Lebron EVISCERATES Charles Barkley

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ESPN– After years of being fodder for Charles Barkley to comment on in his role as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” LeBron James has heard enough.

“He’s a hater,” James told ESPN of Barkley following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

James had been stewing the past couple of days after Barkley took James to task for the four-time MVP calling out the Cavs for needing to fortify the roster with another playmaker to have a realistic shot at a repeat title.

“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” Barkley said of James last week. “The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted [Iman] Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete? He is an amazing player. They’re the defending champs.”

“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.

“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”

“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said. “Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”

He had more words for Barkley too.

“I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t,” James said. “He’s stuck up on that stage every week.”

James then issued a challenge, of sorts.

“And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there,” James said. “He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”

“I collect one paycheck from this,” James said of his role with the Cavs. “There’s the owner, Griff’s [David Griffin] the GM, I’m the player. Screw Charles Barkley.”

James put on his baseball cap and offered a parting thought as he prepared to leave the visitors locker room at the American Airlines Center to head to the airport for a flight back to Cleveland.

“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” James said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Oh, snap! LeBron just went in on Chuck! So much so that I had to pull out a John Oliver/John Stewart/Tomi Lahren style headline to really drive the point home. I’m not sure if Barkley is even still alive after that vicious attack! Someone check his pulse!

I have two different feelings about all this. One part of me loves this. Not LeBron calling out Chuck specifically, but someone finally calling out my least favorite crowd in the world, the “today’s sports are soft’ crowd. They make me see red. They make my blood boil. They make me want to commit violent crimes. “Today’s NBA is so watered down,” even though there’s more superstars than ever, and more teams have stars than ever before. And the players are better now than they used to be. Sorry, but Russell Westbrook would average about 50 points 25 rebounds and 15 assists if Oscar Robertson was guarding him. “All they do is shoot threes.” My advanced training in mathematics tells me that 3 is, in fact, more than 2. Which would mean that getting 3 points if better than getting 2 points. Let’s say a team takes 50 3 pointers and 50 2 pointers. If the team shoots just 35% from 3, which is about league average, the 3 point shots would yield more points than the 2 point shots if the team shot 50% from 2. So I don’t get what the problem is. “The players are too buddy-buddy nowadays.” Sure, the Banana Boat Boyz are the most influential #clique in NBA history, but this isn’t a new thing. Your boy Barkley used to sidle up to MJ non-stop. Magic and the original Isiah Thomas would make out before games! It would have been X rated if the MPAA got their hands on the footage. And Charles Oakley, everyone’s favorite bastion of toughness and thuggishness, was Jordan’s lackey no matter what team he was on. “No one plays defense or plays physical.” People don’t realize how impossible playing defense in today’s NBA is. Like 80% of the league is dangerous from 3. Every guard is a freak athlete that can’t possibly be contained one on one, so when you send help someone is open for 3. And the big men are all absurd hybrids of traditional physically dominant bruisers and skilled guards. The fact that teams still find a way to get any stops at all is cause for celebration. And no, it’s not as physical as it was in the 90s. The games are also watchable. So I applaud LeBron for taking down the leader of the curmudgeon army.

But on the other hand, this is whole saga is vintage LeBron. The whining, the verbal and virtual subtweeting, the constant over-dramatics. I mean, everything Chuck said is true. LeBron is a huge baby that cries and stomps his feet when he doesn’t get his way. I mean, I don’t get what his problem is. They won the title last season with virtually the same roster! They’re still going to win the East fairly easily. He already has no real challenge until the Finals, and now he wants to eliminate that challenge, too? I guess I can’t blame him. I hate challenges. But I’m not trying to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time. I also don’t publicly masturbate to my performance in last year’s finals where he beat the greatest regular season team ever, which he cheapens by trying to make this year’s go around easier. Not to mention we’re getting pretty close to when he takes his annual mid-season vacation. But, hey, he’s a father which means you can’t criticize him. I’m so sick of this story, I’m so sick of Barkley’s mindset, and I’m so sick of LeBron. I can’t wait until he finally retires 10 years from now.

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You know I was First in line for the new Yu-Gi-Oh! movie

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Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the most anticipated movie of the year, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, was finally released yesterday. (A bit of bad timing in terms of getting Oscar nominations, but next year they’ll clean up.) Ever since I got a random promotional lanyard at last year’s Comic Con saying the movie was coming in 2017, I’ve been hyped up.

