I'm not sure any of you have noticed it over the years, but there is a fairly large contingency of people out there who aren't too fond of the New England Patriots.
And by "not too fond of the New England Patriots," I mean that they are hated with the heat of a thousand suns. Despised with a Wes Mantooth on Ron Burgundy furor. Loathed like me whenever I mention to anyone that I didn't really like Breaking Bad.
In fact, I'd go so far to say that, for a lot of people, their dislike of the Patriots has almost usurped their love for their favorite team. The Patriots have been so good for so long that hating them has simply become second nature. When a team is good, they garner their share of detractors: the Lakers, the Yankees, Manchester United, and any other perennial powerhouse are always going to have fans that hate them. But perhaps no other team, in America at least, draws the ire of not just the fans, but of the former players, media pundits, and league executives the way the Patriots do. Nobody has ever called a Yankee World series trophy, won on the bats of roided out monsters and the arms of PED-guzzling pitchers, tainted. No analyst has ever called the Steelers trophies, won during an era where every Pittsburgh player always carried a quarter around so he could put it into a dispenser and have a plastic egg chock-full of steroids fall out, into question. It's only in New England, where a franchise has consistently won in a league specifically designed to avoid any kind of sustained success, where every single move is both mistrusted and scrutinized. You give a Pats hater an inch, and he'll take it a mile.
And we all love it.
Make no mistake: Patriots fans absolutely LOVE Patriots haters. We can't get enough of it. I'll admit it can get tiresome at times, and it's frustrating to see those whose job is to provide objective analysis of the game unable to keep their own bias from shining through, but at the end of the day few things make us happier than seeing someone completely incensed by a piece of Patriots related news. The amount of energy people expend voicing their opinions that the Patriots are the worst thing to ever happen to anything at any point and how Patriots fans are just pure idiocy personified could easily solve the growing global power crisis. Sure, you're always going to get those Pats fans who get irked at some yahoo calling out their favorite teams, people who are easy to rile up and provide fodder for the continued diatribes, but for the most part watching people rant, rave, and stomp their feet over the Patriots is one of our greatest joys. If I ever read a Patriots-related article and don't read at least 20 internet comments with the words "Cheatriots," "Belicheat," "scumbag," and "asterisk," I'll be a sad boy indeed.
The problem, though, is that with this latest Super Bowl victory, some of the tried and true stalwarts of the anti-Patriots agenda took a major blow. The team has been among the NFL's elite for a decade and a half now, and as a result they have amassed quite the repertoire of anti-Patriots lingo that has become as ingrained in the American milieu as apple pie and celebrity rehab. With this latest win, though, much of that lingo has become obsolete, leaving me a bit worried that we won't be getting some of the absolute gems that we have come to know and love over the years. It kind of has me worried, in a weird way.
But fear not, Patriots haters. I'm here for you. There's still plenty of material out there that will allow you to pile on to our beloved franchise to your jealous heart's content. True, there have been a few casualties, but that just means that efforts can be focused on some of the other nuggets out there. And here are a few of my favorites, all in one convenient place, just in case anyone gets confused. I don't have the time, unfortunately, to make this list comprehensive, but I do have some of my favorites posted here. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since SpyGate. This is a big loss, as it was one of the most popular lines out there for a long time. Not only was it the truth no matter how you looked at it, but it not-so-subtly hinted that the only reason the Pats were so successful over the years was because of the fact that their sideline camera operator was not wearing the appropriate green vest and standing in the designated sideline camera operator's section. I mean yeah, the numbers were all significantly better post-SpyGate than pre, but still, there was no ring to show for it, and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is championships. To take solace in the fact that maybe, just maybe, the Patriots weren't going to win another one and there would always be that question about SpyGate hanging over their heads got many a Patriots hater through season after season of double digit wins and impressive playoff runs. Now, though...not so much. This is a tough pill to swallow.
But don't worry! You still have...
18-1. This one will always be there for you, and no matter how many more rings Tommy B gets before he hangs them up, you'll never have to worry about losing this one. It's a mic drop kind of line, as there isn't really anything that a Pats fan can say to disprove it. You can be getting smacked around in every sense of the word while engaged in a debate over New England's merits, but you'll always be able to give us the ol' 18-1. David Tyree's face and Asante Samuel's drop robbed the Patriots of a perfect season, and that will never change. The only way this one will go away is if the Pats somehow manage to run the table again, and the odds of that happening are slim. So take heart knowing that you'll always have this one to remind us of the championship that should have been. Granted, it stings a whole lot less now that we got that fourth ring and this latest win feels like that wound has officially closed, but we still lost that Super Bowl. That ain't gonna change.
