product if you happen to own a business. Fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, recently raised some eyebrows with a few of their comments made during an interview with Panorama magazine. The gay duo (and ex-couple) said, “We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one.” Mr. Dolce added, “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be.” Then Dolce went on to say, “I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”

I suppose this is where I’m forced to mention Elton John since apparently he was the first one who called for a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana products. The gay musician most-likely fueled the public firestorm because he was offended by the terminology used by Mr. Dolce. The “rocket man” and his husband are fathers to a pair of “synthetic children.” The very next day, after suggesting the boycott, Elton John was seen toting around a Dolce & Gabbana bag, and now both Dolce and Gabbana have somewhat backtracked on their previously made comments. I must admit I’m disappointed in the latter because I had mentioned to my lovely wife that I thought we should buy some Dolce & Gabbana clothes in support of the fashion designers’ words of wisdom. My wife said we couldn’t afford them. I think neither of us are even aware of what their products looks like.

Boycotting, on the surface, may seem to be a fairly plausible way of making a public statement against a business’ position on a specific issue; however, the end result of a boycott usually amounts to a bunch of smoke being blown and not much else. Do you remember when Chick-fil-A was boycotted due to their publicly held stance against homosexuality? Those who agreed with Chick-fil-A’s sentiments flocked to the chain restaurant in an attempt to counteract those who were boycotting the establishment. What about the boycott of the entire state of Arizona? A nationwide call was launched urging people to refrain from visiting the Grand Canyon State because of their government’s anti-illegal immigration policies. Letters came pouring in from other states offering their support and pledging to visit Arizona in the near future. Boycotts are basically nonsense: similar to that of protesting in the streets.

We all have our own, and sometimes unique, perspective on what we think is the acceptable, justifiable, and morally correct position on any given controversial topic imaginable. There is a tendency, at least for me, to create a boundary in my mind of what is acceptable and at what point the line gets crossed and then becomes unacceptable. Some people have no tolerance for homosexuality whatsoever. Some contend they are willing to concede civil unions to homosexuals, but they cringe at the thought of allowing them to marry. The consensus appears to be, amongst those opposed to gay-marriage, that the sanctity of marriage is destroyed when same-sex couples are given the right to partake in nuptials. Then there’s me. I have found that gay-marriage has not diminished the covenant between my wife and I one iota.

I certainly am not in favor of gay-marriage, yet it’s hard for me to be appalled by two consenting homosexual adults desiring to legally commit to one another. Surprisingly, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are supportive of gay couples, but they are firmly against gay-marriage. Additionally, they do not approve of homosexuals raising children; hence, their recent controversial statements regarding the use of in vitro fertilization amongst gay couples. Likewise, that’s where I “draw the line.” I completely agree with Mr. Dolce’s assessment that being born of both a mother and a father is the natural order of how things were intended. I’m positive that’s what our Creator had in mind when He made us.

I do think the luxury fashion designer could’ve chosen his words a bit more carefully when referring to children conceived through IVF. Technically the word “synthetic” is an accurate description of the process, but it sounds a little harsh nonetheless. I also disagree that everyone born through in vitro fertilization is a “synthetic child.” To me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a married, heterosexual couple using their own egg and sperm, via the IVF method, to procreate if that’s their only viable option. I have no problem with a “rented uterus” as long as both the egg and the sperm is provided by the married couple.

It’s impossible for a homosexual to have his partners egg placed inside of him because there are no eggs. In the same manner, it’s impossible for a lesbian to have her partners sperm injected inside of her because there are no sperm. In both of the aforementioned examples an outside source would be mandatory, for enabling a pregnancy, which I think is extremely unnatural. Obviously, there’s a huge difference between homosexual couples wanting children and heterosexual couples desiring to start a family. My point is it’s natural for married, heterosexual couples to have and to raise children, but it’s unnatural for homosexual couples to do the same.