I was so ready for this movie. I’m like the Lance Stephenson of Yu-Gi-Oh, Born Ready. As an avid fan of all things Yu-Gi-Oh, and likely the most talented duelist of all time, I knew I had to be at the first showing possible. So, I grabbed my Kaiba Corp. shirt and camping supplies and slept under the stars outside the theater waiting for my life to be changed forever.

Even before the movie, there was a buzz in the theater. Electricity was in the air. We were all there to see a heavy weight fight between two titans of Duel Monsters. I lost track of how many trench coats and guys with pony tails I saw. I wasn’t even in the top ten of most overweight people there. It was an eclectic group, but we were all in the same community, the same brotherhood. All part of that most exclusive of societies: those passionate about Yu-Gi-Oh. And I am proud to be their leader. During the movie, the crowd was jumping. There were big laughs, big cheers, and, when a certain someone appears at the end of the movie, a girl sitting in front of me could no longer contain her emotions and broke down in tears. We’re talking uncontrollably sobbing. It was beautiful, in a way. It was one of the strangest, most memorable, and most enjoyable times I’ve ever had in a movie theater. I don’t know if it can ever be replicated.

The movie itself was awesome. It was perfect Yu-Gi-Oh!. A mix of light comedy and melodrama, nonsense and fake science, and a complete disregard for the actual rules of the game. Luckily for me, the movie was centered around my favorite character, the legend himself Seto Kaiba. It was probably the most character development he’s ever gotten. Sure, he still had his usual extreme arrogance and narcissism, but the movie actually explored his relationship with Yugi and the Pharaoh. With a very Batman-Joker vibe, Seto realizes he needs the Pharaoh to validate his own sense of self-worth. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to summon the Pharaoh and fight him, defeat him, and exorcise the demons that haunt his memory. Or does he actually deeply care about the Pharaoh and want to see him one last time as a friend? That’s for you to decide. There’s another plot about someone trying to take over the world and sending everyone to the Shadow Realm a different dimension, but the only one I really cared about was Kaiba. Maybe I’m biased. Either way, this movie was awesome.

Rating: 11/10

Now that Yu-Gi-Oh is fresh in my mind, I’ve got to do a bit of a Yu-Gi-Oh brain dump. I concede that this may get a little deeper into Yu-Gi-Oh than most people may care to tread, so I will only slightly begrudge you for bailing now. For the diehards, let’s get into it.

Burning Question: Why didn’t the villains just do whatever they wanted regardless of the outcome of duels?

I realize this kind of flies right in the face of the entire concept of the show, but why did anyone let a card game stop them from doing whatever they wanted to do? Take Marik, for instance. He wanted the Egyptian God Cards and all the Millennium Items. Why did he risk all of that on some games of Duel Monsters, especially when he knew he was going against the best in the world? He had the Millennium Rod, which has a knife inside it. Why didn’t he just kill Yugi and Kaiba and take what he wanted? Or use the Millennium Rod’s power of mind control. Instead of control, say, Kaiba and taking Obelisk without any real hassle, he controlled Joey so he could duel against Yugi, hoping that Yugi would lose against someone he literally taught the game of Duel Monsters to and that Yugi would drop the Millennium Puzzle before he was dragged underwater. Huh? He also showed the ability to send people to the Shadow Realm at will, based on what he did to all his henchmen who lost to Yugi. If the banishment wasn’t predicated on the result of the previous duels, why would Marik ever risk going into a shadow game in the first place? Why risk losing? Just send them to the Shadow Realm without dueling them. Or just kill them. And Pegasus had an entire island’s worth of dark corners and hiding places at his disposal, as well as an army of evil cronies who already dabbled in assault and kidnapping. Just have them kill Yugi and take his puzzle. You don’t even need to kill him, just steal it. The only people who were really thinking the right way were Lumis and Umbra, but they were too stupid and reckless to succeed. What Yu-Gi-Oh villains lack in practicality they more than make up for in overly complicated plans and a penchant for tight clothing (wait, that’s everyone in the show).

