Internet Creates Referee Conspiracy After Patriots Beat Jaguars In AFC Championship Game
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- There are millions of otherwise normal people whose brains apparently melt down into some radioactive goo every time Tom Brady and the Patriots win another big football game.
That's at least the only plausible explanation for the latest "CONTROVERSY" surrounding New England's football team, after the Patriots' incredible 24-20 comeback over the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. This "CONTROVERSY" stems from referee Clete Blakeman ... (get ready for this) ... (I hope you're sitting down) ... tapping Brady on the back and chest and congratulating him for the win.
Sorry. Probably should have thrown out a "NSFW" warning on that one. It's a truly graphic video.
You might be saying, "Oh, come on. Just because someone named OurStateCSU tweets a video doesn't mean a real controversy is brewing." But, oh, it is.
The video itself had been viewed more than 3 million times by Monday morning. The New York Post picked it up and ran with it quickly after the game, and also included a video of one of the officials seemingly chumming it up with the Patriots after a touchdown.
(In actuality, the official was telling Patriots tackle Cameron Fleming to relax after the officials didn't call a penalty for Myles Jack's late tackle and helmet slap on James White in the end zone.)
The Daily Mail ran a story on it, going with a perfect Daily Mail headline of, "NFL conspiracy theorists claim footage of an official congratulating Tom Brady after comeback victory proves the Patriots are unfairly favored by refs (after New England were only called for ONE foul all game)."
That's quite the mouthful. Apparently, SEO isn't a huge deal across the pond.
Anyway, there was no conspiracy at play. You might remember Blakeman as the referee who decided to pick up a flag after Rob Gronkowski was blatantly interfered with on the final play of a Monday Night Football game in 2013. Blakeman congratulated Brady because referees typically have pretty cordial relationships with quarterbacks, and they communicate regularly throughout the game. Though Brady chewed out Blakeman pretty harshly after that Carolina game in 2013, the two were seen shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries before the game on Sunday.
But this is what happens when the Patriots win. We've seen every conspiracy fly from every angle at this point. If a referee so much as helps Brady to his feet after the quarterback takes a heavy hit, a video ends up getting thousands of retweets. Many people were up in arms after last year's Super Bowl, claiming that somewhere there was clear visual evidence that James White didn't cross the goal line on the game-winning touchdown in overtime. I once saw someone who apparently had never seen a football game before post a video clamoring about conspiracy when Brady signaled to the official to reset the play clock and -- believe it or not -- the official reset the play clock. This happens in every football game, but it only gets spotlighted when it's Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are involved.
And that's without even getting into the utter nonsense shared by actual journalists about secret TV screens and illicit ball deflation schemes and Belichick surreptitiously obtaining flight manifests of opponents, or journalists who publish "well-founded whispers" from members of teams that lost to the Patriots. And it's without getting into opposing players and coaches getting spooked by the boogeyman and insinuating that the Patriots mess with headsets and bug locker rooms and dive through dumpsters to obtain secret information and keep opponents' beverages at a warm temperature.
As you can see, it gets a bit out of hand.
But that is what happens when a team wins as much as the Patriots do. It is not a coincidence; Brady and Belichick are just better at their jobs than all of their contemporaries. People struggle to accept it. Sometimes you want to go all Antoine Dodson on them, but it's best to just accept it as a reality of life. It happens. Life moves on. And so do the Patriots. To the Super Bowl.
We all look forward to seeing what conspiracy theories will generate from spooked fans on Super Sunday.
You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
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