Give me the Fedora-topped suit over the sleeveless hoodie. And, despite last weekend's re-writing of the NFL record book for playoff coaching wins, give me Tom Landry over Bill Belicheat.
Why? Because cheaters never win and winners never cheat.
Unless, that is, you root for - or coach - a team called the New England Deflatriots.
While Cowboys fans – I’m certainly guilty – are still grousing about how they were cheated by the referees in Green Bay, the NFL’s dirtiest franchise prepares for yet another Super Bowl amidst another round of cheating allegations. The Patriots, who were once convicted of illegally spying on opponents, are now bending the rules – or perhaps breaking them – with all these “eligible receiver” shenanigans and allegations of purposefully deflating footballs to make them easier to throw and catch.
If you’re a Patriots fan, the rest of us are whiners. But to the rest of the common, decent, law-abiding sports world, the Patriots aren’t winners.
Or are they?
Cheating, after all, is about as American as apple pie, blue jeans and the Cowboys. No?
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Your taxes. Your spouse. Your diet. Your résumé. Your handicap.
Chances are you've cheated on one of them.
If not, how about the time you scurried across the street instead of using the crosswalk? That day you sneaked 12 items through the 10-or-fewer grocery line? The iPod music pirated off the Internet? The MENSA test answers impatiently pilfered from the back of the airplane magazine? The 79 mph drive home in the 65 zone? Alone, in the HOV lane, with beer open and seat belt unfastened? Shoot, even the old TV show Cheaters was staged and fake. Yep, Cheaters cheated.
It's OK, we reason and shrug. Because we’re living, breathing, cheating humans hard-wired with an insatiable hunger to get ahead and stay there. Cutting corners is ingrained in our society. If you’re not first – the American saying goes – you’re last.
Cheating is why our prisons are full and our presidents are full of crap.
Lance Armstrong cheated and won. Barry Bonds cheated and won. SMU’s football cheated and won. Rosie Ruiz cheated in the New York Marathon and won. Tommy Lewis cheated in the Cotton Bowl and won. Tiger Woods cheated and won. Sure, they all were eventually caught and forced to apologize. But to them, they’d do it all over again. Since cheaters inherently desire instant gratification, the negative after-effects are just a price they’re willing to pay.
They initially got what they wanted, and so do the Patriots.
Here's the problem. Cheating is wrong. You know it. I know it. And Belicheat knows it.
But just know this, Bill. No matter how many Super Bowls you play in and despite your 21 playoff wins now topping Landry's 20, your legacy will always be tarnished as a cheater. To gain a competitive edge, Landry designed the Flex Defense and implemented the shotgun snap. To gain a competitive advantage, you spied on opponents and sent offensive linemen out for passes after stealthy, confusing substitutions.
Don't ever confuse "winningest" with "classiest."
Why? Because, at their core, all cheaters are also chicken. Afraid they won't win within the rules, so they find ways to play outside of them.
American mindset be damned, some of us would rather lose fair and square than be forced to cheat to win. Right, Saint Tom?
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.