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Just Alito Football Analogy

January 14, 2006

There is a perfect blog storm brewing here at the Stump. We’ve been going on and on about the Alito Supreme Court confirmation hearings this week, and once again we’ve been subjected to some of the worst sports analogies ever devised. At the same time, later today, Stump Lane favorites the New England Patriots will compete in the AFC divisional playoffs in Denver.

So Your Montag has been looking back on AFC divisional playoffs of Patriots past. Namely the AFC divisional playoffs at the end of the 2001 season. They took place in New England in the driving snow against the Oakland Raiders. That game would prove to be both the end and the beginning of an era. It was both the final game at the Patriots old home Foxboro Stadium, and one step on the road to their first of three Superbowl victories in four years.

That game against the Raiders wasn’t all pudding and whipped cream for the Patriots. The snow had made for a low-scoring game. Our Patriots were actually trailing the Raiders 13-10 in the fourth quarter. It came down to a last chance for the Patriots, and as they drove down the field, disaster struck.

Quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass. He pumped the ball a couple of times looking for an open receiver. But the defense got to him and the ball ended up on the ground. It was ruled a fumble by the officials on the field. The Patriots gallant run was over.

But wait! Instant replay. The officials would consult the video recordings to make sure they got the call correct. What happened on that play, really?

In super slow-motion it didn’t look like a simple fumble caused by the tackler. Brady’s arm had been moving forward! Was it a fumble or an incomplete pass? Was Brady trying to get a pass off? Or was he trying to bring the ball in to protect it? Pass? Or “tuck?”

Now, Your Secular Montag is not a religious man, but what I was doing during that instant replay review— crouching on top of the basement family-room couch breathlessly pleading, “Incomplete, incomplete, incomplete…” —might easily have been mistaken for praying. I was certainly trying to bring the power of my will to bear on the proceedings.

The referee came out from the shroud of the instant replay video terminal and made the call, “After reviewing the play, the quarterback’s arm was going forward, it is an incomplete pass…”

The Montag’s woke the kids with raucous celebration.

From then out it seemed almost cliche as the fairystory ending played out. Patriots place kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal in regulation to tie, and another in overtime for the win.

YOU: For the love of all that is warm and smells like fresh baked pie, Montag, get to the point!

ME: Ok, ok, jeeze!

Consider the infamous play, and the instant replay ruling that has come to be known as “the tuck rule.” Now, there is no “tuck rule” in the NFL rulebook. There are rules defining what a pass is and rules defining what a fumble is. The instant replay man, had to evaluate the evidence and make a ruling. He had to try and determine the intent of the quarterback, if you will, in order to inform his decision.

Much like a Supreme Court Justice! Ha!

Ok: replace Our Patriots with “congress,” the Raiders with “the executive,” the referees with “the Supreme Court” and the NFL rules with “the Constitution.” Now we’re getting somewhere.

Now: let’s say the play on the field is a piece of legislation. The Patriots team (congress) makes the play (legislation) with a certain intent in mind – in this case: forward pass. The Raiders (the president) interprets the intent of the play (legislation) – in this case: “tuck.”

At this point, we could even say the ruling on the field of “fumble” is the lower court’s decision, and that the ruling after review of “incomplete pass” is the Supreme Court’s decision.

Finally, let’s add a wrinkle: What if one of the referee’s (Supreme Court Justices) felt that it was correct and proper to “give great deference” to the Raider’s (President’s) interpretation of what happened on the play (the intent of the legislation)? What if greater deference was given to the Raider’s (again, President’s) interpretation than to the Patriot’s (again, Congress’) intent? (I mean, to be honest, you could really argue either way based solely on the video evidence in this case.)

I’ll tell you what would happen in this case: the Patriots would lose!

BOO-YA!! THAT’S how you make a motherfuckin’ football analogy. Eat my shorts, Senator Grassley! Your ass is grassley. HAHAHAHAHA!! [Redunkulous end-zone celebration dance here and a dizzy-making, endlessly spinning, pigskin projectile.]

But seriously: outcomes hinge on the philosophy of Supreme Court Justices; and Judge Alito believes in a strong executive. “The theory of the “unitary executive . . . best captures the meaning of the constitution’s text and structure,” says Alito. [Fact Check: Judge Alito and Presidential Power]

Herein lies the problem with confirming Alito.

  1. January 15, 2006 2:14 AM

    Outstanding analogy, Montag.

    I’m sorry the Pats fell today. I always root against Shanahan (big republican douchebag), even though I’m an NFC guy (Go Hawks!).

  2. January 16, 2006 2:19 PM

    Yes. Two days later and I am still hung over from the agony of defeat. (That, and the bottle of Jägermeister.)

    Breaking with my long-standing tradition of supporting the AFC, I may throw in with the Seahawks. (Despite a sentimental draw to the Steelers, I can’t really support them out of the spite of a rocky history.)

    A Denver-Carolina superbowl would be a non-starter altogether. I even hate the stupid fucking commercials, so I could potentially end up watching tivo’ed episodes of MXC instead.

  3. January 16, 2006 5:02 PM

    Hey, you can’t go wrong with MXC. Is it just me, or is that show getting stranger and stranger? I would love to find the undubbed Japanese version of “Takeshi’s Castle”. Takeshi Kitano is a genius.

  4. January 16, 2006 7:50 PM

    Aside from that show, I’ve only seen him in Johnny Mnemonic (that I recall anyway.) It was pretty cool though when I made that connection.

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