Golden Tate Is Now The NFL’s Public Enemy #1

Between last week’s cheap shot on Sean Lee and this week’s Monday Night Football debacle, the Notre Dame alum has become the NFL’s biggest heel.

Kevin Casey / Getty Images

Part of the reason why the NFL season has been so lackluster is because its villains have mostly been off-field, i.e. Roger Goodell and Greg Schiano. It’s more viscerally fun to watch a game while rooting against a team or a player than it is to watch a game while annoyed in the abstract about a labor dispute. So although it might have been a horrible blemish on the NFL, Monday night’s fiasco between Green Bay and Seattle did have one positive result: it turned Golden Tate into the 2012 NFL season’s first supervillain.

Prior to his Groping-Hands-of-God dickery against Green Bay, Tate was already well-qualified to be a heel. He played football at Notre Dame, which, it barely needs to be said, didn’t finish in the top 25 during Golden Tate’s career. Nonetheless, when you first meet Golden Tate, maybe at a rustic Seattle crab restaurant, he definitely introduces himself as “All-American Golden Tate, 2009 Biletnikoff Award winner and graduate of the University of Notre Dame,” and the whole time he says this he’ll be squeezing your hand as hard as he can with both of his. (Unconfirmed, but.)

Golden Tate’s Twitter handle is @ShowtimeTate. Just looking at his last five tweets, he kind of seems like a spambot.

Autographed cleats, cool.

Tate has a very advanced hype-to-production ratio. He’s had as many fumbles (two) as touchdowns (three) in his two-year career, and a negligible 609 total yards. For a second-rounder, that’s dismal. 2012 started poorly for him as well. He sat out Week 1 with a golden knee injury, then caught three balls for 38 yards in Week 2. He also used Week 2 to deliver one of the season’s dirtiest hits, blindsiding Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee with a helmet to the chin, then blundering around in celebration while Lee lay on the ground.

So Golden Tate’s crowning achievement as an NFL player prior to Week 3 of his third season was an illegal helmet-to-helmet cheap shot that he reacted to like this:

Who’s got two thumbs and a $21,000 fine?

Finally, as everyone knows by now, Tate didn’t catch a last-second Hail Mary pass last night, but the replacement refs decided that he did, and the Seahawks won, and etc. etc. Most of that can’t really be blamed on Golden Tate; I mean, you can blame him for not catching the Hail Mary, but most receivers wouldn’t have — that’s a tough ball.

What you can blame Golden Tate for is his jackass insouciance afterward. While Russell Wilson shows a certain degree of humility in answering the sideline reporter’s questions, Golden Tate’s responses are a bizarre synthesis of football buzzwords and haughty, cross-eyed obstinance.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Golden Tate’s beard is stupid.

Either way, this was a classic heel turn by Golden Tate: become the beneficiary of some mysterious good fortune; refuse to admit it was mysterious good fortune; babble weirdly when asked about it; have a dumb beard. I welcome this new storyline. Hopefully in Week 4, Golden Tate tackles Sam Bradford on the sideline, and in Week 7, he punches a Marine in the back of the head, and in Week 14, he fills Kevin Kolb’s helmet with Sriracha sauce even though he knows Kolb is allergic to Sriracha sauce.

It was all fun and games until he crossed Kevin Kolb.

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