Top Five Characters

1. Seto Kaiba- I ldgljadhinted at this in the actual review, but Seto is easily my favorite character, and is definitely in my top five favorite TV characters ever. Think about everything he’s done for the game. He created the hologram system and every iteration of the duel disk. He set up every major tournament after season one. He’s the most important character in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. He’s also the most talented duelist and was robbed at every turn. Yugi cheats. How can he always get the exact card he needs at the exact time he needs? When half the cards he uses are never seen again? And some of the cards are only useful in very specific scenarios that would be impossible to prepare for and are useless in 99% of duels. All because he believes in the Heart of the Cards? Joey believed and he never got that kind of luck. Yugi cheats constantly, and his cowardly decision to face little Yugi instead of his true rival Seto in his final duel puts a serious damper on his “King of Games” title. Meanwhile Seto uses pure skill, power, and a dragon fetish to overwhelm his opposition. In a just world, he would have beaten Yugi ten times over.

business-playtime-and-inspiration-maximillion-pegasus-yu-gi-oh-35864904-497-3812. Maximillion Pegasus- The wonderfully camp creator of Duel Monsters deserved more than being the end boss of Duelist Kingdom, an admittedly entertaining tournament where there were literally no rules and every duel ended on some stupid technicality or weird field effect. Pegasus was a genius. A true artist with playing cards, he has not one, but two iconic strategies (Toon World and Relinquished). He befuddled both Yugi and Kaiba, and would have beaten Yugi (by cheating) if it weren’t for a well timed friendship speech. No one played better mind games or was quite as well dressed. Pegasus is the G.O.A.T. villain.

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3. Mako Tsunami- I think this will probably be the most controversial entry, but Mako is the most underrated character in Yu-Gi-Oh!. He has all the makings of a perfect bit character: hilariously over-the-top, just good enough to make duels interesting, and, most importantly, a defined schtick. And unlike recurring guests Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor, Mako actually has a backstory, contrived as it may have been. And yet he only had two appearances. What makes Rex better than him? A dinosaur deck is just as one-note as an aquatic deck. More so, probably. And Mako was clearly the superior duelist. He should have been a comic-relief staple. He should have annoyed Yugi and the gang every season, not just the first two. Perhaps he was too good. His passion and perfectly defined character quirks were just too pure for this world. Maybe we’re the ones that failed him by not appreciating him more while he was here. I’m sorry, Mako. May you find peace at sea.

ce14. Joey Wheeler- Joey really was better than he had any business being. His random Brooklyn accent, idiocy, and luck-based dueling strategy should have flamed out early, but it all wound up being quite charming. There’s no doubt the show would have been much worse without his presence, as often times he and Tristan were the only ones combatting the deathly serious tone with their physical brand of comic relief. On top of that, he was a fine duelist. Besides his duels against Kaiba, his duels against every other main character go extremely well, and he only loses because of things like “friendship” or plain misfortune. He would have beaten Marik cleanly if he was able to call an attack! Funny that for someone who relies so heavily on luck, he never gets lucky when it counts, as opposed to Yugi, who is supposedly all about skill, but gets every “lucky” break ever. It’s a shame. Now, if only they had never given him a sister.

post-23942-0-06419500-14062489525. Bakura- The only bad guy who was really playing for keeps. No one was darker, more depraved, or more willing to get his hands dirty. Pretty sure he actually killed like five people in a show where death was outlawed, and would have murdered Yugi’s grandpa if left unattended. His duels were always must-watch, if only because of the threat of violence and dismemberment. He should have had his moment in the spotlight long before the penultimate story arc, and probably should have killed Marik instead of entering into an alliance with him. He was clearly the most powerful evil spirit on the block.

Honorable Mention: Tristan (if you don’t like Tristan you have a huge dump in your pants), Weevil Underwood, Marik (evil version)

Best Yu-Gi-Oh Video Games

  1. Duelists of the Roses- I may be prone to exaggeration but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’ve played this game more than any other video game I’ve ever had. It’s the reason I still have my PS2 and the reason I’ll never get rid of it. It’s a spectacularly goofy game, treating history like season one treats the rules of Duel Monsters. But I love it so much. The checkers-style dueling combined with the awesome field and monster animations combine to make the most unique take on Yu-Gi-Oh ever.
  2. The Sacred Cards- An RPG take on the Battle City arc. Luckily for me, that’s my favorite part of the show.
  3. Stairway to the Destined Duel- It’s pretty much just the real-life card game on Game Boy. With the actual rules. That’s all you need to make a great game.
  4. Receive of Destruction- This game was so rigged and so frustrating that it took me about a year to finally beat it. It was impossible. But nothing beat the high of finally beating the part I was stuck on. Only to immediately get stuck again.
  5. Duel Links- Might be some recency bias, but I can’t believe they didn’t have a game like this before. Now that I have a way to impose my will against people all around the world, nothing will stop my rise to the top. Unless I get sent to the Shadow Realm.

