It’s time for New England Patriot fans to stop flattering themselves by thinking there are millions of football fans around our nation who expend energy on hating their beloved football team.
Maybe it’s true in some parts of the country, where teams focused on the Patriots so much that they forgot to focus on their own strengths. That won’t happen to the Philadelphia Eagles when they face off against the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Those of us who live in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection are not approaching the Super Bowl with hatred in our hearts. We know that the outcome of the Super Bowl will be based upon our beloved Eagles ability to continue to be the same team that has defied the odds and a whole lot of injuries all season. The Patriots are not a team to be hated but rather to be rendered irrelevant.
Patriots fans – like my friend Michael Levin, who wrote a recent op-ed for Fox News about his beloved team – delude themselves with an inflated sense of self-importance when they imagine the rest of America is obsessed with the Patriots and consider them “America’s most hated team.”
Knowledgeable football fans respect the fact that Patriots Coach Bill Belichick is one of the great football coaches of all time, Gronk is a terrific tight end, and Tom Brady is a worthy placeholder for the title of best quarterback in history – until Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz completes a sufficient body of work to take over that title.
Many of us also appreciate that the Patriots’ most recent accomplishments have apparently been achieved within the rules, thus serving as a role model for rehabilitation professionals everywhere as they work helping patients understand that bad habits and cultures can be given up without giving up all chances for success.
And many of us watched the Patriots nice little come-from-behind 4-point victory over the third-seeded team in the AFC for the right to go to the Super Bowl and take on our Eagles, who dismantled the favored Minnesota Vikings by 31 points. That Eagles game, in many ways, has been a microcosm of the season.
At the start of the season, nobody expected the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl. They presumably had lightweights in the management and coaching offices. Optimists felt that they might have a better season than in 2016 when they achieved a 7-9 record, but they certainly weren’t a playoff team.
Then the season began, and the Eagles just kept winning – despite injuries that deprived them of some of their top players.
The Eagles’ philosophy throughout the season has been “next man up.” Everybody bought into that philosophy and everybody did his job.
And as the Super Bowl approaches, Howie Roseman has been named football executive of the year, Doug Peterson has become one of the top coaches in the league, and Nick Foles has quarterbacked the team to the place where we expected Carson Wentz to take us.
The team has a family spirit and is one of the most likeable teams in any sport. While some people may not like some of our fans, nobody can objectively hate the Eagles as a team.
As the Super Bowl approaches, however, the Eagles are the underdogs as they have been much of the season, including the entire playoffs – despite being the No.1 seed in the NFC. Everything is lining up just the way the Eagles like it – being an underdog to a team that has the exact same record.
So I’m sorry if I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about how and why we hate the Patriots. Most true Eagles fans actually respect and appreciate the Patriots’ accomplishments. But we are objective enough to sense that their time is coming to an end.
This is our time! Go Eagles!