Tom Brady's window has closed and the Patriots are living in the past. This one has to sting too, because after all, what's sadder than someone who can't let go of the glory days? It was so easy - and so much fun - to paint Patriots fans as delusional, sad, pathetic losers hanging out at their local townie bar, wearing their now too small Varsity letter jackets, and reminiscing about the good old days when the Pats were kings. Just a bunch of sad sacks who couldn't let it go or admit that their golden boy was over the hill and past his prime. Their hero, their champion, the man that they worshipped at an unhealthy level, just wasn't that good anymore. He was never going to win a fourth ring, he was never going to be painted as anything more than a guy who had a lot of success early, but faded as time passed and will be remembered as much for what he didn't accomplish as for what he did. And there was never a bad time to bring that up.
But don't worry! You still have...
The NFL is backing the Patriots and helping them win. This is my favorite type of Patriots hate and it isn't even close: the tinfoil hat wearing, conspiracy theory truthers who, no matter what evidence and data you throw at them, will always be able to spin things back to the Patriots being the NFL darlings and the league doing anything and everything that it can to ensure that the Pats aren't punished or reprimanded for a deeply entrenched and well-established culture of cheating and dishonesty. The best thing about it is that there's just no arguing with it or those who subscribe to it; it's like this catch-all phrase that allows you to believe anything you want and provides at least some semblance of a structure for that belief. Of course the Patriots win! The NFL is helping them! Of course the Pats get all the calls! Goodell and Bob Kraft are besties! Of course those stats and data defend your point! When the whole league is in on it, it's easy to make your case! It's perfect, and if you don't care about logic, reason, or common sense, it's an ironclad argument.
Peyton Manning is better than Tom Brady. There are still a few folks out there who are clinging to this one, but for the most part this debate is over. In all honestly, this debate should never even have started till both of these All-Time Greats retire, but we're well past the point of no return now. Given Brady's regular season stats, his winning percentage, his postseason stats, and his championship record, it's very, very difficult to make any kind of case for Manning as the better QB. The conversation now is no longer whether or not Brady or Manning is better, but rather if Brady or Montana is the greatest quarterback of all time. It's a discussion you're hearing everywhere this offseason, and one that will likely be a subject of debate for some time. But as far as Brady vs. Manning is concerned, it's time to put it to bed. Maybe the debate can pick up again if Peyton comes back and makes an impressive postseason run, but as of right now, it's Tommy B in a landslide.
But don't worry! You still have...
Joe Montana is undefeated in Super Bowls. Brady lost two out of his last three. Is it grasping at straws? Yup. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And the fact of the matter is that Joe Montana has a perfect record in Super Bowls and Tom Brady doesn't. Sure, Brady went to two more than Joe did and he went to all of them with completely different teams, but there's no reason to allow that to get in the way. Undefeated is undefeated, and Brady isn't that. So take that, Tommy.
Deflategate. What looked to be one of the most wonderful things ever to happen to a Patriots hater - a possible cheating scandal right on the verge of another Super Bowl trip - is quickly turning into a disaster of epic proportions. Absolutely nobody knows anything, the contradictions are contradicting the contradictions, and the NFL is looking like a bunch of absolute fools. There's even the possibility now that the Patriots were the victims of a sting operation in which a few folks conspired to catch them doing something shady, even though there was zero evidence to prove that anything went on. So what started as a wonderful shot to pile on to the SpyGate references is quickly deteriorating into a scenario in which the Patriots actually look like the good guys for a change. That really has to suck.
But don't worry! You still have...
Deflated Balls. This is comedic gold right here. The Deflategate story is unraveling faster than a ball of yarn at a creepy cat lady convention, but that should never stop anyone from making any number of references to New England's balls being deflated. Bill Belichick knows all about Tom Brady's balls. Tommy B likes old balls. Brady rubs his balls down until they're perfect. You simply can't script stuff like this. Jokes about balls will never get old, and even though the whole story is nonsense and the only ones who appear to have done things the right way is the Patriots, taking a subtle jab at New England by going the Deflategate route rather than acknowledging yet another Patriots Super Bowl Victory should go far in getting that smug sense of self-satisfaction back. There's absolutely zero reason to let this go, no matter how thoroughly the whole thing gets debunked.
- How is this news? Just another scumbag move from a scumbag organization.
- The Patriots are cheaters? Shocking! Water is wet and the sky is blue!
- Once a cheater, always a cheater. Nothing the Patriots do will ever be anything but tainted for me.
Don't quit, haters. And never change.