The Dallas Cowboys-Detroit Lions NFL playoff game last weekend brought out the worst in officiating (videos, below). Some people, especially in the New York-Philadelphia region, fans largely of the East Rutherford, New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, appear shocked to have learned that Chris Christie is a jerk. Shocked! shocked! to find out that gambling is going on in here.
But in reality, Christie's move (video below), while the governor was sitting next to Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was fairly gruesome. However, although he eventually acknowledged "if you`re thinking of who you want to hand the nuclear football to," it's reasonable to consider the scene, MSNBC's Chris Hayes misunderstands the nature of Chris Christie's obsession with the Cowboys.
Here is how it transpired- or as public figures are fond of saying these days- "went down"- on Up with Chris Hayes Monday evening:
HAYES: All right. In light of all the grief that Chris Christie is getting for his unapologetic love for the Dallas Cowboys, I`m going to present the rules of sports fandom, next.
HAYES: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you may have seen that image because he`s getting a lot of flak for his performance at last night`s wild card game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. After the deciding play that sealed the Cowboys` victory, the camera captured this moment in the box of team owner Jerry Jones.
Now much ridicule has been directed at Christie for the awkward-missed high-five and the orange sweater, seen here, which has apparently been his good luck charm that he`s worn to every one of the last five Cowboys games he`s attended, all of which the team has won.
Well, as well as the questionable ethics of accept lucrative gifts from Jerry Jones, who is a whole other story.
But I will say this, the most scurrilous, unfair charge from which I stand here today to defend Chris Christie is for being a traitor for rooting for the Dallas Cowboys as opposed to the Jets or Giants who, of course, play in his native New Jersey.
A little over a year ago, Christie himself explained his Cowboy`s fandom this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: My father was a Giant`s fan. And I used to remember watching them when I was 8, 9 years old. And every Sunday he`d watch the Giants and yell at the TV set. And I used to think to myself why do I want to root for a team that makes you angry? So, I decided not to and the Cowboys were really good back then and I liked Roger Staubach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To which I say amen.
And to Chris Christie`s haters, back off. These are the rules of sports fandom. It is not a betrayal to not root for your hometown team. For instance, yours truly was raised in the Bronx, not very far from Yankees stadium. And I am a Cubs, Bulls and Bears fan because my father from the north side of Chicago raised me as such. I`ve been that way my whole life.
There is no shame in rooting for teams outside of your hometown.
But here is the other part of this rule, once you choose in childhood, you cannot change or deviate. That`s the other part of the rule. You must suffer, as I have. Of course, the Cubs are perhaps the most finely engineered machine for producing human misery ever known to man.
And, Chris Christie, well, he`s suffered, too. Perhaps no team in the NFL have created more heartache and disappointment for fans as the Cowboys have in recent years, a team that has a knack for always being tantalizingly close to possible excellence only to revert to mediocrity when it counts.
Christie has said so himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I`ve been a Cowboys fan the whole time. And when the Cowboys are losing the last game of the year the last three season not to make the playoffs, there`s nobody getting on social media giving me a hard time about being a Cowboys fan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now if Christie had suddenly abandoned the Cowboys to root for the Giants in the years they were Super Bowl champs well, then, you could hurl all the invective you wanted.
But all the available evidence shows that not to be the case.
So, to Chris Christie`s haters on this point, back off. I firmly and proudly stand with Chris Christie.
And also at least in general spirit, though not int specific word choice, his brother, Todd, who somewhat questionably took to Facebook to say, quote, "all of those non-Cowboys fans who have have their panties in a ringer because the governor of New Jersey is a Cowboys fan, get a life,"
Now, that`s as far as the fandom concerns go. However, I will also say this, if you`re thinking of who you want to hand the nuclear football to, I think it`s totally fair and reasonable to take this scene into account.]
Obviously, high-fiving the owner of a team which is about to win a playoff game, in a scene which he knew would be shown on television and probably replayed repeatedly, is the sports equivalent of Christie's entire in-your-face approach to politics. But that's too easy.
So, too, is it obvious that unlike the Hayes' family, Chris Christie has not chosen to root for the hometown team. Hayes states "yours truly was raised in the Bronx, not very far from Yankees stadium. And I am a Cubs, Bulls and Bears fan because my father from the north side of Chicago raised me as such. I've been that way my whole life."
There is no indication the father of Chris Christie, Wilbur James Christie, was born, or ever lived, in Texas. Chris himself was born in Newark, NJ and his family reportedly moved to the tony suburb of Livingston, NJ "after the Newark riots," which occurred five years after the future governor was born. And even if the governor's father had Texas, or pro-Cowboy roots (which Chris would tout were it the case), that would not be the basis of the son's passion for the Dallas Cowboys.
It even might have turned Chris Christie from the Cowboys. In delivering the keynote speech (a little Romney, a lot of Christie), the governor admitted
I am the son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother. My Dad, who I am blessed to have with me here tonight, is gregarious, outgoing and loveable.
My Mom, who I lost eight years ago, was the enforcer. She made sure we all knew who set the rules.
In the automobile of life, Dad was just a passenger. Mom was the driver.
After four sentences about his father, Chris continued
I am her son.
I was her son as I listened to "Darkness on the Edge of Town" with my high school friends on the Jersey Shore.
I was her son as I moved into a studio apartment with Mary Pat to start a marriage that is now 26 years old.
I was her son as I coached our sons Andrew and Patrick on the fields of Mendham, and as I watched with pride as our daughters Sarah and Bridget marched with their soccer teams in the Labor Day parade.
And I am still her son today, as governor, following the rules she taught me: to speak from the heart and to fight for your principles. She never thought you get extra credit for just speaking the truth.
The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.
Now, of course, she was talking about women.
Those were Chris Christie's remarks about his mother, and about his father whom he sees as having been along for the ride.
In June of 2013, he told a group of New Jersey students
I was a big fan when I was your age. I was a big fan of Roger Staubach, who was the quarterback for the Cowboys back then. The Giants and the Jets pretty much stunk when I was a kid and my father was a Giants fan. I used to remember watching him when I was eight, nine years old and every Sunday he would watch the Giants and yell at the TV set. I used to think to myself, 'Why would I want to root for a team that makes you angry?'
Chris Christie doesn't want to root for a team that would make him angry. After all, why would Chris Christie ever want to be angry?
Chris Christie is a mother's boy. Of course, that is insignificant, especially compared to being a terrible governor and person. He also is a fanboy, who hasn't grown out of his childhood fascination with a team nearly 1600 miles from his home base. "I was a big fan when I was your age," he told those students- elementary school students. His announcement "elicited many boos in the gym" in which he was speaking, demonstrating that even at their age, they were more grown up than their governor.