Bill Simmons: Good Luck With Your Life.

ernieshore

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I enjoyed it too and totally agree on the point about why it meant so much. 
 
I was at the game (yes - I'm going to annoyingly say that as much as I can) and, a little while after the end, as I was looking at the celebrations on the field and saying for probably the 30th time, "I can't f---ing believe it!" my wife said, "I am so happy for you."
 
I replied, "Yeah - but I'm happy for them. Belichick and Brady are the BEST EVER and they constantly get shit on by everyone. I'm happy for what it means for them, and for the rest of this team that never, ever quit." 
 
(I want to post more later in the game thread on my experience, but I just finally got it front of a computer - and my head is still spinning) 
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I haven't read an entire Simmons column in a while but the Super Bowl was Atlee Hammaker, Simmons was Fred Lynn at the 83 All Star Game.

On a related note, I wish there were more people named Atlee Hammaker.
 

bankshot1

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This isn't 1999-BSG, or maybe it is and we've changed, but he still has a half-decent fastball and the voice of a fan, albeit a snarky fan.
With Edelman slow to get up, Al Michaels reminds us that Edelman is being “bothered by a hip.” Or a concussion. It’s one or the other. Just never forget: Michaels was the first announcer to save words on injury descriptions by only saying the body part itself. Had he been announcing the last scene of the “Red Wedding,” he would have said that Catelyn Stark was “out with a throat.”
 
 
I laughed.
 
I thought it was a good read.
 

cheekydave

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Been reading him since Digital days. Thought this was a great read. Never really got why it was once so cool to like him, and then it became cool to not like him.
 
Different strokes I guess.
 

DrewDawg

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cheekydave said:
Been reading him since Digital days. Thought this was a great read. Never really got why it was once so cool to like him, and then it became cool to not like him.
 
 
 
Because his writing and POV have changed.
 

Dummy Hoy

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DrewDawg said:
 
Because his writing and POV have changed.
I actually think the problem is that they've stayed the same. Most of us have grown intellectually and emotionally in the last 10-15 years, I'm not so sure Simmons has.
 

HomeBrew1901

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I don't know. I didn't read him Pre-ESPN but I did before he went to LA and I get the criticism.

To me, a 40 year old fan that remembers decades of 1918 chants and listening to the blacked out Patriots on the radio, that article was pitch perfect. So much so that I printed it out and showed guys I worked with here in PA to describe what we went through during the last 2 minutes of that game.

I mean, Holy shit, I still get chills and can't believe that really happened.
 

nattysez

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This observation from Wright Thompson about our friend Bill is pretty surprising to me.  
 
Everybody always wants to know, how do you get the job you want. And I think it’s pretty simple, actually. It’s outwork the guy next to you. The hardest working guy at ESPN is Bill Simmons. Without question. I’m not Bill’s target audience; I think Bill’s a very, very good writer. But I’m not his audience.
Every single person who knows him has profound respect for his work ethic. I mean that guy’s a grinder. So you look at the difference between the people who are doing the cool things that everyone wants to be doing and those who aren’t.
You look under the covers enough and you’re going to find a grinder. You look at people on TV: Jeremy Schaap. Grinder. Tom Rinaldi: Grinder. Peter King: Grinder. Chris Jones: Grinder.
You show me the people who you want to be like, and they’re all totally different except for the fact that all of them work their asses off. Everybody. That’s it.
 
 

ifmanis5

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The only thing King is grinding is concentration camp stones under his extra wide Midtown shoes.
 
The Simmons diary was fun. Nice Jeff Cesario callout, decent take down of Collinsworth (who really was a total fucking dick the whole game) and a passionate defense of BB at the end of the game. Good times all around.
 

luckiestman

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ifmanis5 said:
The only thing King is grinding is concentration camp stones under his extra wide Midtown shoes.
 
The Simmons diary was fun. Nice Jeff Cesario callout, decent take down of Collinsworth (who really was a total fucking dick the whole game) and a passionate defense of BB at the end of the game. Good times all around.
 
