Everywhere in America west of Pittsfield and south of Providence, football fans are gnashing their teeth, muttering obscenities, tearing their clothing and otherwise venting their misery over the fact that the New England Patriots are headed to their third straight Super Bowl.
Let them weep. Let them wail. Tough luck, crybabies.
My Pats cred reaches back to the Steve Grogan era (look him up, kids). I’m no Brady-come-lately. And I was so excited by their victory over the Chiefs that I went into my driveway after the game and turned over my own car.
So yet again, we Bostonians find ourselves the most hated people in the sports world. All because we have the greatest sports dynasty of all times (not to mention the most World Series rings this century). How can we explain this? Well, Pats haters are just jealous by nature. They probably despise puppies, apple pie, the Fourth of July and maybe even their own mothers.
If they could just step back from their own shortsighted negativity for a moment, which they can’t, they might give some grudging respect to the Pats. Never has the sports world seen a confluence of ownership, head coach, and star athlete that’s lasted anything close to the nearly two decades of Kraft, Belichick and Brady.
The five (soon to be six) Super Bowl victories are amazing enough. But here’s a record that will never be broken (until next season, by the Pats themselves): eight straight conference championship games. That’s a demonstration of consistency unparalleled in any sport, let alone one with a salary cap and an overwhelming desire for parity (which is really just another word for mediocrity).
Oh, the haters love to talk about the weakness of the AFC East. You can’t blame us if the other three teams have second-rate organizations and third-rate cultures. Not our fault. And where exactly in the NFL do you find a division with four – or even two or three – consistently strong teams, year after year? I’ll take your answer off the air.
The haters can’t stand Belichick’s no drama approach to the media, which his players follow 100 percent (or are quickly dispatched). Everybody likes Rex Ryan, John Harbaugh and Jon Gruden because they’re colorful and offer up great quotes. In fact, they do everything…but win.
Are the Pats cheaters? Deflategate was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ham-handed way of demonstrating to the rest of the League that he wasn’t Kraft’s errand boy. The Wells report is likely to go down in history as the most political, least factual document ever…that is, until the release of the Mueller report.
Spygate? Oh, please. Every team tries to find an edge. And we paid our price.
The Pats win so often because prepare more thoroughly than any other team. That’s the secret. They work smarter. They draft smarter. The most recent example: Sony Michel, who carved up the Chiefs for 113 yards and two TDs, was drafted 31st. Which means every other team in the NFL passed over him. No wonder they’ll be watching the Super Bowl on TV.
Michael Lombardi’s new book, "Gridiron Genius," demonstrates Belichick’s eye for detail, separating him from every other coach in football or any other sport. Did you know that Belichick does something called “padding”? This isn’t about padding the score. Instead, it’s about putting down on a legal pad what every single player does on every single play in every single game. Every move the player makes, how many steps, in what direction, as well as tendencies, preferences, intangibles, injuries, everything. It’s awfully hard to surprise Belichick on game day, because he knows your personnel better than you do.
And then there’s Tom Brady. Famously a sixth-round draft choice, he brings as much excitement and enthusiasm to his work as anyone in any field. You can’t say that Brady, in the hands of any other coach would have done as well. That’s because in most organizations, no coach would have lasted this long. But any decent quarterback on most other teams could have been a superstar, had he enjoyed the good fortune of having Belichick as his head coach.
Is Gronkowski finished? Didn’t look that way Sunday night. Edelman still hampered by his knee injury? Sorry. No Randy Moss-like receiver this year? That’s okay. We’ll get by. I guess this year’s edition of the Pats can win on the road after all.
Deep down, the Los Angeles Rams know they owe their presence in the upcoming Super Bowl to a blown call in the Saints game, not to their own efforts. So here comes Brady’s sixth ring and there goes any debate about who’s the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).
Nevertheless, the whiners will keep on whining, while New England keeps on winning. Too bad the haters can’t look beyond their own bitterness and jealousy to witness a level of greatness in sports that comes around as often as Halley’s Comet.
They hate us ‘cause they ain’t us.
So, best wishes from Titletown. Wish you were here.