Best Cards in my deck- A few years ago, I had to go through one of the greatest hardships of my entire life: I lost my deck. Every time I go home, I spend hours searching for it, but to no avail. The greatest collection of 3.5″x2.5″ pieces of paper ever assembled lost for all eternity. Truly one of the biggest tragedies of the last century. Now, only memories remain. Fortunately, I can still recall the heavy hitters of that legendary deck.
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5. Kaiser Sea Horse- A fine card on it’s own, it’s strength really came early in duels. In a perfect draw, you could summon a super powerful monster like Blue Eyes White Dragon in your second turn. Putting pressure on the opponent early was a staple in my glory days.

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4. Harpy’s Feather Duster- Getting rid of your opponent’s Spell and Trap cards is a huge mental blow. It ruins strategies. If they have some kind of spell-counter trap, they almost have to use it on this, freeing me up to play something more powerful. It’s a perfect spell.

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3. Valkyrion the Magna Warrior- My enforcer. When he came out, you knew the duel was almost over. Even if you destroy him, he can just break down into his three component parts.

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2. Judgment of Anubis- Such an overpowered trap card. My deck was heavy with spells and traps almost entirely to set up this card. Once I got one, I bought two more just to add to the frustration I could dish out. This card came closer to ending friendships than any other card I owned.

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1. Jowls of Dark Demise- It’s this simple: if you saw this card you lost. You’re all excited that you were finally able to summon your best monster. Victory is within your grasp. Well, now what’s yours is mine. And I win.

I think I’ll salvage whatever street cred I have left and finish here. But make no mistake, I can go on about Yu-Gi-Oh until my dying breath. And maybe someday I will.

And for anyone wondering, I’m taking AFC +4 in tonight’s Pro Bowl. Sorry I couldn’t give a full breakdown of this seminal game.

Scientists have finally been able to combine species DNA

source– Scientists have published the first peer-reviewed account of creating pig–human hybrid fetuses, a step toward growing animals with organs that are suitable for transplantation into humans.

The team that made these chimaeras also reports the creation of mouse–rat and human–cow hybrids on 26 January in Cell1. Such modified animals could provide researchers with new models for testing drugs and understanding early human development.

To create chimaeras, scientists generally inject pluripotent stem cells — which can become any type of organ — from one species into the early embryo of a second species. In theory, the foreign cells should differentiate and spread throughout the body, but in practice, producing viable hybrid embryos has proven difficult.

To get around this, a team led by developmental biologist Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, used CRISPR gene-editing technology to create mouse embryos without the genes that cause organs to form. The scientists then injected rat stem cells into the mouse embryos and implanted the embryos into a mouse’s uterus.

Because the rat cells still contained genes for organ formation, the resulting chimaeras had organs that were composed largely of rat cells. The animals lived for up to two years, the normal lifespan of a mouse.

Yes. I’ve been waiting for this day for years. Finally, we can combine two animals together. Once this is perfected, the possibilities are endless. With the upcoming war with the aliens, having an army of hybrids could turn the tide. I mean, it worked for the Warriors with the Splash Brothers. In fact, if we can start effectively combine big cats and elephants and rhinos or something, I might officially swing back to #teamEarth.

But I have a feeling it won’t be this smooth. I can already see the backlash the second one of these experiments goes wrong. Some half mole-half hummingbird abomination will come out of the test tube crying out for it’s own death and we’ll start wondering about the ethics of these experiments and how much the hybrids hate their most likely shortened lives. Well, in that case give them all to me. Think of the power you could acquire with an army of perfect predators. I could become the new Alexander the Great. I think it would only take me about a year before I was weeping about the lack of remaining worlds to conquer. And it’d be easy to keep the power, too. Think about it, if I had a bunch of German Shepard/tiger hybrids or something as bodyguards who would mess with me? Sure, they won’t live all that long but that’s why I have hockey shifts for my guards. Fiercely defend me for a year then swap out to live out their last days in peace. My reputation as champion of the hybrid animals would get the regular animals on my side, too. Soon I’d have every non-human in the world at my disposal. I’d be invincible!