 
The slight irony to this Collisworth thing is that fawned over Collinsworth in a recent podcast with Al Michaels.
 

crystalline

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DrewDawg said:
 
I'm not begrudging him in the least, but that pic shows why it's hard for him to write as a typical Boston sports fan these days.
Really? I think this picture shows why Simmons is still a fan. Nearly everyone else in sports media is trying to think of the best story line to draw ratings. Peter king is probably sitting around with Goodell rooting not for a team but for the best story.

And Simmons gets together with a bunch of hardcore Pats fans to watch the game at someone's house and probably scream their faces off at the TV, criticize Collinsworth like the rest of us, rise and fall with the Kearse catch and give props to Belichick for not calling a timeout.

Sure his friends are Boston-raised celebrities in LA but they are hardcore Pats fan celebrities. If Simmons watched at some corporate party somewhere I wouldn't be surprised. But he got his serious fan pals together and watched at a party just like many of us here. Good for him.
 

nattysez

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Joe Sixpack said:
 
As soon as I saw "Peter King: Grinder" in that quote, that told me all I needed to know.
 
Well, say what you will about King, but the guy is however many years into the business and is still staying up into the wee Sunday night/Monday morning hours pumping out a column every week during the season.  The quality may no longer be there, but I can understand a respect for the work ethic.
 

Van Everyman

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Also, I enjoyed the piece as well, but since when is Al Michaels the originator of "out with a *body part*"? Simmons himself has been ascribing this to Nantz for about a thousand years.
 

joe dokes

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
I haven't read an entire Simmons column in a while but the Super Bowl was Atlee Hammaker, Simmons was Fred Lynn at the 83 All Star Game.

On a related note, I wish there were more people named Atlee Hammaker.
 
Gammons always referred to him as "Atlee Hammaker III", so maybe there are (or were). (FWIW, B-ref shows no such roman numerals.)
 
 
 
 
 
DrewDawg said:
 
Because his writing and POV have changed.
I actually think the problem is that they've stayed the same. Most of us have grown intellectually and emotionally in the last 10-15 years, I'm not so sure Simmons has.
 
 
That's my biggest reason for liking him so little now.
 

JimD

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I was ready to razz him for giving up tickets to the Super Bowl and hanging out with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck instead, but the more i though about it, the cooler that get-together sounds.
 

TheoShmeo

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Having been at the last SB in Glendale, I can easily relate to trepidation about going back.  That experience was obviously beyond awful and I also associated a lot of bad emotions and experiences with that building. 
 
That didn't stop me from going back to this game and I can't think of many people whose invitation to watch the game would have sounded better to me than making the trip.  That said, when I realized that Kearse had indeed caught that ball, one of the many angry/sefl-pitying/pissed off thoughts that flashed through my pounding head was "why did I put myself in this freaking hell hole yet again?"  
 

JohntheBaptist

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nattysez said:
 
Well, say what you will about King, but the guy is however many years into the business and is still staying up into the wee Sunday night/Monday morning hours pumping out a column every week during the season.  The quality may no longer be there, but I can understand a respect for the work ethic.
 
Yeah, King is such a dumb bastard the only way I can conceive that he's risen to where he's at is that no one wanted to work as hard as he does. A bit of the Peter Principle thing.
 
Personally, even though I'm not a fan, that's the thing I respect about Simmons the most--he made a living off writing through sheer will and good ideas once he got there.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Crystalline: Come. On. 
 
If you don't see how Simmons' credibility as the voice of the everyman is destroyed by watching the Super Bowl with Matt Damon, I don't know what to tell you. 
 
It's not like he grew up with those guys and, wow, isn't it great we're all famous now?!?!? He didn't, like, get together with the guys from the neighborhood.
 
The point of view of a bartender in Mass. putting together a blog and speaking for the common person in Boston is just completely different from the point of view of a famous celebrity living in Los Angeles. And yet he still purports to speak for "us." That doesn't make him "worse" as a writer, it just makes him a bit intellectually dishonest when he acts like the way he experiences things is the same as a guy who drives a plow truck in Gloucester. 
 