I’m not too enthused, for those of you now wondering, about single people using the IVF process to bear children as well. I simply don’t believe a single parent home is the very best option for any child. Of course, I’m aware that single-parent households do exist, resulting from either a divorce or the unfortunate death of a spouse, and I surely sympathize with those scenarios, but clearly that’s not what I’ve been talking about. The important thing to remember is to hold true to your beliefs but to also respect the fact that your fellow man may (and often does) think differently than you. So, buy Dolce & Gabbana, or don’t buy Dolce & Gabbana. I really don’t care one way or the other.

Undeniably Irish

I am undeniably Irish. With a last name like McCleary I wouldn’t be fooling anyone if I claimed otherwise. Not that I would ever want to denounce my Irish heritage, but I belong to many other nationalities as well. I know I’m also part German and part Welsh, and I’m always proud to give a shout out to my Cherokee brothers. I suppose I am what you would call a mutt if I were a dog. I definitely have some work to do if I ever want to seriously be considered as a legit Irishman. If truth be told, I didn’t even realize the significant difference between Ireland’s treasured shamrock and a four-leaf clover, until very recently, for Pete’s sake.

However, I do tend to be a smidgeon more Irish than usual every year around March 17th. Traditionally, I prepare a corned beef and cabbage meal for my family sometime during the week. The feast is not complete without my (what has become known as) “world-famous” Guinness cake. The cake is delicious, if I do say so myself, but plain Guinness beer not so much. I’ve tried to like Guinness beer (I really have) because I feel it’s my duty as an Irishman to think well of the customary drink of my ancestors…but I don’t. I’m more of an India Pale Ale guy when it comes to satisfying my taste buds.

That’s not to say I’m not fond of some other types of beers. I fancy some red ales, some brown ales, and even a few of the darker brews. However, I do think Guinness must be an acquired taste; therefore, drinking the stout only on an annual basis does not fit the bill. I have been told the pints of Guinness served in Ireland’s pubs aren’t comparable to what we have in the United States. Supposedly, it is so much better over there. That actually makes perfect sense to me. Maybe someday I can visit my homeland and find out for myself.

Sometimes I honor St. Patrick’s Day by visiting an Irish pub or at least going somewhere that’s serving green beer. Once I went to a bar around 8:00am, after getting off work, for a festive Irish breakfast (green pints included). Once. Drinking beer in the morning was a weird experience. I guess St. Patrick’s Day is as good of an excuse as any to partake of alcohol shortly after sunrise, but it is not a practice I cared to continue. I know there are those who say, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” but hopefully they’re referring to the evening hour when considering an alcoholic drink.

In recent years it’s more-likely you’d find my lovely wife and I celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at our local Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery than any other place. That’s probably because the Rock Bottom gang really knows how to take good care of us. I’m not too difficult to spot either since I’m the one wearing a “Who’s Your Paddy?” t-shirt and a green colored derby hat. I’m also one of the very few patrons holding a green beer in my hand. Unfortunately, the restaurant does not offer any artificially colored ales on St. Patrick’s Day, so I’m forced to make my own. I bring my own food coloring, and just two drops of the stuff transforms my mug of IPA into a green spectacle.

I assume the brew master is concerned that if he adds green dye to his carefully crafted concoctions then it may somehow hamper the integrity of his creations. I completely understand, but I still think an exception could be made one day out of the year. The problem with me taking matters into my own hands is that the people around us usually then start asking the servers how they can get ahold of some green beer. It gets pretty confusing when customers are told by the staff that the colorful drink in my hand is not available. I do offer up my green food coloring, to those interested, if and when I become aware of such a situation. Kudos to Rock Bottom for not kicking me out of their fine establishment.

