The delirium over the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the New England Patriots seems to have been matched by delight in Tom Brady’s defeat and the phantom throw of the century.
There he was, arguably the greatest quarterback ever to caress the pigskin, about to throw a crucial pass in the final few minutes—and the ball disappeared. Knocked out of his hand by the Eagles’ Brandon Graham, the loose ball was then covered by Eagles lineman Derek Barnett while Brady, his mind and shoulder already melded in forward motion, continued with the pass anyway.
It was surely cringe-worthy in slow-motion replay—painful for fans but endlessly entertaining if you happen to be a die-hard Eagles fan. Or if, say, you’ll never forgive Brady for Deflategate.
Glee over Brady’s humiliation was widespread across social media. Rarely has schadenfreude—pleasure in another’s misery—been so enthusiastically expressed, fueled by contempt for the Patriots’ perennial success and the team’s kill-stare coach Bill Belichick; but mostly it was Brady, who, no matter what else he does, will always be a cheater in the minds of many football fans.
For them, Brady’s four-game suspension last year after an NFL investigation found “substantial and credible evidence” that Brady knew Patriots employees were deflating footballs (allegedly the way he liked them) wasn’t enough. Watching him lose control of the ball at a pivotal moment in the Super Bowl helped a lot.
But what the Eagles’ win revealed was that, while people might forgive a guy for cheating on his wife (see: world history), they seem to have a tougher time forgiving him for allegedly cheating on the field.
If many felt that Brady essentially received a pass with his brief suspension, Sunday was the day Karma came to Minneapolis.
To watch the underdog Eagles win was sublime in its own way, regardless of which team one supported. But to see Brady—this immensely talented guy who was born lucky, married luckier (supermodel Gisele) and honed his God-given talents to walk taller than most mortals—to see him tumble from the pantheon of myth came close to ecstasy.
Who needs mood-elevating pharmaceuticals when you can watch Tom Brady sit like a befuddled baby in the middle of a mash while his fully inflated ball takes a hike the other way?
Not yours truly. I’m still wincing. And, I was pulling for Brady for my own reasons, which have nothing to do with his lanky, chiseled good looks. Nothing. But I don’t hate him for those attributes, either, though some apparently do.
Tricia Romano recently wrote that Brady is the “embodiment of the Straight White Guy Who’s Never Had to Suffer for Anything in His Life” in an essay for longreads.com titled, “Why We Love to Hate Tom Brady.” Romano is also the author of the Twitter account now christened “Tom Brady has Finally Been Stopped.”
If you walk on water, someone’s going to want to drown you. (Ibid.)
Love him or hate him, Brady at work is a thing of beauty. Extreme competence is its own art form. As spectators, we vicariously experience immaculate execution and become part of a higher level of human endeavor. We can’t do whatever it is, but the fact of the feat itself elevates the viewer. Imagine being the doer.
That Brady at 40 is still pushing the limits and chasing his best is one of the reasons I was pulling for him. It’s the same with tennis.
As much as I love the Spaniard, I will always belong to the Swiss maestro. Watching Rafael Nadal, who is 31, and Roger Federer, 36, play singles is about as close as most people get to the ballet theater. But no perfectly executed quadruple pirouette is any more breathtaking than watching old man Federer race along the baseline and slide into a glissade to slam the ball cross-court into no-man’s corner pocket.
If Brady has been football’s most-hated hero, maybe his detractors can now see him as merely human and, thus, deserving of a second chance. But meanwhile, have you ever seen a more beautiful quarterback, inside and out, than Nick Foles? Fly, Eagles, fly!
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whew, what to make of this rollicking market. Although we have a good idea what happens next.
No, no, not the stock market. We learned all we need to know about those gyrations a few years ago from Albert “Ab” Nicholas, founder of the Nicholas investment company in Milwaukee. Nicholas, now deceased, advised thinking long-term rather than paying attention to Wall Street’s conniptions.
“Two-thirds of the time, stocks are going up,” Nicholas said, approximately. “One-third of the time, they’re going down. Don’t try to guess which third is which.”
No, the number that animates us today is over in the employment market: The Labor Department reports that in January wages for private-sector workers were 2.9 percent higher than a year earlier. That’s the biggest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009.
If this isn’t a blip, it’s excellent news. For most of the long but lazy recovery from that recession, Americans haven’t seen much in the way of wage increases.