One of the reasons people are passionate about their sports teams is that it's a distraction, a voyeuristic way to experience something beyond themselves and their everyday grind of a life. When you buy season tickets, even when it's a big investment for you, it's partly because you want to feel that sense of belonging, that sense of being part of the team and having an investment in it and being able to say, with a little bit of a straight face, "we just won the fucking super bowl!" It's a way to take part in celebrity and accomplishment, even if it's just a tiny slice, so you can be fired up when you go back to your cube or your gig at the dump or whatever. 
 
Bill gets to hang out with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and fly around the country to any game he wants to and get the best seats and have Super Bowl tickets handed to him that he ends up not actually wanting or using. That's just different. That's not the Boston Sports Guy. That's the famous guy who lives in LA and loves and fondly recalls his time in New England and still roots for those teams and wants to comment on them. 
 
That, necessarily, has to make him less in touch with the common fan and, necessarily, a different writer than the one he was 15 years ago. 
 
I'm not slamming him for that. I admire the fuck out of his accomplishments. But if you're going to sit there and argue that he's the same guy and he still gets what it's like to be a fan in New England, that's crazy talk. 
 

kenneycb

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Why does the common fan have to be a blue collar guy that works on the docks for 12 hours a day and plows the streets for some extra money in his free time?  I don't care about your life outside of sports.  I care if you're knowledgeable, sensible and passionate about the teams you follow.  That makes you a true fan.  Not where you live, who you interact with, what you do for a living or how successful you are in making a living.  Who gives a shit if he hangs out with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  They actually seem like fairly knowledgeable people about Boston sports, probably not SoSH level, but probably not Sully from Southie that calls into D&C every morning either.
 
The whole not getting the pulse of the area has also been largely mitigated by the Internet.  
 

JohntheBaptist

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Yeah, I don't know that I've ever gotten that common fan thing either, honestly. He never presented himself as "the common fan," he presented himself as "anti-establishment." He could communicate with you more directly because he wasn't part of the newspaper infrastructure, wasn't some old entrenched hack, and was young enough to speak many internet users' language. It was so fresh and so popular because it spoke to something bubbling up as he arrived--sports fans frustration with conventional sportswriting and a rejection of the newspaper approach by the internet in general.
 
I really don't think he's changed much--I think he had a very distinct style that people just get tired of, and when the pleasure gained from the style wore off, his warts as someone breaking down his subject popped up. "Not evolving" could be part of it, but I think as a writer he doesn't have a shelf life for many just because he is what he is--and that's why it was smart of him to so proactively branch out into other ventures. I mean, has Bob Ryan (just an example) "evolved"? I'm asking honestly what people think--I think Ryan has survived in readability because he's better at analyzing events, is a better writer and has a style that is sort of evergreen.
 

ifmanis5

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I have no problem with him hanging with Matt & Ben watching the game. Why shouldn't he be doing that? And where should he be instead? Down at the docks chugging PBR?
 

joe dokes

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mean, has Bob Ryan (just an example) "evolved"? I'm asking honestly what people think--I think Ryan has survived in readability because he's better at analyzing events, is a better writer and has a style that is sort of evergreen.
 
 
I dont know about "evolving," but Ryan exhibits (or did) both fandom and an intellectual curiosity about sports. As ther sports world changes, it's only that curiosity that keep a writer fresh and relevant.  That's one of the reasons that he liked covering -- and was great at it -- the olympics.
 

The Social Chair

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Simmons has been watching football at Jimmy Kimmel's house for over a decade. A few years back on his podcast he mentioned Tom Cruise showing up.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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He never presented himself as "the common fan," he presented himself as "anti-establishment." He could communicate with you more directly because he wasn't part of the newspaper infrastructure, wasn't some old entrenched hack, and was young enough to speak many internet users' language. It was so fresh and so popular because it spoke to something bubbling up as he arrived--sports fans frustration with conventional sportswriting and a rejection of the newspaper approach by the internet in general.
 
