Few teams in professional sports divide opinions like the New England Patriots. The NFL’s most successful team of the 21st century is backed by millions of supporters around both the nation and the globe, but simultaneously also the number one target for at least an equal number of people. This does not just play out in the stands or on the football field, but in the media as well – just think Deflategate coverage.
Two people stand in the middle of all of this: head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. The future Hall of Fame passer recently was asked about the unparalleled levels of hate the Patriots get on WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan Show, but instead of only talking about the team’s success and medially built-up controversies surrounding it as the main motivations, he also offered a different theory (transcript via NESN’s Zack Cox).
“Part of being a professional athlete, you’re dealing with lots of different things and lots of criticism,” Brady said. “Obviously, you have a lot of people that support you, but you also have a lot of people that kind of cheer for other teams. [...] I think it’s a different part about football, for example, in America. I mean, we never... if you look at a lot of other sports around the world, at some point maybe you get to represent your country.”
“Like watching the World Cup in summer, I see all these soccer players that play for these different clubs but then come together for their country at some point,” the 41-year old continued. “In America, we never get a chance to do that.” While the United States do in fact have a national football team, Brady and other NFL players will never represent their country in a big event.
The rules governing the world cup, for example, are incredibly restrictive and professional players are not allowed to represent their country (it does not matter: the US-team won all three world cups in which it participated with a combined record of 11-0 and an average margin of victory of 39.9 points). Brady and the rest of the Patriots will therefore never wear their country’s colors – and never get cheered on by people that usually root against them.
“So most Americans probably, that live in other parts of the country, they don’t like the Patriots,” Brady concluded before starting to talk about success as another motivation for the hate New England gets. “They don’t like me, and I can understand that. I mean, I was a 49ers fan at one point. They just want to see their team win, and when they don’t, I think they’ve got to direct that frustration somewhere else.”
“And when you’ve been successful like our team’s been I think frustration gets directed at us,” Brady continued. “That’s just part of it. You just have to understand that’s what you’re getting into.” In the end, it is a combination of different reasons and motives – but his theory about not playing in a national team might subconsciously also be a reason. Well, that and five Lombardi Trophies in what was supposed to be an age of parity.