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Is It Morally Wrong to Be Happy When Your Former Players Fail?

Jimmy G Week 1

“It is not enough that I succeed. Others must also fail.” – Producer David Merrick

Let me state right off the top and in the strongest possible terms: I like Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s talented and handsome and a great teammate and hardworking and handsome and seems like a genuinely good guy and also bangs 41-year-old stars of MILF porn because he’s incredibly, incredibly handsome. I believe he deserves good things to happen in his life and I root for those things. Except that I’m also rooting for him to not succeed.

Since I always strive to make our relationship be all about trust, I’m just being honest when I say this made me happy yesterday:

But nearly not as much as this:

And when it came to Malcolm Butler’s debut with the Titans, this was great. An endzone interception against a Patriots divisional rival? I’ll take it all day long:

And yet, I enjoyed seeing Kenny Stills take a flamethrower to him for a 75-yard score even more:

Does that make me a bad person? I say “no.” Being a bad person makes me a bad person. This just makes me … what? Loyal, I guess? Partisan? Self-interested? I guess “fan” is the word I’m looking for.

The thing is, it really has nothing to do with the players themselves. Jimmy G and Butler didn’t leave of their volition. The Patriots traded one and benched the other before letting him walk to Tennessee to go play for Mike Vrabel for huge money. Just like they let Nate Solder sign one of the richest offensive tackle deals ever with the Giants. Then this happened:

… and apparently in New York Giants fans are already turning on him. Like with Garoppolo and Butler, I loved Solder. I can’t begin to count the number of times I stuck up for him as a top 5-10 left tackle in the league from Pats fans and media who talked about him like he was an airport People Mover, carrying rushers directly to Brady (or Garoppolo). And that, in a nutshell, is the reason why seeing these these guys fail in Week 1 gave me a happy.

It’s not about the players. It’s about the people who want to see them do great things just to stick their success up the Patriots collective asses. Just as they did with Drew Bledsoe, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, Wes Welker, Chandler Jones and a dozen other veterans Bill Belichick decided to move on from. A brief history lesson: When the Pats released Lawyer Milloy in 2003, it was the Granddaddy of All Shocking Personnel Moves. The beat writer from The Boston Herald called Belichick “duplicitous pond scum” for it. (Nothing personal, though.) Tom Jackson went on ESPN and said the players “hate their coach.” And all that followed were the two most successful back-to-back seasons by any team in NFL history, 34-4 with two championships.

Those are the people I love watching suffer at times like this. Patriots haters. The rest of the country. The media guys who screamed at me that taking Garoppolo in the 2nd round was “a wasted pick,” but then four years later treated the trade to San Fran like an Extinction Level Event. (Not long ago, Tony Mazz on The Sports Hub casually, unironically and without qualifying it, called Jimmy G “the next Joe Montana.” After he’d started seven games and finished six of them.) The guys who can’t shut up about Butler’s benching and think he can’t possibly be replaced. The ones who didn’t trust Solder at all to protect Brady. Until he left in free agency. Then he became his generation’s Orlando Pace.

It’s about vindication that Belichick made the right move … (wait for it) … in the best interest of the team. To put it differently, imagine for a hot second what the reaction would be today if Tom Brady threw 3 INTs and a Pick-6 and Garoppolo was the one with the 277 yards and 3 touchdowns? We’d never hear the end of the know-it-alls clapping about how they were right and TB12 has finally hit the “cliff.” Yes, Butler had an interception in the end zone, but so did his replacement Eric Rowe. It was just ripped out of his hands by Stephon Gilmore. But if Rowe had also given up a 75-yard piss rocket, he’d have been booed out of Gillette. And Solder’s replacement Trent Brown played basically a flawless game against one of the most talented, versatile Front-7s in football. If Solder kept Manning clean and Brown almost got Brady killed, it would be The Purge around here.

I concede that it’s a miniscule sample size and every guy the Patriots let go this year might make All Pro. I’m just pointing out that when I’m happy they fail, I’m not happy they failed as much as I’m happy the people who root for the Patriots to fail have failed. And I don’t apologize for it. It’s one of the many pleasures of being a Patriots fan. We’ve had a lot of it over the years and it just never gets old. So don’t judge me.