I hear it all the time in various phrases, but it basically comes down to this: “Cheatriots fans are the worst! Always got an imaginary chip on their shoulder.”
But today has only exemplified why the ‘Us versus Them’ mentality has been ingrained in us and why a legion of Patriots fans feel the need to Defend the Wall of Patriots Nation.
Thursday afternoon, Darius Fleming…a man who was recently in the news this past December, when he and Patriots rookie, Brandon King bought Target gift cards and handed them to random holiday shoppers for Christmas…was in the news again today.
At first it was all good news: He kicked in a car window to help a woman who was frantically trying to get out of a locked car filled with smoke after a three car accident. It was how he got a cut on his leg that required 22 stitches.
He didn’t bring this to the media. He was shy about it. He told his teammate Devin McCourty who wanted to know what happened to his leg. After hearing the story, McCourty forced Fleming to give a “hero speech” to the team. The media asked Fleming and others about it after the news was leaked. Teammate Rob Ninkovich said, “I think it represents his character, he’s a great person. Anyone in the situation when someone’s life is in danger, you have to act on it and not just watch.” (source)
After what he had recently done during Christmas time for unsuspecting holiday shoppers, I would say this fits Darius Fleming and the kind of person he is.
But that wasn’t enough for TMZ and Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. A feel good story needs to be confirmed and checked. They didn’t do their homework and were quick to make assumptions that Fleming’s story could not be confirmed. Unfortunately for them, the story was confirmed and true, yet even then they still tried to defend their actions without any apology to Darius Fleming. [Update, as of 9:30pm, Ben Volin Tweeted an apology. TMZ has not.]
Do I have a chip on my shoulder that a reporter or tabloid sleaze tried to check up on Fleming’s story? Not at all.
If we were any other team I may not even be mad at their sloppy work and making assumptions before gathering all the facts in an attempt to be the first to break yet another Patriots drama story days before the AFCCG on Twitter.
This is the kind of stuff that sends other anti-Patriots fans and media frothing at the mouth because they expect reporters to do their job and give them accurate information.
But even that isn’t what bother’s Pats fan at the heart of it all.
This is where our chips lie:
What would be the media reaction if Peyton Manning did what Darius Fleming had done?
Because this was the media reaction when Peyton Manning was accused of…not helping a woman in a car accident…but for having HGH shipped to his Florida home under his wife’s name during the time he was recovering with a bad neck injury:
“It’s a non-story.” ~Jim Nantz of CBS
“If he said he didn’t do it, it didn’t happen. Then it didn’t happen, he didn’t do it.” ~Keyshawn Jackson of ESPN
“Here’s the thing that bothers me: Al Jazeera is not a credible news organization. They’re out there spreading garbage. That’s what they do. yet we give them credibility by talking about it. They’re garbage. That’s what they are.” ~Mike Ditka of ESPN
And yet I still hear things like this from our very own NFL commissioner:
“Every single player expects those rules to apply to everybody,” Goodell said. “Every coach does, every fan does, every partner, every team does. So our rules and the integrity of our game aren’t because somebody’s popular or somebody’s a Super Bowl champ or not. They’re to be applied evenly. Our teams expect that, and that’s our job. That’s our responsibility. That’s my job.” (source)
Darius Fleming has done nothing to deserve questioning in the first place, yet here we are. And there are still those who are even questioning it’s validity and whether or not this is a police cover up.
And people wonder why we Patriots fans have a chip on our shoulder. We come down hard. We do our research. We say innocent until proven guilty.
Because we know that no one else will do it for us. Not the reporters or the media or even the NFL.
We will always Defend the Wall of Patriots Nation, not as twelves, but as one.