 
The bolded is very wrong. Flat-out wrong. In the beginning, Simmons presented himself as the regular guy, the guy who watched the games with his buddies and made funny jokes as the action unfolded. He was the guy that lived and died with his team, got pissed at EEI and Shaughnessy when they blew things out of proportion but also hated Jimy Williams and Pete Carroll with a passion. Bill Simmons chose the name "The Boston Sports Guy" for a reason. 
 
I have no problem with Simmons moving to LA and doing what he's doing (not that he needs my permission) but his writing style hasn't really evolved to keep up with how his lifestyle has changed. It's like he's trying to be the regular dude at his friend Jimmy's place (and seriously, he should drop the facade, everyone knows it's Jimmy Kimmel, it's okay to say it) eating wings and drinking Buds. It's intellectually dishonest. It might be a more interesting if he embraced his fortune, hell he's worked hard for it, he can revel in it. 
 
The fact is, he's not the Boston Sports Guy anymore and I don't think anyone needs him to be. Just like no one needs Ice Cube to rap about how hard life is, when we know he's living in a mansion surrounded by millions of dollars worth of porcelain dolls. You know why the new Terminator movie looks ridiculous? Because Arnold is almost 70-years-old and he's trying to convince us that he can still be the Terminator. 
 
One of the first rules of writing is to be honest, and Simmons should be honest. Otherwise he's just a hack.
 

Clears Cleaver

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He is the only major columnist that I know who has his high school and college buddies as regular contributors to his columns, podcasts, etc. And his dad is pretty close to an everyman fan as a retired doctor with 40 years worth of season tickets can be
 

JohntheBaptist

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
The bolded is very wrong. Flat-out wrong. In the beginning, Simmons presented himself as the regular guy, the guy who watched the games with his buddies and made funny jokes as the action unfolded. He was the guy that lived and died with his team, got pissed at EEI and Shaughnessy when they blew things out of proportion but also hated Jimy Williams and Pete Carroll with a passion. Bill Simmons chose the name "The Boston Sports Guy" for a reason. 
 
Yeah, I can see this--I guess I just meant that, from what I was reading, nothing about his persona was changed by being rich and successful. It wasn't dependent on being working-class or "regular guy," it was "I'm not them (Globe, Herald, etc), and I speak your language." Maybe we're seeing the same thing, honestly. The difference comes into play with things like this--being successful and wealthy and schmoozing in LA does not mean he couldn't be the Boston Sports Guy anymore. Dinging him for not being a guy that plows streets in Brighton is not getting at what's turning people off about him. Sportswriting on the internet has basically been created in large part in his image, and that tension where he still wants to be outsider-y when he is the ultimate insider is what strikes one as dishonest and hack-y.
 
I'm drawing a distinction between "I'm a regular fan" and "I'm not the old guard of sportswriting." It's close to being semantics but I think it's the latter.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I do see what you're saying and you're right, Simmons was definitely a vanguard of a new type of sportswriting. I'm not sure if you remember but the main-stream media was terrified of Simmons when he blew up. And the reason was, he felt (correctly, BTW) that sportswriting should be stripped of its pretensions. Whether it was Glenn Ordway or Shaughnessy or Upton Bell, the argument was that "Simmons didn't go into the locker room and he didn't know the players. He just watches the games from his couch."
 
Aside from the fact that Bell or Ordway were rarely in the locker rooms, the old guard completely missed the point. Sports isn't rocket science. Most of us have played these games at one point in our lives, so we know the rules and the basic gist of what happens. Athletes say nothing in their press conferences and when they do say something, it's usually blown up to the point of silliness. Simmons was able to cut through all that crap and write honestly and with a lot of (contemporary) humor. And a young, internet-savvy public latched on to that. Old-timey sportswriting was on the way out the door. 
 
Now, Simmons is kind of in that Ordway, Bell, CHB category in terms of writing. He's got so many projects (both at work and home) going, he doesn't have time to really analyze the games. He just half-asses everything and goes back to the what he thinks that people think. 
 
