ESPN's Jason Whitlock asked a bunch of stupid questions about Robert Kraft, so I answered them. It's a good strategy when faced with dumb, rhetorical questions.

In his press conference following the announcement that the NFL plans to uphold Tom Brady's four game suspension, team owner Robert Kraft said: 

"The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me." 

Really? Unfathomable?

What country has Kraft been living in? What he and Brady and Patriots fans have experienced during the past six months — a rigged system of investigation and punishment — is what poor people, particularly those of color, endure daily.

When faced with stupid questions, I like to answer them. So, in order of appearance:

Really? - Yes, Mr. Whitlock. Really. While the plight of poor people in this country, particularly those of color, is unspeakably tragic and must be corrected, even wealthy football team owners can sometimes feel like they are being treated unfairly and be surprised by the treatment.

Unfathomable? - Yes, again, Mr. Whitlock. Even when one is wealthy, it is perfectly acceptable to expect one thing and experience complete disbelief when the opposite occurs. 

What country has Kraft been living in? - This one is easy. It's the United States, Mr. Whitlock. While Robert Kraft certainly travels quite a bit, he resides in the United States.

Massachusetts to be exact.

And even though it may surprise Mr. Whitlock, I suspect that Kraft is fully aware of the recent events in our country as they pertain to the criminal justice system's deplorable treatment of the poor and those of color.

Here's a question of my own:

How did you expect Robert Kraft to respond? Did you expect him to receive the news of the upholding of the suspension from the commissioner of the NFL and think:

"This is not unfathomable at all. Yes, I fully expected the suspension to be lifted or at least reduced. but in light of the recent events in places like Ferguson and the tragedy of Sandra Bland and others, I should've expected to be treated unfairly, even though this ruling has no relation whatsoever to the American criminal justice system and is a matter of private business."

Whitlock's heart is in the right place and his concern for poor Americans trapped in an unfair judicial system are more than justified.

And I should know. I was once one of those poor kids, arrested and facing trial for a crime I did not commit and denied legal representation even though I was living well below the poverty line. I lost almost two years of my life defending myself against false accusations and had no way of recovering damages from the years lost and money spent.

The criminal justice system can be anything but fair and oftentimes devastating to the most at-risk populations in this country. 

But using Robert Kraft for his reaction to the continued suspension of his quarterback as a means of illustrating the problems of the criminal justice system and suggesting a certain tone-deafness from Kraft is nonsense. 

The man was fully expecting a different decision from the commissioner. When that decision failed to materialize, he was stunned. Shocked. He found the ruling to be unfathomable. And when compared to the results of recent appeals by NFL players to disciplinary measures, Kraft's reaction was not without merit.

Agree with the commissioner's decision or not, almost all appeals result in a reduced suspension or the elimination of the suspension entirely.   

Unfathomable was at least in the realm of possible human emotions when you consider the facts.

I want to be asked more rhetorical questions

I was watching Homeland last night (season 2, episode 1), and someone asked Claire Danes’ character, “Who do you think you are?”

I was so jealous. I am so ready for this question. But no one ever asks me it. I hear it in movies and on television all the time, and I can recall hearing it once in real life, but never has that question been directed at me.

Unfortunately, Danes’ character failed to recognize it as a rhetorical question, as so many fictional characters do. Instead, she treated the question like an indictment. An attack on her decision to be at a certain place at a certain time. She went on the defensive and ultimately lost the verbal battle. 

What she should’ve said was something like this:

“Who do I think I am? Look, I may be bipolar and no longer privy to this country’s deepest, darkest secrets, but I know exactly who I am. I’m Carrie Matheson, damn it. Former CIA officer who has saved countless lives countless number of times, including the life of the Vice President and other high ranking United States officials, even though even I don’t know that I averted that potential disaster. I also happen to be the only person smart enough to know that Nicholas Brody is an al-Qaeda operative, and by the end of this season or maybe next, I’m probably going to kill him and save more lives. Who do I think I am? Is that really the best you can do?”


Rhetorical questions are sneaky. They can trip up someone even as skilled and savvy as former CIA agent Carrie Mathison.

As I’ve written before, you need to train yourself to listen for them, and when asked, you must answer as quickly, as literally, and as aggressively as possible.

It won’t always win you an argument, but it’s a great way to blunt your opponent’s attack and have some fun in the process.