It’s hard to distinguish causes from effects, but the U.S. economy was growing slowly, employers didn’t have to raise wages to retain their employees, and those workers didn’t have new infusions of income to drive consumer demand for the goods and services employers make or provide.
Now, though, the cycle looks more virtuous. If it keeps up, so will the faster economic growth of the past year.
Consider these data points:
The nation’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent—the lowest level since 2000—and held steady for four months.
Creation of 200,000 jobs in January—98 percent of them in the private sector—suggests that the U.S. economy continues to expand.
And in a development that deserves more attention, the Social Security Disability Insurance rolls are shrinking. During a weak job market, more people sign up for SSDI benefits; now, though, the number of SSDI applications is falling, and the number of people leaving the program is increasing.
All of which suggests that, after a slow-mo decade, America’s employment market is healthy again. So employers are boosting wages. Blip? Probably not.
The Labor Department revised its December measure of wage growth upward, and its January number came in higher than expected. Oh, and the wage growth numbers don’t yet include the impacts of federal income tax cuts. Nor do they include the bonuses some large employers announced for their workers.
Insert here your preferred political narrative. The Democratic mantra is that former President Barack Obama deserves credit for an employment market that was improving before he left office.
The Republican retort is that Obama would deserve the credit if President Donald Trump were continuing Obama’s policies, but the recovery didn’t escalate until Trump’s election presaged tax cuts and the elimination of many business regulations. Or you instead could conclude that presidents get too much blame and credit for economic trends on their watch.
If this cycle really is virtuous, then employers will have to keep paying higher wages to hire and keep workers. Those workers will have more money to spend. And that rising consumer demand for goods and services will force employers to, yes, compete with one another to hire and keep workers.
So you can understand why many economists expect wage growth to continue in the employment market this year.
And you can understand why those other markets—investment markets—fear that resulting inflation will undercut the value of stocks and bonds. Hence sell-offs like Monday’s.
What should you do? Trust Ab Nicholas: “Don’t try to guess which third is which.”
Please join me in supporting Judge Rebecca Dallet for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
She is a former law school professor, has worked effectively in the Milwaukee County and U.S. District Attorney's Office, and has 23 years of Wisconsin court experience.
I know her to be honest, forthright and skillful.
I agree with Judge Butler and over 175 other judges that she stands "up for Wisconsin values and working families."
Let her experience work for you and all of us.
On Feb. 20, Wisconsin voters will choose the two candidates who will be on the ballot in April for our Wisconsin Supreme Court.
This is an extremely important election.
Our Supreme Court makes decisions that have a major impact on the lives of every citizen in Wisconsin.
The Supreme Court makes the final decision on whether actions taken by our legislators and our governor are legal.
Supreme Court justices are not like circuit court judges. Justices do not conduct trials. Witnesses do not give testimony before the Supreme Court. Instead, Supreme Court justices rule on the constitutionality of laws.
Tim Burns has chaired the American Bar Association Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts and serves on the national board of the American Constitution Society, an organization that focuses on constitutional issues. He has the right experience, qualifications, demeanor and values to be Wisconsin’s next Supreme Court justice.
Tim has been married to Pam for over 20 years, and they have three children. He will help bring much-needed balance to our Supreme Court.
I urge you to vote for Tim Burns on Feb. 20.
PATRICK K. McDONALD
A “spinectomy” has been performed on a large portion of the GOP.
A “spinectomy” (as performed by Donald Trump) removes the spine from normal GOP persons along with partial portions of their frontal brain lobes. This procedure allows GOP members to walk and talk but renders them incapable of making rational judgments regarding the daily irrational and immoral actions of Trump.
Squeaker Paul Ryan is a great example of Trump’s “spinectomy” skills. Ryan is MIA when it comes to a rational moral leadership of the House and defense of our Constitution. There is nothing that Trump can do or say that will cause condemnation and/or action from Ryan. His strongest reprimand is some carefully worded statement like “unfortunate choice of words,” “morally ambiguous,” “needs to do better,” “it's not helpful.”
These are words you say to your 6-year-old, not a morally challenged president. On second thought, perhaps Trump is emotionally equivalent to a 6-year-old.
And then there is Sen. Ron Johnson. Johnson recently donned his tin-foil hat and rushed onto FOX News to say that an informant had personally told him about a “secret society” within the FBI that was attempting to bring down Trump. Later, his wife probably told him how stupid that sounded, and then Johnson modified his statement.
Trump’s payoff to a porn actress comes to light and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (a family values organization) gives Trump “a mulligan!"
Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up.