Now that the season is finally over, we've all had a chance to get over this recent loss, and it's time to start looking towards the future, I thought I'd take one last quick look back at the 2013 Patriots and why this past season was so much fun. A lot of it was because the expectations of how far this team can go seemed to change week to week. A lot of it was because of how we were all able to simply enjoy each and every game more than years past. A lot of it was because the "Super Bowl or Bust" stigma that was attached to the Pats every year didn't resonate as loudly as in the past. But more than anything else, this past season was a blast because it has been a long, long time since I have liked a team from top to bottom as much as I like these Patriots. There are no superstars. No divas. No locker room cancers and no bigmouths. Just a bunch of guys who came to work, played hard, and did whatever they needed to do to help this team win. Everyone was asked to do much more than they were ever expected to do, and guys stepped up left and right. This truly was an "us vs. the world" type of squad, and because of that, I wasn't simply rooting for the Patriots to win; I was rooting for those men to succeed - and that's an important distinction.
Of course, this past year also had me comparing the 2013 Patriots to some of my favorite movies of all-time. Exactly who the team was has changed so much over the years; for so long, they were the NFL's Private Pile, bumbling and inept, in way over their heads, and just a tube sock stuffed with soap away from completely losing it. But then, one magical year, they suddenly morphed into Rocky Balboa and shocked the world. Before long, they were Superman, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Somewhere along the line, they pulled a Hulk Hogan-to-NWO heel turn and became Ivan Drago, a cold, seemingly unstoppable machine that somehow gets thwarted by a short, borderline-mentally handicapped, pug-faced scrapper. The Pats have been so dominant for so long, watching them play this year has been akin to Indigo Montoya not knowing what to do with the rest of his life now that's he's out of the revenge business. And with the season over, it's pretty much do or die time when it comes to making the necessary movie parallels.
To be honest, which exact movie these 2013 Patriots mirrored is still a mystery to me, but I have narrowed it down to four that I think have potential to fit the bill. While I won't pick a winner here, I do think that these movies - more specifically these movie scenes - perfectly encapsulate what we have all been witnessing over the past few months.
Is this a thinly and poorly disguised excuse to talk about some of my favorite movies? You bet it is.
The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There he stands, the fabled Black Knight, stoic and unspoken, used to nothing more than thwarting his enemies and making sure that none shall pass. Then, in a completely unexpected turn of events, things take a decided turn for the worse as the Black Knight soon finds himself missing one arm, then two. Rather than give up, he starts kicking Arthur with everything he has until he's hopping around on one leg, which only means he has to run into Arthur with a series of body checks, all the while screaming insult after insult. Only when he is sitting on the ground completely limbless does he express willingness to call it a draw, and even then he threatens to bite Arthur's arms off. Perhaps no movie scene better sums up these Patriots than this one; a once formidable warrior is now sitting on the ground having completely lost all of his limbs, but is still trying to win the fight.
The boxing scene from Cool Hand Luke. After giving Dragline a little too much lip for his liking, Luke is forced into a boxing match with the bigger, stronger opponent. It starts out even, but eventually Dragline simply has more power and strength, knocking Luke down several times. After a while, the once wild spectators start to go quiet and tell Luke to just stay down and save himself further injury. Luke, of course, is having none of that, and continues the fight despite being literally out on his feet. Eventually, Dragline simply quits and walks inside, leaving Luke on unsteady feet, but still willing to keep going. As Cool Hand Luke says while looking up at his opponent, "you're going to have to kill me." And you are. These Patriots aren't stopping anytime soon, win or lose.
William Wallace is executed in Braveheart. William Wallace has been betrayed, captured, and sentenced to death. And since he has been such a thorn in the side of Edward the Longshanks, his death will be neither quick nor painless; he is to be hung, drawn, and quartered, which needless to say is no picnic. As the English wheel him out in front of a raucous crowd that spits, hits, and throws rotten fruit at him, he never makes a sound. When he is strung up by his arms and legs, not so much as a peep. When they hang him by his neck to within an inch of his life, he doesn't say a thing. And then, as they are removing his intestines with a dull, rusty hook, he finally breaks his silence, only to yell out "Freedom!" as loud as he can before they finally lop off his head. I would have been crying for mercy about two seconds after the Grand Inquisitor pulled back the cloth to show all those torture implements - but not Wallace. He was in it to the end, and the only way to get him to stop fighting was to decapitate him. And that's how these Patriots were. It didn't matter who they are playing, who is on the field, or what the score is, you are going to have to decapitate them if you want to get out of there with a win.
Daniel LaRusso busts out the Crane Kick in The Karate Kid. Pretty much from the moment Daniel shows up in California, has has a target on his back. Almost immediately disliked by everyone (save one pretty girl who sees something nobody else does), Daniel has no choice but to fight for his good name - and likely a lifetime of torment - in the All Valley Under 18 Karate Championship. A surprisingly hot start sees him make it all the way to the semi-finals before things get dirty and Tommy of the Cobra Kai tries to take him out of commission. Daniel, however, won't go down so easy, so it's up to Johnny Lawrence to sweep the leg. Daniel, now fighting on one foot, has to bust out every move in his arsenal - including the dreaded Crane Kick - in order to take Johnny down and secure the victory. Dirty hits, gang-up tactics, and constantly being put down as everyone fawns over hot hand the is the name of the game for the Patriots, but that's alright. That just means it's time to win the fight on one leg, and if they lose, then they lose, but it won't be because anyone got the best of them.