Years ago my aunt invited her family over for a St. Patrick’s Day party, but there was a catch. She requested each of us show up to the celebration with a story or a poem about green. Just like E.F. Hutton – when my aunt talks, people listen! Besides, the assignment seemed harmless, and it surely peaked our interest, because most of us entered her house that day prepared to share our masterpieces with one another. The following is the poem I crafted for admittance into my aunt’s wonderful St. Patrick’s Day party in 1990-something. Please bear in mind this piece was written before I emerged into the Pulitzer Prize type of writer you’ve come to depend on, and I certainly have never professed to be a poet. I hope you enjoy “Green Is” nonetheless.

Green Is

Green is a color, one of many in a rainbow
Green is the grass, in which we must mow
Green is a fee, golfers hate to pay
Green is a frog, hopping around in May
Green is a turtle, Ninja, snapping, or a pet
Green is money, lost at the casino if you bet
Green is spearmint, a very tasty flavor
Green is key-lime pie, in which I like to savor
Green is my father’s birthstone, his favorite color, too
Green is part of a beach ball, along with red, yellow, and blue
Green is also a pool ball, the solid 6 to be exact
Green is the team color of the A’s, Eagles and Jets, in fact
Green is a Leprechaun, his clothes and sometimes his hair
Green is a Martian, visiting us from way out there
Green is the Grinch, who tried to steal Christmas
Green is vegetables, namely celery and lettuce (I know that one’s a stretch)
Green is a wheelbarrow, and a garden hose
Green is the substance, coming from your nose
Green is a Christmas tree, Pine and Blue Spruce
Green is a grasshopper, spitting disgusting juice
Green is a pickle, both dill and sweet
Green is a thumb, you just can’t beat
Green is jealousy and envy, we try so hard to deny
Green is the AstroTurf, found on the football field at UNI
Green(e) is Lorne, known as Mr. Cartwright on Bonanza
Green is the “Keep On Truckin'” tattoo, on the arm of Tony Danza
Green is lime Jell-O, oh my what a treat
Green is gross broccoli, your parents make you eat
Green is springtime, in the form of leaves and grass
Green is a crocodile, and an alligator’s ass
Green is the theme, of this poem that I wrote
Green poems in the future, should be banned, that’s my vote!

Needles In My Arm

I distinctly remember the first time the needle went into my arm. I am not talking about those pesky mandated vaccinations I was required to endure as a child. No, this time I was a consenting adult, and the needle was not going to be administered by any kind of doctor whatsoever. I never would’ve imagined, at least not a few years beforehand, that I would one day aspire to voluntarily have a needle inserted into my arm, but that is precisely what happened. I never thought I’d take such drastic measures either, like driving for an hour and a half, just to satisfy an urge, but I absolutely did. I was forced to make the trip to the big city because my modest hometown did not offer what I had been desiring.

I can recall a slight hesitation in my steps as I climbed up the stairs to the second floor of the rundown building. I was not reluctant because of what I was about to partake of, but I was somewhat worried about being in an undesirable part of town. I know it’s a pretty lame excuse, but I really hadn’t given the situation I was about to experience as much thought as I should have. I definitely had not taken into account any future consequence I might be confronted with, possibly for the rest of my life, after the often times scorned procedure was completed. I was solely fixated on the yearning I had acquired…and nothing else. As the needle pierced my flesh, for what turned out to be the first of many more times to come, it just felt right. Of course, I have been referring to my initial tattooing experience.

Soon after turning 18, I decided to have my firm body (obviously, things have changed since then) inked with the manliest of manly tattoos: a small rose. Paul Stanley, vocalist and guitarist of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll band, KISS, sported one on his arm, so clearly it was a cool thing for me to emulate. I suppose many people take to the needle after being inspired by another person, place, or thing. The rest probably get tattooed after encountering some life altering event they then deem necessary to pay homage to somewhere on their body. For me, a rose tattoo seemed like the best option when considering what the other most popular designs were “back in the day.” The other choices were a ship’s anchor, usually inked on the forearm (like Popeye), and the word, MOM, commonly inscribed on one’s bicep. I was neither a sailor man nor a mama’s boy, so I believe I made the only logical decision I could’ve at that time.