My only question is what is the limit of the combinations? If you take sea creature DNA, will they need to be in water? Obviously I’m looking to cherry-pick every animal’s strengths, but do I get their weaknesses, too? Because if I can take an octopus’ smarts, camouflage ability, and eight arms but it can breathe air, then I’m combining it with some panther DNA to create an elite team of ninja-assassins. Can I combine a shark’s smell and motion sensing ability with a condor’s wingspan and range, then add some human speech to create the ultimate recon weapon? Or just go crazy and add some coral DNA with some grizzly bear, Komodo dragon, and armadillo DNA and make the ultimate defensive force to guard my room while I sleep. Because then we’d be cooking with gas. If all those things still have to live in water, then everything got a lot less fun.

I was nearly perfect in my NBA All Star predictions

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So the NBA announced the All Star reserves tonight after naming the starters last week. And before we get into the injustice that is the Danilo Gallinari snub, let’s take a moment to recognize how accurate my roster predictions were. In my mind, I only missed one per conference. If healthy, Chris Paul would have made it and I can’t be held accountable for the unpredictability of injury replacements. I’m counting Klay Thompson as CP3’s replacement, and he probably took Lillard’s spot. So, in my mind, the only ones I missed were Paul Millsap over Jabari Parker and DeAndre Jordan over Karl-Anthony Towns.

Jordan over Towns is a little easier to swallow. Towns has the splashy point totals, but Jordan leads the league in rebounds and field goal percentage and plays much better defense than Towns. DeAndre is even up over 50% from the foul line! It’s maybe the most shocking development of the season. To quote Rocky Balboa, anyone can change! And, without Paul, the Clippers wouldn’t have had any representation, which seems wrong for the 4 seed in the West. So I have no real problem with this. KAT will make plenty of All Star teams in the future. And to anyone saying I’m using alternative facts by saying I only got one wrong, in my original piece I said that I didn’t want to take four Warriors and that I agonized over which one to take, proving that I knew full well there was a good chance Klay would make it. So, really, I did call it. Anyone saying otherwise is just part of the liberal agenda trying to take me down! Very unfair!

Paul Millsap making it is a little more head scratching. Now, don’t get me wrong. Paul Millsap is a very good player. He’s versatile, unselfish, smart, and fundamentally sound. I’d love to have him on my team, and I think he can help anyone win. But this year he shouldn’t be on the All Star team. I hope people write this down, because this is rare. I actually admit I was wrong in my original prediction. I don’t know if I just overlooked him or what, but Joel Embiid needs to be an All Star. His numbers as-is are great considering he hasn’t played in two years and is asked to do everything for the Sixers. When you look at his eye-popping per-36 minute numbers and consider his defensive impact, he should be a lock. I mean, read this. He’s a beast. He’s the best center in the East already, and he’s getting better and healthier better every week. And, he’s the most entertaining player in the league. He’s a Twitter and Instagram legend, for crying out loud. At least let him do the 3-point shootout. Let him be a sideline reporter during the game. He’s got to be involved somehow. Ideally he’d be on the roster.

Brent Musburger announces retirement

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ESPN– Brent Musburger, one of the most recognizable and accomplished voices in the history of television, has decided to end his legendary play-by-play career at month’s end. Musburger, who has worked in the industry for nearly 50 years as host and play-by-play commentator – including the last 27 with ABC/ESPN – will call two more men’s college basketball games, punctuated by his final telecast, Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (Georgia at Kentucky from Rupp Arena).

“But the next rodeo for me is in Las Vegas. Stop by and we’ll share a cold one and some good stories. I may even buy!” (Gee, ya think?)

You are looking live at some of the worst news to ever hit us here in the Brian’s Den. We’ve lost another legend. First Verne Lundquist retires, now Brent. The end of an era. Nothing could beat Brent’s dulcet tones calling the biggest college football and basketball games. He was my fall Saturdays and winter weeknights growing up. A true icon. A pillar of the announcing community. A gold standard by which all play-by-play/thinly veiled gambling allusions should be judged. But now that he’s old and recently had his millionth controversy in his thoughts on Joe Mixon, ESPN nudged this titan of the industry to retire. Sad!

