clock menu more-arrow no yes

Watch: Ben Affleck’s angry Deflategate NFL rant is absolutely riveting

There are two things in this world that Ben Affleck will not stand for.

The first is professional football players from organizations like "the fucking Jets and the fucking Broncos" who’ve ever been on the receiving end of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s touchdowns and now want to "hang" Brady.

The second: anyone who attempts to put Brady — who Affleck says is the greatest player in the NFL — through a mill of humiliation and shame.

I do not know Affleck, nor have I ever spoken to him, but I know these tenets of his person because he unleashed them in a boisterous, scattered, angry rant on the debut episode of sports commentator Bill Simmons’s new HBO Show, Any Given Wednesday.

"This is a conspiracy of people working inside the NFL who all come from organizations that Tom Brady whipped their ass over the last 10 and 15 years," Affleck told Simmons (and the studio audience) when asked about the Deflategate scandal that dominated sports headlines earlier this year, in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50. "There’s guys who worked for the fucking Jets, fucking Broncos, and everybody else, who are now going, ‘Yeah, hang him!’"

Affleck’s candor is a bit disarming — find me a situation that doesn’t get uncomfortable when someone starts talking about hanging people — but his bluntness is probably exactly what Simmons was hoping to achieve with his new show. Prior to Wednesday’s series premiere, the marketing and promotion for Any Given Wednesday featured Simmons promising to tell us things — edgy, controversial things — that we wouldn’t hear on ESPN, his previous employer.

And, well, Ben Affleck sporting a throbbing football erection for Tom Brady sure was something. (I maintain that it would be nice if someone talked about me the way Ben Affleck talks about Tom Brady.)

But Affleck’s true simmering anger here is rooted in what he believes is a lack of integrity in America’s most popular sport. And he does have a point — the way the NFL handles its domestic violence problem isn’t good, and who knows what will happen to professional football when we learn more about CTE and brain damage in its players.

The problem is that Affleck seems to view the organization solely through the lens of how the NFL’s faults might harm Brady, who’s clearly one of his greatest heroes.

"We haven’t done anything to address this crisis in domestic violence in the NFL, but the fucking football better not be 8 percent lighter," Affleck said. "And if we find out it is, you’re gone for four games!"

He’s right. The NFL needs to figure out how it handles domestic abuse. But that’s not really the point he’s making.

The NFL season starts on September 8.


Watch: The NFL's concussion crisis, explained

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.