Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sharing some final thoughts as I wrap up the New England Patriots' 2012 season.
I know I already did my "Coping With Loss" article today, and to be honest, it's already time to put this defeat behind us and start getting ready for the upcoming offseason, free agency period, and draft. I'm all set to close the book on 2012 and start looking forward to another serious playoff run in 2013. But before I do that, before I officially turn the page, I'd like to share something with all of you that I have come to realize again and again over the years.
How great is it to be a Patriots fan?
Seriously, how great is it? Is there any other team in the entire NFL that you would rather root for? Is there any other franchise who has had not only an unprecedented streak of dominance in a league designed specifically to avoid this kind of consistent winning, but also generates such unabashed hatred from the rest of the football world? How amazing is it that our team is so good that anything other than a Super Bowl victory is seen as a totally failed season? And how amazing is it that the Patriots losing brings so much joy to so many people? Does anybody outside of Atlanta give a crap that the Falcons lost on Sunday? How lucky are we that everyone cares so much and is so damn happy that we lost? Every time I start to doubt the dominance of this team, every time I start to wonder if I have seen my last Super Bowl of the Belichick/Brady era, all I have to do is go to any comment board on any football-related article anywhere, and it won't be long until the Patriots become the focal point of the conversation. I hope I never stop hearing the words "SpyGate," "Belicheat," "18-1," and any other anti-Patriots nonsense that's out there. Because as soon as I stop hearing that, then the Patriots are no longer relevant and nobody cares about them any more. Then, and only then, will the Patriots go away. But based on what I've been hearing so far over the past few days, we are nowhere close to that happening.
When every single time you lose is reason for a parade in 31 other cities, when opposing players would rather bash your team than celebrate their own victories, when football fans everywhere treat your team's elimination from the playoffs as the next best thing to winning a Super Bowl themselves, then you know that you have been very good for a long, long time. Every article, every breakdown, every video, every text message, every Tweet, every jab - all they do is solidify New England's status as the team that everyone hates because they are always so damn successful. Teams that haven't won a Super Bowl in 30 years play the "Patriots haven't won in 8 years" card. The New York Jets' season ended the way ours just did two years ago, and their fans are still celebrating it. New England has set the bar so high for themselves that it doesn't even matter how potent their offense was this year or how many new records Tommy B set. All of those things now fall under the umbrella of your average Patriots season. The New England Patriots have now become binary: you either are a fan and root for them to win the Super Bowl or you hate them and can't wait until the playoffs start so you can root for them to lose and then talk about how long it has been since they won it. That's my team. Those are my Patriots. And I couldn't be happier about it.
The days following a playoff loss are always tough, as that's when the haters are at their loudest. But what those morons don't realize is that every damning statistic, every "Brady's window is closing" article, every Spygate reference, and every reminder that the Patriots haven't won the Super Bowl since only seeks to further build up the team that the haters want so badly to go away. So thank you, haters. Thank you Terrell Suggs. Thank you Shannon Sharpe. And thank you everyone who has ever posted anything negative about the Patriots. I'm looking forward to hearing from you next year when the Patriots make the playoffs again and you want them to lose so bad that you can taste it.
Until then, I'll just keep doing my thing; hopefully, you'll keep doing yours.