Receiving my first tattoo was initially a bit daunting; however, having my girlfriend (aka lovely wife) there by my side put my mind at least somewhat at ease. Although the tattoo artist’s appearance was unrefined, probably due to the fact he was blanketed in tattoos, he was very personable. Who was I to judge anyway especially since I was just about to get some artwork on my skin as well. There does seem to be a fine line though between artistic expression and the “freak zone.” The tattoo artist did an excellent job of explaining to me in detail what to expect during the tattooing process. More importantly the guy did not bat an eye when revealing to him that I wanted a rose tattoo on my bicep. Maybe my tattooist had mastered the art of “holding his tongue,” or possibly he just “bit his lip” to keep from laughing. Maybe he too was familiar with Paul Stanley’s ink and thought I would look cool, or perhaps he simply was a true professional in his chosen line of work.

I selected a specific style of rose from a couple of stencils the tattoo artist had on hand. He shaved off what little hair I had on my young bicep, applied some rubbing alcohol to the smooth surface, and then placed the chosen pattern onto my arm. Before I could say, “ouch!,” the gentle humming sound of the artist’s tattoo machine had encompassed the small but sanitary room. The tattooer’s tattoo machine used to be called a tattoo gun “back in the day.” That terminology is now frowned upon by not only those who enjoy surrendering to political correctness but by those working in the industry as well. Regardless, I intently watched as the tiny needles rapidly punctured my skin in one small area at a time. Every few seconds the tattooist would wipe away the seeping blood, pooling on my skin’s surface, so he could continue tracing the rose stencil on my bicep.

I’m quite certain the entire tattooing process lasted for only about 30 minutes. Being continuously pricked with needles, for about half that time, wasn’t nearly as painful as some would have you believe. The best way I know how to describe the feeling of being tattooed is also an explicitly gross way. I compare the sensation to someone picking your zits, one after another, for the duration of the procedure. I warned you my description wasn’t going to be pretty. At least I didn’t mention oozing pus. I left the big city completely gratified with the $35 addition to my body. My urge had been fulfilled, and I no longer desired the needle…until the next time.

My Valentine

I first laid eyes on my valentine (aka lovely wife) when she was a sophomore and I was a junior in high school. I saw her across a crowded room (actually, a gymnasium) while attending a girls’ Varsity basketball game. I just happened to notice her sitting in the upper balcony, amongst a few familiar faces also of the female persuasion, and I was instantly smitten with her. I could not take my eyes off of the “new girl,” and at that moment I became oblivious to anything that may or may not have been happening on the basketball court right in front of me. My future valentine was absolutely stunning from what I could surmise from that distance.

I could tell she possessed a nice figure, an alluring smile, and long, feathered auburn hair. When she initially stood up she appeared to be somewhat statuesque although upon further investigation I concluded her tall stature was at least partly due to the fashionable hiking boots she was wearing. She definitely seemed hip to the times: sporting a pink Izod shirt with a white sweatshirt draped over her shoulders and tied loosely around her tan neck. I wanted to meet her, but before I knew it the game was over, and the intoxicating young woman was gone. However, that did not stop me from thinking about her every now and then.

A couple of months later a good friend of mine, I had not been hanging out with for a while, invited me and a few others to play a game of basketball outdoors at the junior high school. When I arrived the “girl of my dreams” was leisurely playing a game of one on one, in a flirtatious manner, against my friend. I found out that day how she looked in a pair of shorts, and I certainly was impressed. It quickly occurred to me why I hadn’t seen my long lost friend for quite some time. I too had been guilty of dropping my buddies, like lead balloons, in pursuit of female companionship although I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth I missed that one. In any event, now being so close to this brown-eyed girl my suspicions were confirmed: She truly was ravishing. I did not see my future valentine very often, while she was dating my friend, except when occasionally bumping into her in the hallways of the high school.

