Say goodbye to royalty as we know it
When Gisele Bundchen launched into a Tommy-Can’t-Throw-AND-Catch-It huff on her way out of the Super Bowl, it was, of course, quite unbecoming.
All that was really necessary to respond to a heckler was a dismissive look, and perhaps a flip of the hair, which would have said it all: I’m Gisele and you’re not.
Instead, everyone’s favorite supermodel became as catty as the wife next door, and in the process explained why she and Tom Brady are such a perfect match.
Now, unlike the missus, Brady was the model of comportment afterward, crediting the Giants and defending his teammates — particularly Wes Welker — even if he did little to hide the biting disappointment of being foiled by the Giants at the end of a Super Bowl once again.
But what the Bradys did so well Sunday was remind us that, despite their good looks, glamorous lives, great fortune and an air of specialness around them, they aren’t really that far above the mean, er, the mean.
When it mattered most, Brady looked like just another quarterback — making some plays, missing others and ultimately being unable to lift his teammates when they needed to be carried.
What is worth noting is that Brady isn’t the only one losing his shine lately. It’s not been such a good year for the One Percent in the world of sports, with the aristocrats increasingly indistinguishable from the hoi polloi.
Bill Belichick may still be the smartest guy in the room, but he is not smart enough to outwit a survivor like Tom Coughlin (hasn’t he been fired yet?) or to overcome his team’s own shortcomings. And for those scoring at home, Belichick has not won a title and is a .500 playoff coach since Spygate — and perhaps the Patriots’ edge — was revealed.
This trend can be traced back to last spring, when as the NBA playoffs got under way, we were told to disregard the two-time defending champion Lakers’ sleep walk through the first half of the season and their limp to the finish. They were the team everyone feared — the one with the NBA’s most cold-blooded closer, Kobe Bryant, and the coach, Phil Jackson, who had long since returned from the mountain top with all the answers.
It took once-fragile Dallas a mere four games to poke holes in those myths.
Now, the Lakers are old, slow and the second-most interesting team in their own building, in the words of Bryant, who is looking like a latter day Dominique Wilkins — scoring anytime he wants, except when it matters most.
Such a dramatic, unexpected unraveling also occurred last September in Boston. The Red Sox appeared geared for a third World Series title in eight years, but instead imploded amid a flurry of fried chicken-and-beer fueled dysfunction that seemed to be right out of a Steinbrenner playbook.
Terry Francona, who had deftly managed baseball’s most volatile ingredients (Manny Ramirez, Greater New England’s angst) looked asleep at the wheel. He was soon gone, as was the architect of the Red Sox transformation, Theo Epstein, who often outfoxed the Yankees if he could not outspend them.
The Yankees at least managed to make the playoffs again, but fell short of the World Series for the second year in a row. And over the winter they identified Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda as their missing links, leaving it to Detroit and Anaheim to make the all-in, empty-the-vault deals for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols that once appeared to be the Yankees’ domain.
Another realm that isn’t quite what it used to be is Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Long the most daunting homecourt advantage in college basketball, the Cameron Crazies’ 1,200-seat student section is now typically little more than half-filled with students. As if to acknowledge that, Duke had a 34-game home winning streak snapped last month and then lost Sunday to unheralded Miami.
That defeat, sealed when Duke missed all six of its free throw attempts in overtime, came a few hours before the kickoff to Super Bowl XLVI. It might have served as a sign of what was to come — and what has come to pass.
Royalty in sports?
Nowadays, it’s just another pretty face.