Power Ranking: Top Five Current Play-by-play men

  1. Joe Buck- Come at me, haters!
  2. Al Michaels- The last legend we have left. We need to make sure Al stays around forever
  3. Don Orsillo- I will never forgive the Red Sox for what they did to him
  4. Sean McDonough- Another former Red Sox guy. Wish we still had him around
  5. Mike Tirico- Still can’t believe he says he’s not black

So tonight, pour one out for Brent. Remember the good times. Celebrate his career. Do not weep, for he would not want tears to be shed for him. Unless he bet on it. Good night, sweet prince.

Why does Harry Connick Jr. have a talk show?

As I spent yesterday trying to come up with some ideas for posts (maybe a new Burning Questions), I found myself flipping channels. Lost in the miasma of daytime TV, prospects were looking bleak. I thought I might have to settle for an uninspiring news story or movie trailer analysis. But then I saw something that shook me to my core. Something so shocking, so unexpected, I had to stop and take note. Harry Connick, Jr. has his own talk show. No, really, he does. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I decided I had to watch this spectacle. Results were absolutely wild.

I couldn’t believe what I was watching. How in the world did Harry Connick, Jr. get his own mid-day talk show? How many stars had to align for this to happen? Is he the least likely talk show host in history? I mean they tried to give Magic Johnson his own talk show, but at least he’s infinitely more famous than Harry Connick, Jr. He’s the definition of a D-list celebrity. This is like if someone gave the lead singer of Deep Blue Something his own show. I really wish I was in the room for this meeting. “Alright, so we all know Harry Connick, Jr. for that good Christmas album from the 90s and his memorable roles in Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. Well, what if he had a midday talk show?” What skills does he have that translate to talk show success? A slight New Orleans accent? Thinking about it, the person that greenlit this show maybe the most reckless and courageous man in the history of the entertainment industry. I mean, this show was a crazy combination of the most boring television I’ve ever watched and the most enthralling entertainment ever produced. I might have to become a regular watcher. I think my new life’s goal is to somehow be a guest on this show. Or better yet, his sidekick. He obviously had a jazz band with him but I didn’t notice a witty sidekick to help add mother-approved comedy for the 3 o’clock crowd. Hey, Harry, sign me up. I’d add some much needed spice to the bland gumbo that is Harry. (a little New Orleans humor to get on Harry’s good side. I can tell we already have great chemistry.) I can help take your show to unprecedentedly middling heights. I need my life’s work to be lost in the ether of daytime TV. Have your people call my people, Harry.

For All the H8ers

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The New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Again. They’re going to face the Atlanta Falcons, and they are going to win. I’m sorry, America, but they just aren’t going away. So, before the next fake scandal comes just in time to distract them from the Falcons, and before you hear all the experts tell you that the Falcons admittedly all-time great offense will dominate the overrated Patriots defense (which just completely stifled the supposed most talented offense in the league), let me tell you, yes, you, who dedicates your entire life to hating the Patriots and anything involved with them, why you’re wrong. Because I’m a spoiled brat when it comes to the NFL. Because I feel like gloating. Because I want everyone who wants so desperately for this team to be out of the picture to feel like the idiots they are. But mostly, because I can.

It’s easy to forget after Brady’s career game against the Steelers super fast and resurgent defense that will definitely stop him, but there was a big-time Internet debate this week: Who has the worst offense left in the playoffs? Mysteriously, the Patriots, who lead the AFC in scoring and finished second to the Falcons in every other category among the four teams in question, were the most popular answer. After all, the Packers had Aaron Rodgers, the greatest quarterback of all time. The Steelers had LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger, who have never lost big games. Who do the Pats have? Tom Brady? Is he even good anymore? Everyone was so eager to get rid of the Pats that they abandoned all reason. They would have picked the Rutland Raiders, my high school team, over the Pats. Every excuse under the sun came out: They play in the worst division, (true, the AFC East is inhabited by teams the Patriots absolutely dominate, but the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets combined to go 7-5 against the NFC this year. To use Earl Thomas’ example, the NFC West went a combined to go 6-10 against the AFC. Weird.) they play in a conference full of pushovers, (sure, the bottom of the AFC is weak. The bottom of the NFC isn’t? And aren’t the Broncos (last year’s winner), Ravens (won in 2012 and constantly push the Patriots to the brink), and Steelers (won in 2006 and 2011 and had the greatest, most dangerous offense in the history of Western Civilization before this weekend) in the AFC? In fact, since the Patriots first Super Bowl win, the rest of the AFC has won five Super Bowls to the NFC’s six. That’s not exactly a domination.) and, of course, they cheat.