I vividly remember her coming up to me at some point and running her fingers through my hair. I had just gotten a perm from my mother’s hairdresser, and I guess she wanted to acknowledge the fact that my hair was different. I was not an expert at being able to decipher a woman’s signals, at the tender age of seventeen (or any time since then for that matter), but I thought surely some physical contact from the opposite sex, regardless of how minor, was an encouraging sign. Therefore, when her boyfriend foolishly broke up with her, during the summer of 1983, I did not hesitate to move in for the kill. I did have other options, not to toot my own horn, because at least two other girls were chasing me at the time, but I was not about to let the opportunity for pursuing the “girl of my dreams” pass me by. Alright, I suppose I was tooting my own horn a bit.

In no time I was dating the brown-eyed beauty although it did not come without a few challenges. Two weeks into our relationship my valentine’s ex-boyfriend came to his senses and tried wooing her back. He sent her a fancy, heart-shaped record, of some mushy love song, which he had addressed to her from him on the record’s sleeve. My valentine must’ve already fallen hard and fast for me by that time (and why wouldn’t she have) because she voluntarily showed me the unique present she had received from her ex. She assured me she no longer had any interest in him, so I promptly returned the sweet gift, now broken into many tiny pieces, and I re-labeled the sleeve to him from me. I assume the message was received loud and clear since my valentine did not hear from him again. My girlfriend’s loyalty to me, after only a short amount of time, was extremely refreshing.

If truth be told, I probably fell much harder and faster for my valentine than she fell for me. Cupid’s aim was undeniably perfect. His arrow successfully pierced the bulls-eye on my chest, and I knew in my heart shortly after we met that there would be no turning back. I remember our first summer together when she had to go on a family vacation to Tennessee. I cannot recall if she left for a week, ten days, or two weeks, but it might as well have been a million years because it seemed like an eternity to me. In hindsight, it was either very romantic or quite sickening how miserable I was while she was away. My heart ached the entire time she was gone. I wrote my newfound love numerous letters to keep myself somewhat occupied during her absence, and I’m embarrassed to admit I got teary-eyed every time I heard a love song being played on the radio. To this day, I immediately think of my lovely wife, and the loneliness I felt being apart from her, whenever I hear the love ballads “Faithfully” by Journey and “Don’t Let It End” by Styx.

Our courtship was probably not what most people would refer to as exciting, but it did seem to fit our simple nature to a tee. When my valentine and I first began dating I was working very part time (5 hours a week) as a janitor at a small office building. Thank goodness she wasn’t the diva princess type or we would’ve been doomed from the start. My wages were just enough to cover the cost of our weekly date night out consisting of dinner at Giovanni’s Family Restaurant before catching a movie at the Capitol Theatre. Our regular waiter at Giovanni’s, J.R., knew our order by heart: a small taco pizza with a dish of sour cream, an order of french-fries with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the ketchup, and a pitcher of pop. Of course, we eventually replaced the pitcher of pop with a pitcher of Michelob Light once we both reached Iowa’s legal drinking age. It was nineteen back then.

After I hit the big-time, landing a job at McDonald’s, I was then able to treat my lady to a night on the town more often and provide her with the more finer things in life. That’s right. I could now afford concert tickets to the likes of Bon Jovi, Poison, and Motley Crue, and I could also buy my valentine better gifts throughout the year. We spent the remainder of our dating years renting VHS movies (Beta was for losers), picnicking at Mariposa Park (sunbathing included), and hanging out with the McDonald’s gang. However, most of our evenings were spent on my bed engaging in countless exhilarating games of rummy. No, rummy is not a euphemism for something else. In fact, the door to my bedroom was always to remain open, for my parents’ peace of mind, whenever my girlfriend came over.

My valentine and I were practically inseparable, spending every waking hour together, with only school and the occasional after school activities (E.g. baseball and pacesetters) keeping us apart from one another. We even worked side by side at McDonald’s for a time. Surely, we didn’t spend too much time in each others company. I would be amiss not mentioning that we did have numerous breakups along the way, but the majority of them only lasted a day or two. Ahh…young love. Jealousy, immaturity, and the lack of communication. I’m not positive where, or even how, a marriage proposal transpired, but it must have nonetheless. The peculiar thing about having the same valentine for so long is that the years and the memories tend to bleed together, and some of the details of momentous events seem to get lost along the way.