And I agree, he doesn't need to drive a snow plow or be a bartender or an office temp, but if you're going to be the "voice of the fan", I think that you need to go to a party where the fans aren't Matt Damon or Ben Affleck. And yes, they have their POVs and their valid, but they aren't his audience. Or, fuck, write about them. That's way more interesting than taking a stab at what Johnny UMass thinks about Bill Belichick. I don't know, every once in awhile, he'll pull a great column out (like this one) but most of the time, he's flopping around like Fred Lynn at Anaheim Stadium. 
 

JohntheBaptist

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
And I agree, he doesn't need to drive a snow plow or be a bartender or an office temp, but if you're going to be the "voice of the fan", I think that you need to go to a party where the fans aren't Matt Damon or Ben Affleck. And yes, they have their POVs and their valid, but they aren't his audience. Or, fuck, write about them. That's way more interesting than taking a stab at what Johnny UMass thinks about Bill Belichick. I don't know, every once in awhile, he'll pull a great column out (like this one) but most of the time, he's flopping around like Fred Lynn at Anaheim Stadium. 
 
Well put. I didn't think of it that way--the schmoozing does draw him away from what he does best, and that definitely is on him.
 

joe dokes

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And I agree, he doesn't need to drive a snow plow or be a bartender or an office temp, but if you're going to be the "voice of the fan", I think that you need to go to a party where the fans aren't Matt Damon or Ben Affleck. And yes, they have their POVs and their valid, but they aren't his audience. Or, fuck, write about them. That's way more interesting than taking a stab at what Johnny UMass thinks about Bill Belichick. I don't know, every once in awhile, he'll pull a great column out (like this one) but most of the time, he's flopping around like Fred Lynn at Anaheim Stadium.
 
 
I don't immediately assume that Affleck (just to use the current example) is any less of a fan than anyone else just because of fame and fortune.  Some are bandwagoners and some aren't.  Just like us regular folk. I look at it this way:  if I were seated next to Affleck on a plane, we could probably talk Sox and Patriots for quite awhile and never talk about *him*. Isn't that what fandom is about; that commonality that's often in the face of little else in common?
 
He *should* take advantage of his new station in life. I trust that he knows who the "real fans" are among the celebs. I suppose he may not get invited back, but I think it would be kinda cool to know, for example, what brand of catheter Ben Affleck uses during games so he doesn't miss any live action or somesuch; or that Damon has the same stupid superstitions I do in when the need for a rally strikes.
 
If that's who Simmons is, then that's who he should be. He needn't apologize for it or run from it  (which I think is the source for his current staleness).  But it does take skill and care to write about.
 

kenneycb

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joe dokes said:
 
I don't immediately assume that Affleck (just to use the current example) is any less of a fan than anyone else just because of fame and fortune.  Some are bandwagoners and some aren't.  Just like us regular folk. I look at it this way:  if I were seated next to Affleck on a plane, we could probably talk Sox and Patriots for quite awhile and never talk about *him*. Isn't that what fandom is about; that commonality that's often in the face of little else in common?
 
He *should* take advantage of his new station in life. I trust that he knows who the "real fans" are among the celebs. I suppose he may not get invited back, but I think it would be kinda cool to know, for example, what brand of catheter Ben Affleck uses during games so he doesn't miss any live action or somesuch; or that Damon has the same stupid superstitions I do in when the need for a rally strikes.
 
If that's who Simmons is, then that's who he should be. He needn't apologize for it or run from it  (which I think is the source for his current staleness).  But it does take skill and care to write about.
It's a two-way street though.  Since they do have a degree of familiarity and they are huge celebrities, so they are obviously careful with the press they do, much preferring to just have a normal sports-watching experience with Jimmy and Matt as opposed to Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon.
 

ifmanis5

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If Bill wrote a column about how he watched the SB with Matt & Ben he'd get KILLED for it (both here and elsewhere) and he knows that, which is why he didn't.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I don't immediately assume that Affleck (just to use the current example) is any less of a fan than anyone else just because of fame and fortune.  Some are bandwagoners and some aren't.  Just like us regular folk. I look at it this way:  if I were seated next to Affleck on a plane, we could probably talk Sox and Patriots for quite awhile and never talk about *him*. Isn't that what fandom is about; that commonality that's often in the face of little else in common?
 