Listen, at this point if you think they’re cheaters I’m probably not gonna do much to change your mind. I’ll just remind you of some facts: The rule violation that triggered Spygate was not the filming of opponents’ signals. It was the location they filmed it. Filming other teams was not, and is not, illegal. In fact, everyone else does it. The Pats just got busted for doing it in the wrong spot. That’s it. Was it stupid to do it after being told by the league not to? Yes, yes it was. But the huge fines handed down were the result of a new commissioner looking to flex his muscles, and the same commissioner facing pressure from the other jealous owners who were sick of the Patriots’ continued success in an era where it was nearly impossible, not the severity of the crime. It really wasn’t that bad, and, had it been, say, the Giants who had been caught doing it, nothing would have happened. There was no Super Bowl walkthrough video taping. There was no sinister plot to deceive the league and take advantage of the other hapless teams, as much as the dearly departed Senator Arlen Specter wanted to make you believe. (I try to be a good person, but every so often I think about spending the rest of my life being a huge prick and going to hell so I can finally give Specter a piece of my mind. Him getting involved was the most preposterous, unbelievable, and blatant example of overstepping your bounds and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong of all time. He was just bitter his beloved Eagles lost in the Super Bowl so he thought there had to be a nefarious reason. It wasn’t the fact that the quarterback of his team spent the entire fourth quarter puking and still doesn’t know the rules to overtime or anything. It couldn’t be that.) And Deflategate, I mean… If you believe this was anything besides a witch hunt (even before the Giants were accused of doing the same thing and the league quickly cited the Ideal Gas Law as an explanation) you are a moron of colossal proportions. It was the biggest crock of shit in the history of this country. It was just a bunch of jealous, petty owners trying to finally get one over on the team that has spent the better part of two decades beating their brains in. It’s been confirmed that it was a sting operation! High ranking people in the league offices were involved, including Goodell! Could you imagine a group of NBA owners conspiring against Lebron because they were sick of him dominating? Could you imagine the outrage those teams would face? Would they be thrown in jail? They would certainly be forced to sell (look into this, Knicks fans). But, because the NFL controls the press and got out in front of this early, public opinion was already set before the actual facts came out. But, whatever, the Patriots cheat, everyone knows that. No one else does bad things. The Giants would never do things like intercept other teams’ radio signals, keep confessed wife beaters on the team for way too long, or deify a cocaine addicted, underage prostitute buying monster of a man. They’re a classy organization. The Steelers would never trip an opposing player on a kick return, employ a doctor at the head of an illegal steroids ring, rely on a quarterback who has been accused of sexual assault a million times, or not suspend a coach when he gets in a huge bar fight. They’re a classy organization. The Seahawks would never do something like have a giant PED epidemic, practice illegally, or keep players off the injury report all season. They’re a classy organization. The Ravens would never build a statue for a murderer, blame a victim of domestic violence for “her role in the incident,” or make a deranged psychopath who has been accused of everything under the sun, most notably pouring bleach on his kid a captain. They’re a classy organization not the Patriots. You get my point.

