Hours before Pittsburgh demolished Carolina in the Thursday night game this week, I watched a puckish ESPN reporter delivering the big news: Antonio Brown had just been ticketed for driving more than 100 miles per hour in a 45 zone. The Pittsburgh-based reporter grinned as she disclosed that the incident would have no impact on the big game.
The story provided no clarity on the issue that came to mind: why was Brown in such a hurry? Perhaps he was rushing off to meet with his money manager. A man who makes $17 million per annum might be concerned about his investments. Or, given his pre-existing legal issues, he might have (ironically? fortuitously?) been on the way to a conference with his legal team.
Understandably, however, the journalist had no such curiosity. Her mission was to assure Pittsburgh fans — and, I assume, the handicapping public — that Brown had been neither detained by the authorities nor reprimanded by the team, and thus be able to maintain his focus on the upcoming mercilessly attack on the feckless Panthers.
This was a relief. Some might argue for a multiple-game suspension when a player endangers the lives of countless citizens by going more than twice the speed limit on a congested four-lane road. Of course, there will be no suspension. After all, Brown faces the ignominy of being slapped with a fine of — get this — up to $200.
I guess I am becoming my father, because stories like this piss me off. I try not to spend my indignation too freely, because the result can be self-destructive. Moreover, our political climate has blurred the line between indignation and performance art. Go home, folks. Nothing to see here. Just another prominent sociopath acting like a homicidal jerk.
If there’s a certain amount of class consciousness in all this, we should be neither surprised nor apologetic. Athletes and other obscenely wealthy celebrities enjoy the American tradition of justice for all who have money. We could turn to Scandinavia for a more egalitarian approach.
Those countries often base traffic fines on the offender’s income. For example, there was a story not long ago about a Finnish millionaire who was fined about $60,000 for driving 64 in a 50 zone. Perhaps that’s going a bit too far, and yet the lefty in me wants to shout “Right on, my brothers and sisters!” The scofflaw took his indignation to Facebook because (a) he was indignant; and (b) he was over the age of 45. Just to illustrate what $60,000 would buy, his post included a picture of a shiny new Mercedes.
You might argue that he was making a better case for the prosecution than for the defense, but wouldn’t that be a bit judgmental?
Here we turn to the fun task of determining the equivalent of Brown’s fine were it imposed on an average U.S. worker. If my calculations are correct — which they probably aren’t — the fine would be the equivalent of dunning the typical worker somewhere around 45 cents.
So far, Brown hasn’t issued a statement. Not verbally, anyway. When he arrived at Heinz field a few hours after his latest threat to public safety, he greeted the local news cameras with the traditional “We’re Number One” salute, albeit with his middle finger. Three times. With a decided upward thrust.
Brown wasn’t talking, but the Steelers promptly addressed the media. The gist of the corporate message being: they know nothing. By the time this monograph is posted, the front office will undoubtedly assure us that they are monitoring the situation.
For those who worry that the NFL’s most obnoxious receiver (and not for lack of competition) might be caught unprepared, it’s comforting to know that his legal team was already in place. His attorneys have been enjoying scores of billable hours because of an alleged tantrum during which Brown trashed his rental condo and threw furniture from his 14th floor, $35,000-per month residence in Florida. Aside from the property damage, he’s accused of nearly impaling a baby and the infant’s grandfather.
Normally, when we hear news about an AB controversy, it’s because he’s complaining about not getting enough targets. So, all outrage aside, the high-altitude meltdown is refreshing for irony alone.
Of course, we cannot pass judgment until all the facts are known. Until then, I’m monitoring the situation.
Last week was uneventful, as I earned the smallest of profits. This week, I find myself in a state of ennui thanks to a small slate and numerous injuries that leave me guessing as to which key players may or may not suit up. Perhaps I am experiencing a slight mid-season crisis. But we soldier on with two bankroll plays, a ploy with that, ideally, will produce a 1-1 outcome and a sliver of dignity:
Washington at Tampa Bay
Ryan Fitzpatrick came through for my Bucs over play last week, and now I’m going back to the well — in all probability once too often, to complete the traditional cliche. If Mike Evans is in the mood to catch the football, that would be a big plus. Three of Tampa’s most recent five opponents have scored season highs. Technical trends abound, but the Redskins are 8-1 Over on the road vs. the NFC South.
The pick: Bucs 31, Redskins 27 — Over 51 1/2 for $50
Chargers at Oakland
Last week I watched Chuckie on the sideline as the Raiders were getting crushed by Indy, and he looked happier than a Wisconsin Democrat. I mean, he is loving getting crushed every week. And his real customers, my low-life brethren in Vegas, are loving it as they watch the Raiders rack up draft picks while starters get dispatched to the highest bidders. I don’t like laying 10 on the road any more than you should, but if I ever saw a team tanking in real time, this is the one.
Of course, that angle rarely works, but why should that stop me now? If you like the Chargers but not the 10, I can’t argue the point. Except to point out that since 1980, the Chargers are 117-10-2 vs. the spread when they win on the road.
The pick: San Diego 35, Oakland 13 — Chargers minus 10 for $50
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