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This week, Tim Thomas made a choice. He chose not to join his teammates at a White House ceremony honoring the Boston Bruins for their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship. Thomas released a statement to the public stating why he did not want to attend the ceremony. It had something to do with big government, rights of the people, and property.
For the record, I think Thomas made a mistake. I think regardless of ideology, being invited to the White House is a privilege. I think meeting the President of the United States with your teammates is a pretty cool gig and I think you should go. I think THAT office deserves THAT respect, regardless of who the President is and regardless of his party. Thomas chose not to; he has that right, but I think he chose poorly. That’s where the story should end. And the coverage of the story should have ended in a sports flash on Monday night. But it didn’t, it went on and on and on, and by Tuesday, you would have thought based on the media reaction and subsequent public reaction that Tim Thomas challenged President Obama to a fistfight.
So this is where the hypocrisy comes into play. In 2007, Theo Epstein, then the GM and VP of the Boston Red Sox, snubbed President Bush in the same way Tim Thomas did. Theo Epstein then was an executive representing the team, he wasn’t just a player. Theo didn’t give a big statement, and he just made some stupid excuse and didn’t go. I mean, how could he? What would Eddie Vedder have thought of him? In 2004, Theo did attend the White House ceremony, but refused to pose with President Bush for any pictures. You all remember that visceral reaction to Theo’s snub don’t you?
Oh you don’t? You want to know why, because there wasn’t a reaction to Theo’s snub. The local media didn’t seem to have a problem with that one. I invite anyone reading this to perform a Google search on articles or comments condemning Theo Epstein’s snub of President Bush in 2007. Good luck if you can find one by page 58 on Google.
Nope, you see in Massachusetts when a liberal snubs a Republican, it’s OK, but when a conservative snubs a Democrat, it’s a sin. I don’t care either way, they’re both wrong. However in Thomas’s case, it was worthy of three days of talk radio discussion, sports articles, racist tweets (did you know that Tim Thomas has 3 kids with names that begin with K), and some of the most pathetic rants by the media that made me not only question their integrity, but their sanity.
So why the double standard? Has partisanship engulfed this country so much that we can’t even separate it from the sports world? I ask that question to Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Kevin Paul DuPont, Joe MacDonald, Joe Haggerty and every other phony who piled on Thomas. The first mention I heard of Theo’s snub wasn’t until late Monday night when Michael Holley mentioned it on Sports Tonight. Until then, all Michael Felger could come up with was Eddie Vedder, Mark Chmura and Bruce Springsteen. What a bunch of hypocrites you all are. I confronted many of you with tweets or emails; I heard either silence or excuses like “I wasn’t on the Red Sox beat.”
As for Felger and Mazz, well, for two guys who like to state how much they hate all the “political stuff,” they often have political opinions. Mazz has flat out said he does not like Republicans and Felger constantly mentions the “people” that watch Fox News. So it’s clear they have an ideology. That’s fine; the hosts on many of the shows on WEEI have an ideology. I don’t mind the ideology; I mind the hypocrisy behind it. Felger on Wednesday said he condemned Theo back when he was working at ESPN 890. I would love to hear the audio on that. Funny on many of my long commutes home I fail to remember any of it, but I do remember lots of Spygate talk, though.
Tuesday afternoon, the criticism became calamity when Mazz finally went off the tracks. Tony said, and I am paraphrasing slightly, ‘if you don’t like the government in this country Tim Thomas, move to Finland!!’ I guess that was because Thomas played there once?
I couldn’t believe it. A career newspaper writer and media personality advocating AGAINST free speech! What a complete joke. (Tony has since apologized for the comment). Felger was no better in some of critiques of Thomas. He stated that because Thomas was earning a living playing a “game,” he should be more thankful to his country. It’s comments like that one, which really makes me wonder if Felger has ever read an American History book. If every affluent person didn’t exercise their right of free speech, what type of country would this be? So, if your wealth is from a “game,” your opinion matters less than someone’s who gained wealth through manual labor? What about the talk show hosts Mike? Don’t they deserve their free speech? Should they not be allowed their First Amendment rights? It’s entertainment, I heard John Henry say so. Thank you to Toucher and Rich for being the voice of reason on this topic from the beginning. They actually had to comically call out their fellow colleague at 98.5 to make the point clear.
So by Wednesday, I thought this story would finally have died down. It didn’t, it evolved. Michael Felger, citing articles written by Joseph Haggerty and Fluto Shinzawa, discussed the possibility that this would lead to Tim Thomas being traded because he was not popular in the locker room. Felger, then asked his listening audience what they thought of the possibility of trading Tim Thomas.
For the small percentage of Bruins fans that would even consider this, let me enlighten you. Without Tim Thomas, you would still be staring up at that 1972 Stanley Cup Championship banner. Don’t let the media sway you into running the best player on your team and maybe in the league, out of town.
This was a witch hunt, an ideological witch hunt. Because, as I said before when Theo Epstein and Michael Jordan snub Republicans it’s not even discussed, but Tim Thomas, well he’s enemy number one. As I said before, I didn’t agree with Thomas’ decision, but at least he did back it up. He didn’t hide away under media cover like the Boy Wonder Theo Epstein.
I can’t tell yet if this is just a Boston problem or it’s symptomatic of the negativity that is encompassing the entire world including sports. I hope this issue is finally coming to an end, but let’s not forget, Thomas is just the latest to fall under attack in his own town. I was conflicted writing this column, because I believe sports is the one place where politics has little place. At the same time, I can’t just sit by and listen to the media pick and choose who they get to stone.
There’s still about a week until the Super Bowl hysteria really takes off, so I found it interesting that the #1 Sports talk show in Boston chose to spend half its show focusing on Patriot cheating allegations. Felger and Mazz have clearly decided that they want to live in the world of tabloid, and their minions are there to follow them. But, on the flagship network of the New England Patriots, Felger is still talking about Spygate. He is talking about an article citing them for cheating in 2007, he is talking about corrupted scoreboard operators and even talking about the Patriots being involved with sideline headphone communications. Of course, Felger says he doesn’t BELIEVE any of these allegations, but I then wonder, why discuss them?
So let me enlighten you, in a down week when there is no football game, no baseball season, a struggling basketball team and a hockey All-Star break, Felger is returning to his contrarian roots and he knows calling the Patriots cheaters brings anger and ratings. Just like bringing up the Jets, firing Claude Julien (last year) and trading Tim Thomas.
It’s all about getting the radio listener outraged enough that he’ll keep listening. Felger actually had the audacity to threaten not to take calls this week because they were not up to his liking. It’s funny how the local media king whose popularity was built on his listening fans is now above them.
Well, the Super Bowl can’t come fast enough. Media day should be fun next week, when I am sure Felger will mention Spygate, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady’s declining game and the Patriots’ “value” proposition. This will all take place next to his buddies at WEEI on Radio Row. He will then go on to praise the Patriots and then pick them to win the Super Bowl. As for Tony, well he’ll probably be on the lookout for any rebels speaking out against our great government.