But I think out of all the transgressions against the Patriots this week, the one that really got me going was the notion that Aaron Rodgers was suddenly the best quarterback of all time. Now, don’t get me wrong. He’s probably one of the six best quarterbacks ever. But best? Over Tom Brady? Because he made some good throws? Call me skeptical. Sure Rodgers is talented. He’s probably the most talented qb to ever play the game. He can do things that Brady could never dream of doing. Which is what makes Brady better. He’s overcome his obvious physical shortcomings to have the greatest and most successful career ever. This is his 7th Super Bowl appearance. Only four teams have that many. Rodgers has one championship and a growing resume of underwhelming playoff losses. He’s essentially a better version of Dan Marino. Why does he get such a free pass for kind of sucking when they lose? Brady gets raked over the coals when he doesn’t play well and they win. I keep hearing that Rodgers does everything on his own. That he has no help around him. While he obviously can’t do anything about the lousy defense, I was curious about the claim that he’s working with trash teammates. So, I did some research. I figured a good gauge of “talent” was draft position, so I took a look at every player that caught a pass this season for the Packers and the Patriots and calculated their average draft position (since there are 253 players drafted every year, I gave any undrafted player a value of 254). The Packers’ players averaged a draft position of 133. So a late fourth rounder. Not all that great. The Patriots stand at 172. A late fifth rounder. That’s a fairly significant difference. Well the random undrafted guys who catch one pass can skew the result, obviously. Well what about the cores of the passing game, the guys who caught at least 30 passes? The Packers are at 72. A third rounder. Not bad. The Patriots are at 158. A fifth rounder. A full two rounds’ difference between the main guys Aaron Rodgers is throwing to and the main guys Tom Brady is throwing to. I didn’t feel like doing that for every team, so I don’t know how it all compares, but don’t tell me Rodgers has no one around him when Brady is working with less pure talent than Rodgers is. But I think it’s just a case of Brady fatigue. Rodgers was the hot name, so he was advertised as the best. I guess I can understand it. After all, it happened last year with Steph Curry and Lebron. But it’s just so dismissive with Brady. There’s such a level of contempt that’s not there for any long-dominant player.

The true hatred for Brady is something I struggle to understand. Is his not a true American story? He could barely start in college. He was drafted 199 overall. Odds were against him even making the roster. He was behind an established starter who had no intention of giving up the position. He was a nobody. But, he got an opportunity. And he ran with it. And his maniacal drive and obsession with perfection lead him to get better and better and better. Aren’t those the qualities we celebrate in business? Isn’t hitting it big and marrying a super model every little boy’s dream? Is it just a case of jealousy? Whenever I ask people why they hate Brady, they just come back with some nonsense and settle on “he’s arrogant.” But he’s not. He’s the perfect teammate. He’s the perfect leader. He has never once taken credit for his success. He always defers to teammates in wins and takes the blame when they lose. And he’s one of the most charitable players in the league and a great dad. “He’s a crybaby and yells at the refs.” I guess you weren’t watching Aaron Rodgers scream at the officials the entire second half on Sunday. (Of course, it was after they were well beaten so it may have just been a way to try and save face and get people talking about how competitive he is.) Or when every other quarterback in the league does it. “He yells at teammates.” Only when he they mess up. (By the way, I hate when people get mad at qbs for yelling at teammates. He’s the leader of the team, of course he’s going to yell at people. He needs to make sure everyone is on the same page. I have no problem when Brady does it, just like I have no problem when Matt Stafford does it, just like I have no problem when Jay Cutler does it, just like I had no problem when Peyton did it.  Sometimes it’s the best way to get the best out of a player. The best leaders know what motivates everyone. That’s why the player you see Brady yell at the most is Edelman. It gets him going. Meanwhile, he hardly ever gets on Gronk’s case, because he knows that probably wouldn’t work. Brady’s greatest skill may be his leadership. He inspires supreme confidence in everyone he meets. I’ve obviously never met him (I think I’d die if I did) but I would take a bullet for him. I would willingly sacrifice my life for him if it meant he got to play another year in New England.) The arguments are all so tired and stupid. Tom Brady is the greatest football player ever. Period. End of story. Years from now, you’ll look back on your blind hatred of him with shame. He’s the greatest ever yet still the most humble. How can you hate that? How can you hate this level of self-made greatness? I count it as one of the greatest privileges of my entire life to have watched his career from day one. You should, too.

So there you have it. Hopefully I changed your mind a bit. Maybe not. Maybe this post is exactly why you hate the Patriots and their fans in the first place. I don’t even know if any point I made made any sense. I kind of blacked out when writing this. At the very least, I hope you have a greater appreciation for the dynasty you’re watching. But, as always, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the Falcons are gonna win by 30. Good. More fuel to the immortal fire that drives the Patriots Express. Now either get on board or get off the tracks. I’d hate for one of my readers to join the long list of Patriots’ victims.