I do remember my mother suggesting I should either propose to the “girl of my dreams” or let her go so she could pursue other options. My mother thought dating someone for over three years was plenty of time to have already figured it out concerning the future. I don’t know whether I seriously pondered my mother’s words at that time or not, but we did get married the very next summer. Regardless of not knowing the specifics, leading up to our engagement, it doesn’t really matter now because as they say, “the rest is history.” Only by the grace of God, and my wife’s willingness to overlook my selfish ways during our courtship and early years of marriage, have we been able to endure for all these years. I’m simply one of those guys who was fortunate enough to “marry up.” I know I have truly been blessed beyond belief. This February 14th, will mark the 32nd consecutive time I’ve had the pleasure of having the same valentine on Valentine’s Day…if she’ll once again say yes.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

I did not watch any of this year’s Super Bore (I mean Super Bowl) as promised in my previous blog. However, I have since seen the majority of the commercials initially aired during Super Bowl 49 (I knew I would), and of course I have now seen the play (numerous times) that everyone is still talking about. The Super Bowl appears to be lingering in the minds of many as there has been much criticism over a particular play called by the Seattle Seahawks’ offense during the waning moments of the championship game. The Seahawks elected to pass the ball on 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line instead of handing the ball off to their talented running back, Marshawn Lynch. The quick pass was intercepted by the New England Patriots’ defense which ended Seattle’s final offensive possession along with their hopes of winning the game.

Those questioning the decision of passing the football instead of running it, under those circumstances, includes football analyst, Jesse Palmer. The ex-NFL backup quarterback and former contestant on the reality television show, The Bachelor, seems to think that specific play call was the worst in Super Bowl history. The still single, 36 year-old would be better off expending some more time and energy on finding a mate rather than jumping on the “haters'” bandwagon and fostering such nonsense. Once again, I feel that it’s left up to me to be the voice of reason, amongst a sea of bandwagon jumpers, and explore the other side of the controversial call. I think I am the perfect person to look at this situation objectively since I would have preferred both teams losing Super Bowl 49, if that were at all possible, but I don’t think a game of that magnitude can even end in a tie.

The truth as I know it is the play sent in to the huddle from the Seahawks’ sideline, whether approved by the offensive coordinator or the head coach himself, was not a bad call whatsoever. In fact, if that play would have resulted in a touchdown (as intended) I’m positive most of those “armchair quarterbacks” doing all of the complaining and second guessing would instead be using such adjectives as ingenious and brilliant in describing that particular play. Whether the play was successful or not really isn’t the point. The play called by Seattle on 2nd and goal was a good one. It just wasn’t executed properly, and that’s very unfortunate for the Seattle Seahawks and their fans. The sport of football can literally be a game of inches as was quite evident in this year’s Super Bowl.

In many instances a football game will generate an array of shoulda, coulda, woulda comments by the time the last whistle blows. Maybe Seahawks’ quarterback, Russell Wilson, woulda been better off not trying to force the ball into the hands of the receiver. Perhaps he coulda spyed a more open player on the field if he woulda just held on to the ball a little longer or if he had looked a little harder. Maybe the quarterback shoulda taken advantage of his God-given athleticism and tried to scramble into the end zone himself, or perhaps he simply shoulda thrown the football out of bounds to allow for his team to regroup and set up for another play. The consensus seems to be, amongst the naysayers, that Seattle running back, Marshawn Lynch, shoulda been called upon when the team was so close to the goal line.