 
I'm not saying that Affleck isn't a "real fan" (your definition may be different than mine), in fact I'd say that Affleck is at a lot of Boston events, so he probably is. But either he should talk about it, acknowledge the elephant in the room (and this might be difficult, because it would be weird to write notes on how your friends are reacting to the game) or don't talk about it all. 
 
If he was an honest writer, it shouldn't matter whether he'd get "killed" or not. In some corners of the internet, Simmons gets killed for breathing too loud on a plane. I think that if he wants to be a better writer, he should embrace his new lot in life.
 

ifmanis5

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 I think that if he wants to be a better writer, he should embrace his new lot in life.
I agree with that.
 
Plus, I wouldn't kill him for hanging with Matt & Ben or writing about those experiences (in fact I think it would be pretty fascinating), but we all know how thin-skinned Bill is so he's not going to put himself through that process. Which is too bad because, as you say, he won't grow as a writer. He still wants to be thought of as an 'everyguy' even though that his not his real life anymore. I think that identity is more important to him than the quality of his writing. I think anyway, I'd love to ask him.
 

joe dokes

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
I'm not saying that Affleck isn't a "real fan" (your definition may be different than mine), in fact I'd say that Affleck is at a lot of Boston events, so he probably is. But either he should talk about it, acknowledge the elephant in the room (and this might be difficult, because it would be weird to write notes on how your friends are reacting to the game) or don't talk about it all. 
 
If he was an honest writer, it shouldn't matter whether he'd get "killed" or not. In some corners of the internet, Simmons gets killed for breathing too loud on a plane. I think that if he wants to be a better writer, he should embrace his new lot in life.

 
 
I think we are in heated agreement.
 

allstonite

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joe dokes said:
 
I think we are in heated agreement.
 
I sort of agree with you both. If he could pull it off, I wish he would take us behind the curtain of some of the stuff he gets to do because of his status. If he could approach it with the same "regular guy" enthusiasm as he used to with his Boston sports columns, it could be really interesting. Something about what it's like to watch a huge game with Damon and Affleck and their personalities. I just think he's past the point where he views himself as that regular guy but instead wants to be in those circles. And I'm in the camp of not holding any of it against him. He's certainly earned it. I just don't really enjoy his writing as much anymore as is.
 
Except for this article. I disagreed with him on almost everything leading up to the game, saw the picture of him at that party, rolled my eyes when I saw it was a "retro-diary" which I usually dislike as a device but I loved this article. It summed up everything I was feeling through the game much better than I could ever describe it. The point about wanting it more for Belichick and Brady and their legacy was great. I wish he could bring it like this more often
 

Reverend

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Some years back, a friend of mine was taking a graduate level course on Spanish for business and law or something highly specialized like that. She's an academic and not into pop culture and such. Anyway, there was this guy who was clearly out of his depth with the material and kept asking her questions during the lectures, but he was very nice and respectful about it so she didn't mind.
 
After a few weeks, some other women in the class asked if she knew him and how. Apparently, it was Matt Damon. He had gotten engaged to or married to a Latina bar tender and was trying to learn Spanish to talk to her family, so wherever he was filming, he would contact college Spanish departments and ask permission to sit in on whatever courses would fit his schedule, no matter what the material.
 
What I mean is, Matt Damon may be a movie star, but that doesn't mean he's not down to earth and a great sports fan. Simmons may or may not be a man of the people anymore, but watching with Matt Damon doesn't mean he's not--guy has his shit together.
 

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ifmanis5 said:
I have no problem with him hanging with Matt & Ben watching the game. Why shouldn't he be doing that? And where should he be instead? Down at the docks chugging PBR?
 
I don't think anyone has a problem with it. I think it does reflect a changing POV though. I'm not saying it's better or worse, just different.