During the Wednesday night premiere of Bill Simmons’s new HBO talk show Any Given Wednesday, Ben Affleck, the Oscar-winning filmmaker/actor and noted Bostonian, one-upped his showdown with Bill Maher by delivering an expletive-laden rant defending his hometown New England Patriots against the NFL’s “Deflategate” witch-hunt—one that resulted in a four-game suspension for their legendary quarterback/Uggs spokesmodel Tom Brady.
Affleck channeled his inner Bahstin sports fan in calling Deflategate “the ultimate bullshit fucking outrage of sports ever” in a five-minute rant aimed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league. He later joked about the episode on Twitter, writing, “For those of you keeping score at home, I gave exactly 18 f*cks about my Pats. Upon reflection, 12 probably would have been sufficient.”Well played, Affleck. You were also the bomb in Phantoms.
Coincidentally, I had an interview scheduled with the Pats’ star tight end Rob Gronkowski—aka “Gronk”—on Thursday, who spoke of his pleasure at seeing the viral Affleck clip.
“I actually just saw it a little bit ago,” Gronk told The Daily Beast. “It’s cool to see him sticking up for Tom.”When I asked him if he thought Brady “got a raw deal” by getting served with a four-game suspension, Gronk replied, “Yeah, I feel the same as basically everyone else. It’s definitely just stupidity now and it never should’ve even been a problem from the beginning.”So does he think the NFL has it out for the Pats? “I couldn’t tell ya,” he said. “I’m not up in the front office or anything, I just control what I can control: playin’ ball, and playin’ the best I can play.”
Speaking of viral clips, the occasion of our interview was Gronk’s new Nickelodeon series Crashletes, premiering on the kids’ channel later this year. It’s a blooper series a la America’s Funniest Home Videos, presenting viral blooper videos of people doing very silly things. Gronk serves as the show’s master of ceremonies, cracking jokes and setting up the fun clips—and the fun-loving footballer is, quite predictably, a natural at it.
Calling it his “biggest gig in entertainment so far,” Gronk said that the opportunity was brought to him by his friends, and fit perfectly into his offseason schedule. But the gig also calls for Gronk to engage in the occasional bit of buffoonery, and when I ask him about his own close calls injury-wise, he mentions an incident that happened today on the set of the Nick show.
“Oh, man! It happened today,” said Gronk. “We were at the Crashletes set and I jumped off the trampoline and dunked the ball, and it was a close call—landed on my knees. It was a close call. That’s what happens when I’m on the set of Crashletes, we do crazy things. I’m doing OK. Good thing there was a little padding underneath us.”
Millions of Pats’ fans just breathed a huge sigh of relief.