I can’t entirely disagree with that assessment because Marshawn Lynch is a beast! That, by the way, is a good thing in football. He undoubtedly runs with authority and surely coulda scored the winning touchdown, in the League’s most coveted game, if only given the opportunity. Maybe. Maybe not. Common sense tells me if the majority of sports analysts, football fans, “Monday morning quarterbacks,” and everybody else and their mothers, thought Marshawn Lynch shoulda been the player getting the football in that situation then most-assuredly the Patriots were also aware of that probability, and in all likelihood their defense would’ve been prepared for precisely that. I would think when a defense is solely focused on stopping a certain player, and indeed that player gets the ball, then the chances of him either fumbling or being tackled for a loss significantly increases.

I have seen many, many, many NFL games in my lifetime and a number of them materialize into pretty much the same scenario as what transpired at the end of this year’s Super Bowl. Numerous times I’ve witnessed an offense, near the goal line, hand the ball off to their running back, sometimes four times in a row, and many times they find their efforts resulting in only a field goal attempt or losing possession on loss of downs. Marshawn Lynch may or may not have scored the winning touchdown, if given the last opportunity, in Super Bowl 49. We will never know. I just hope if New England’s Head Coach, Bill Belichick, or any of the Patriots’ players are found guilty of deflating footballs this past season, after the NFL’s so-called “Deflategate” investigation, that their Super Bowl win will be deemed null and void. If not, I will be disappointed and feel somewhat misled if the adage, “cheaters never win and winners never cheat,” does not ring true.

The Super Bore

I won’t be watching the Super Bore (I mean the Super Bowl) this Sunday. I need to like at least one of the two teams playing in the championship game, or at the bare minimum be able to whole-heartedly root for one of them, to be enticed into viewing the 4-hour plus spectacle. That criteria definitely was not met this past football season. I’m about as thrilled to watch Super Bowl 49, as I am at the prospect of sending either Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton to the Oval Office during the next presidential election. I can’t bear the thought of another Bush or Clinton running this country, but on the bright side at least they’re not Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, and I don’t particularly care for “repeating” in any sport unless of course it’s my team. Whether when speaking of politics or professional football I say, “give somebody else a chance.” However, if the New England Patriots win we’ll never know for certain how legitimate their season truly was leading up to the big game. More on that later. I’m sure my lovely wife will be watching this year’s Super Bowl since nowadays she seems to be a bigger fan of the National Football League than I am.

I used to crave NFL game days, but I think watching overpaid athletes constantly showboating and heaping praise upon themselves ultimately grew too tiresome for me. I’m sure you know the type of person I’m speaking of because they are a dime a dozen in the NFL. A player makes a touchdown, an interception, a fumble recovery, a sack, or even a nice tackle, and his teammates are wanting to congratulate him, but more often than not the individual pushes them aside (literally and figuratively) to find an open space on the football field to celebrate alone. I assume the player does this so there’s no mistaking, to anyone who may have blinked, who he thinks deserves to be applauded for the previous play. Hellooo…it’s your job!

Someone did ask, after hearing my intentions for not watching the Super Bowl, “but what about the commercials?” I momentarily considered taping the ballgame, so I could fast forward through the boring matchup and enjoy the annually heralded commercials at a later date. I then quickly realized how asinine even the thought of that resonated in my head. Was I actually going to purposefully expend some of my time and energy on watching an array of mostly overrated advertisements, that are force-fed apparently to an eagerly willing audience, aired during the National Football League’s biggest game of the year? No!

Besides, the viewing of Super Bowl commercials aren’t a once in a lifetime event. I’m sure eventually I’ll see all of them a time or two whether I want to or not in the coming weeks. Admittedly, I absolutely am an admirer of the majority of Hallmark commercials. The sappy ones they show during Hallmark movies, a combination of new commercials as well as the classics, are well worth turning on the television set to watch. I’ve been known to shed a few tears (okay, streams of tears) more so during those darn commercials than during the Hallmark presentation itself.

