The failing New York Times sports section fired off a funny tweet Wednesday after the New England Patriots wrapped up a visit to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win. It was a side-by-side comparison of the photo from this year's gathering, and the one taken the last time New England won a Super Bowl and they visited then-President Barack Obama's White House. It was similar to the photos that began circulating after Trump's Inauguration comparing the crowd there to Obama's in 2008, and just like in those inauguration photos, Obama's group of Patriots appeared to dwarf Trump's.
Several Patriots very publicly refused to partake in the festivities, well before they were even scheduled. Then Tom Brady ducked out at the last minute to spend time with his ailing mother. For a President who coats everything in gold, and slaps his name in ALL CAPS on just about everything he can, these were very embarrassing moments. It's no wonder, then, that Trump sent Sean Spicer out to the press corps to make a fool of himself saying that Trump's Inauguration was the biggest ever, "period," or that he personally called the Parks Department to harangue them into drumming up additional photos to show the "true" crowd size.
And it should likewise come as no surprise that at some time after the Times tweet, the New England Patriots Twitter account said it was time for some game theory. Apparently, the pictures had been taken out of context. They sent basically the same number of people in the previous two visits! The pictures are Fake News. In other words, the New England Patriots walked full steam ahead into another -gate: Picturegate. And it is glorious.
After this clarification, the Times updated the tweet, noting that 16 fewer players showed up, but this year's total attendance was comparable.
The single greatest part of any -gate, particularly the recent ones the Patriots have found themselves in, is how utterly inconsequential they are. Deflategate, or at least the level of hysteria it reached, was quite possibly the dumbest controversy in sports history. The only other controversy capable of unseating it would be about the size of the contingent the New England Patriots sent to the White House in celebration of their Super Bowl LI victory. I promise you, the Trump news cycle is such an unstoppable juggernaut of insanity that no one would have remembered this mildly amusing tweet from the New York Timesif the Patriots had not walked right into it and sent out "clarification" tweets.
I hesitate to say voluntarily, because as addressed above, our current president is not only the most powerful man in the free world but also the most petty. He is very good friends with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who actually spoke at the White House. Is it out of the realm of possibility that, like he did with the Parks Department, President Donald Trump called in a favor and asked someone to set the record straight about the embarrassing turnout?
The great thing about sports is that anything is possible, even those things which you couldn't dream up if you tried.