Petty Patriots Fans or Persistent Advocates?
by Sheilla Dingus
There’s been a fair amount of speculation in recent days regarding who these people who call themselves “Defenders of the Wall” really are.
Antagonistic fans of other teams will readily call us “petty” among other choice words for the stand we take on behalf of the Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Surprisingly, a number of people within Patriots Nation seem to feel the same way. “Just let it rest, there’s nothing you can do,” is the sentiment expressed. There are a few who are curious: “Who are these people, and what do they think they’re doing?” And then a few folks seem to see us as some kind of super Patriots fan heroes.
As is with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between, so in a slightly biased editorial manner, please indulge me as we launch the first article in our new website, to tell you what we believe, and why we do what we do.
Yes, the first thing you need to know is that we are, in fact, New England Patriots fans. The Defenders administration came together as a group, joined in frustration at the unfair penalties levied against the Patriots as a result of the drama known as “Deflategate.” One thing all members of the administration shared in common at the time we met, was that we had done our homework. All had read and studied the available evidence in the case, as well as a plethora of articles by credible journalists, and had walked away with the same conclusion – justice had been breached. But instead of merely complaining we shared a desire to actually try to do something.
Somewhere along the journey, though, we came to realize that Deflategate is not just about the Patriots. It’s not just about deflated footballs and how they came to be that way. It’s about an empirical power struggle that threatens the very core of professional football.
If one can glean anything from history, it should be that absolute power is not a good thing under any circumstances. The adage that expresses, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” has been proven time and time again. Another lesson to be considered is that many seemingly invincible forces have crumbled due in part to their struggle to retain absolute control at any cost. When authoritarians are hated, they tend to maintain dominance through fear and manipulation – sometimes for long spans of time – but eventually those who have been subjugated become emboldened to rise above their fear and fight back. Often in cases such as this, casualty numbers and attrition rates are high, especially in the early stages of resistance, but persistence and perseverance pays off in the end. A prime example of this is the founding of our own United States of America, when a ragtag band of militia-men took on the superpower of their day – the Royal British Army.
Battles of words, thoughts, and ideals have consequence too. Slavery was abolished. Women vote. Workers unions have been formed, and sweatshops dismantled. People of color are no longer forced to hold an inferior place in society. So many more examples abound! All came about because someone chose to speak up, inspiring others to follow, until their voices could not be drowned out or silenced.
It is for this reason we speak and act. Call us pragmatic idealists if you will. We know and understand that we will not defeat high-level corruption in the League single-handedly. But we are idealistic enough to believe that if we speak and act persistently that, along with other voices, perhaps we may influence someone, or a group of someones who can in fact take the proper action to restore common decency, fairness, and true integrity, within the structure of the National Football League.
And so, the quest continues. We know not where it will lead, only that it is a journey that must be taken.
To those, who have joined our ranks, we thank you for your trust and strive to provide sound leadership. To those in positions of influence who have been supportive and helpful we offer immense gratitude. To critics, or those on the fence who can show us a better way, we are your willing and eager students. Teach us.
The Defenders administration is composed of a cross section of ordinary people who share a not so ordinary vision. We’re not perfect. We occasionally find ourselves in a rant, when we could possibly be more restrained. We can, and sometimes do make mistakes. Hopefully we learn from them.
We hope you will join in our journey, and that we can lift our voices together as one. It doesn’t matter which team you root for in the end. It only matters that you care about fairness for everyone.
The recent ruling handed down by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals wasn’t about Tom Brady’s guilt or innocence. It was about if Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated between The NFL and NFLPA, and whether or not it gives the commissioner absolute authority over punishment in matters of “conduct detrimental to the integrity of the league.” At the present time, the ruling says that it does. This is an unsettling thought, because the commissioner , alone determines on a case by case basis what conduct is detrimental; this in and of itself, is a subjective decision that does not have to be based on fact, precedent, or severity of offense. Roger Goodell can then hand out whatever punishment he sees fit to whomever he chooses, for any reason whatsoever, as long as he deems the conduct “detrimental.” Join with us in opposition to Article 46. Let your voice be heard. Your team could be next. Think not? Two years ago, who thought football air pressure could be such a big deal?