Now for the elephant in the room. I recently have heard the New England Patriots’ Head Coach, Bill Belichick, referred to by some as Bill Belicheat although I’m not entirely sure he’s the only one in the organization deserving of such a demeaning nickname. However, Coach Belichick and the entire Patriots’ Organization does seem to be adding to their reputations as cheaters (ala “Spygate”) in the NFL. “Spygate,” in case you haven’t heard by now, was when the Patriots were caught illegally videotaping their opponents’ defensive coaches’ signals during a 2007 game against the New York Jets.

In addition, during the “Spygate” investigation, it was discovered that New England had been conducting similar videotaping of their opponents since Mr. Belichick took over as head coach in 2000. This quite possibly means the Patriots had an unfair advantage against their opponents in Super Bowls 36, 38, and 39, too. Coach Belichick was fined $500,000, the Patriots were fined $250,000, and the team was stripped of their first round draft pick the following season for their indiscretion. The fine incurred by Mr. Belichick remains the harshest penalty ever handed down to an NFL coach. The Patriots advanced to the championship game during the “Spygate” season, but they did lose to the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42. I can’t complain.

The latest allegation against New England, cleverly deemed “Deflategate,” has encompassed the team, tarnishing their reputation even further, as they are trying to prepare for the upcoming Super Bowl. Supposedly, 11 of the 12 footballs provided by the Patriots’ offensive unit were found to be under-inflated after their latest playoff victory against the Indianapolis Colts. Something happened to the pigskins between the time the referees checked them, approximately two hours prior to game time, and the kickoff. I don’t exactly know where the buck should stop when attempting to lay blame: the Patriots’ Owner, the General Manager, Coach Belichick, or the players themselves. Maybe some astute ball boy summoned his courage and ingenuity, however ill-advised, in hopes of trying to do what he could to help the home team.

The fact is that rules were allegedly broken by the New England Patriots’ Organization…again. A reader of mine (yes, I have a few) replied to a prior blog claiming, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” in disagreeing with my particular stance on an issue. I will use that same adage in this circumstance although he surely won’t appreciate it because, if I remember correctly, he is a Patriots’ fan. If you are an Indianapolis Colts’ fan please cover your ears at this time. The Patriots undeniably obliterated the Colts on the football field, and it would not have mattered whether the footballs were slightly under-inflated, over-inflated, or as flat as a pancake. New England obviously would’ve kicked some major butt that day regardless which then makes trying to gain the slightest edge by illegally deflating balls seem all the more ridiculous.

That being said, I do not know how in good conscience the NFL can allow cheaters to participate in this year’s championship game if they desire to maintain a shred of integrity. The League is more than willing to suspend players, based on allegations alone, yet it’s painfully evident they’re enacting some sort of “the game must go on” mentality when it comes to holding an entire NFL organization accountable. The right thing to do would be to banish the Patriots from Super Bowl 49. Unfortunately, I’m certain that wasn’t even considered because trying to find another team on such short notice, and deciphering which team is most deserving to fill the vacancy, would be nearly impossible. The Colts? I don’t think so.

A case definitely could be made for the Baltimore Ravens to fill the vacant slot. They lost to New England, the previous week of the playoffs, but only by a measly 4 points. That game was also played on the Patriots’ home field, so there’s a strong possibility New England’s offense was using deflated footballs then as well. This discussion, as riveting as it may be, is pointless since surely the locker-rooms of the remaining 30 teams have already been cleared out, and many players are probably vacationing, fishing, or camping out somewhere in the wilderness by now. Some players possibly may be out of shape by this time while others may have already begun a necessary recovery process due to a very punishing, long season.

Regardless, the biggest game of the year will go on as scheduled, pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, amidst a cloud of speculation and deceit. For me, deciding which team to root for in Super Bowl 49, is reminiscent of the selection process I’ve encountered when choosing which candidates to support in many of the most recent elections. I’m usually forced to ask myself, “Who is the lesser of two evils?” I cast my vote for the Seattle Seahawks although I still won’t be watching the Super Bore (I mean the Super Bowl) this Sunday.


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