The average member of society can usually be divided into one of three categories: functional, dysfunctional and the reason we can't have nice things.
In the midst of the latest developments in the seemingly never-ending "Bountygate" saga, Brees took to Twitter to showcase his stupidity in slightly fewer than 140 characters:
If NFL fans were told there were "weapons of mass destruction" enough times, they'd believe it. But what happens when you don't find any????— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) June 19, 2012
This analogy is why we can't have nice things.
(Or at least why every pro athlete should consider simply having his or her public-relations manager run his or her Twitter account.)
Presumably, Brees was aiming for a comparison between the lack of a documented, publicly visible smoking gun that links Saints players to bounty allegations and former President George W. Bush's infamous assertion that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. This precipitated the go-ahead to declare war on Iraq even without hard evidence serving as the basis for this decision.
Also, Brees presumably was drawing a parallel between a president who was almost assassinated by a pretzel and the current commissioner of the National Football League.
Now, to be fair, Brees—even in his clunky reasoning skills—does point toward one entirely evident truth: The NFL needs to embrace transparency—or at least have the nerve to look it in the eye at the next junior-high mixer.
Why actively create conspiracies that aren't there?
In a way, it's akin to the same headache the NBA is experiencing in trying to convince the tinfoil crowd that the NBA draft lottery is not rigged, despite closing all doors to the process itself.
Note to both pro leagues in that example: Don't create smoke where there is no fire, tempting as it may be to celebrate absolute power one Cohiba puff at a time. Both NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA commissioner David Stern do, in fact, need to learn that transparency matters in the year 2012, and without it, you manufacture brand erosion where it need not exist.
So, yes, in that sense, Brees is correct. The lack of complete transparency from the NFL is more than a bit frustrating, though the league did at least reveal some damning facts in a presentation to a select group of reporters—though not nearly as much as the Saints and embattled former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams revealed themselves.
In just about every other sense, though, Brees' analogy is about as sensible as signing a painter to an NFL roster spot.
Let's run through a quick checklist of areas where Brees' comparison falters.
It's embarrassing, really, that Brees would dare draw the comparison between these two items.
And no, it's not oversensitive to say so.
It's what we should be saying when so little context is demonstrated in making tenuous connections to gain the approval—I suppose—of the general public.
There is a huge difference between WMDs and Bountygate—a difference measured in lives and innocence lost, cities destroyed and families shattered. To suggest a parallel between the two suggests an overinflated sense of Bountygate's real-world importance and a disconnect between NFL players and reality.
And the last thing we need is more evidence that athletes aren't living in the same world as the rest of us.
Did Brees mean anything malicious? I highly doubt it. (Update: He apologized in a later tweet and explained he did not mean to offend, in the loose sense that apologizing if you offended someone can be construed as an apology. Even though it isn't. At all.) His track record speaks for itself. On the field, he may be a stone-cold surgeon, but off the field, you won't find a better man in the NFL.
Was it still an incredibly stupid choice of words? Without a doubt. When you really start doing the math, it's hard to imagine any poorer combination of words that doesn't include profanities or racial epithets.
In the end, this tweet will largely be forgotten, and whatever percentage of the population that is legitimately upset with Brees will forgive him by sunrise tomorrow.
But for today, and maybe just today, Brees—and his faulty, reality-butchering perspective—is the reason we can't have nice things.