SportsPulse: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on how it feels to lose a Super Bowl, and what he’s focused on heading into Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
USA TODAY Sports
ST. PAUL — As the cesspool that defines Boston sports talk radio dragged Tom Brady’s 5-year-old daughter into the slime last weekend, prompting the New England Patriots quarterback to quickly end his regular Monday morning interview with WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” show, one question came to mind.
Why does Brady besmirch himself by appearing on those airwaves in the first place?
If a young weekend host calling Brady’s daughter “a little pissant” is what makes him quit Boston sports radio for good, well, it should do nothing but enhance your opinion of him. But why did it take so long?
In too many markets across the country, sports talk radio has been a safe space for (mostly white) men to engage in the kind of crude misogyny, sophomoric homophobia, veiled racism and downright cruelty that is no longer acceptable in any other setting. But Boston has been more notorious than most for radio hosts who pull one outrageous stunt after another with little consequence to their careers.
When you have hosts who mock the death of Roy Halladay, turn a gorilla escaping a zoo into racist jokes, casually muse about hiring somebody to murder NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, call Erin Andrews a “gutless bitch,” call Al Horford soft for missing a game due to his wife giving birth, make fun of Jeff Green’s heart surgery and suggest a Red Sox sideline reporter was sleeping with a player, why would anyone who works in that marketplace think there are limits to what you can say and who you can go after?
It should surprise no one that such an incubator of bombast eventually produced someone like 25-year-old Alex Reimer, who went where nobody in the sports talk business should go: to the children.
For his part, Brady was more gracious than he could have been when he got to the podium Monday night at the official media day event. Earlier in the day, he ended the interview by saying, “I’ll obviously evaluate whether I want to come on this show again. I don’t have much to say this morning. Maybe I’ll speak with you guys some other time. Have a good day.”
That, of course, blew it up into a national story. But by the time the Patriots got to the Twin Cities, Brady had seemingly calmed down and, more importantly, made his point.
Instead of crushing someone’s career on the spot, Brady said he didn’t want to see the now-suspended Reimer lose his job.
“We all have careers and we all make mistakes and I mean, I’d hate for someone to have to change their life over something like that,” Brady say. “That was certainly not what he intended.”
There’s good reason for Brady to give the station some benefit of the doubt. Just last week, the Patriots and WEEI’s parent company announced a multi-year (and likely lucrative) contract extension that provides the station interviews with Patriots players on shows throughout the week, including with Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
But aside from the money, why is this a partnership worth saving?
Look, we all know sports talk radio isn’t NPR. It’s largely an audience of men between the ages of 25 and 54, and as a card-carrying member of that group, I can attest that what often entertains us isn’t necessarily sophisticated.
But the brand of sports talk that seems particular to Boston isn’t just blockheaded, it’s downright embarrassing for anyone with a sense of decency. And that should have been obvious long before a radio host made an offhanded remark about a little girl, which is bad but not singularly wretched in the recent history of that station or that market.
Just a couple months ago, in fact, Kirk Minihane — one of the hosts Monday morning — staged a “protest” at the offices of a rival station demanding another host with a history of saying controversial things be fired over the Halladay bit. But Minihane’s joke, of course, was a spoof on protestors themselves as he claimed on camera he was “sexually assaulted” and part of a “movement.”
As with most things on Boston sports talk, it wasn’t funny.
But it’s puzzling why a city with such a long history of dumbing down the discourse in its sports radio culture was turned on its head by what happened Monday and not the dozens of disgraceful incidents before. Sure, even mentioning Brady’s kid in an unfavorable way is crossing a line. But until Monday, how would you have known there even were any lines to cross in Boston?
Outside of New England, hardly anyone paid much attention to Brady’s association with WEEI before Monday. But now that this story has gone national, it’s fair to wonder what took him so long to be offended by what’s on its airwaves.
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