And then there were two.
After a season of offensive explosion and defensive implosion, the stage is now set for one of the most riveting Super Bowl match-ups in recent memory. Not only is it a compelling match-up on paper, it also carries with it enough drama to put the drama queens at TNT out of business. Eli is attempting to vanquish the shadow of big brother, and Brady is determined to exorcise some demons. I have already seen the “REVENGE” t-shirts donning the Pats’ colors.
Although the match-up is close on paper, there is indeed a much greater disparity when one examines the popular choice regarding who most—aside from those who live in the multi-state area of New England—would like to see emerge victorious on February 5th.
I will come out right now and admit that I do not like the Patriots. Actually, I detest them. And I know that I am not alone in my sentiment.
The fact is, there are several reasons why people dislike the Patriots. Most in the Patriots camp will scream from the rooftops in disdain for my fulmination. They will throw out words like “best ever” and “jealousy” with their obnoxiously flippant attitudes.
I do not care.
There are a plethora of reasons why people do not like the Patriots. All of which coalesce into greater reasons as to why these same people would love to see them fall again to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
But why such strong abhorrence? Are we all really just egomaniacal buffoons who cannot appreciate greatness?
Maybe. Maybe not. But it is worth a look anyway.
“The Patriot Way”
New England has a penchant for turning busted prospects into gold, and winning within the “system”. They hoard draft picks like food in nuclear winter, and they leverage said picks to bolster their roster.
With the success the Pats have enjoyed over the past decade, one would think other GM’s in the league would eschew dealing with the Patriots on any level and in any capacity. In some way, the opposing team just gets shafted—every time. The best example I can offer is when the Pats’ brass recognized Oakland’s desperation to get rid of a despondent Randy Moss. Moss was going to walk, and the Raiders would get nothing.
New England offered the Raiders a mid-round draft pick and Moss resurrected his career with the Patriots—to the tune of 23 TD’s in ONE season. This same tale can be told when one discusses Corey Dillon, a purported reject from Cincinatti. The Pats allowed Curtis Martin, a projected Hall of Famer, to walk because they knew something would be coming down the pike.
These types of shrewd moves have come to be known as the Patriot Way. It is synonymous with winning, because apparently, that is all the Pats do. Sad thing is, only the Patriots themselves can execute the Patriot way. Others have tried to mimic it and have failed. Even those who are students of the institution (see Weis, Crennel, McDaniels) cannot bottle its powerful energy. With this in mind, how does this team manage to make everything work? How are they able to be successful in taking risks (as was the case with supposed malcontents like Moss and Dillon) where other teams falter (like the Jets did with Neil O’Donnell or the Cards have with Kolb)?
Is it luck or skill? Lunacy or intelligence?
Tom Brady is probably the greatest example of this dichotomy of luck or skill. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, Brady is well on his way to becoming—depending on whom you speak to—one of the greatest to ever play the position.
The 199thpick, in the sixth round.
Six other teams (Jets, 49ers, Ravens, Steelers, Saints, Browns) drafted QB’s in that draft before Brady was taken. That fact alone sufficiently answers why fans in some of those cities hate the Pats—particularly the 49ers. Do you think 49er fans would have liked to see Brady out there last week instead of Alex Smith? Probably. However, the 49er brass figured that Giovanni Carmazzi was a better selection and the Browns really liked Spergon Wynn.
That’s right. Giovanni Carmazzi and Spergon Wynn. Both QB’s taken instead of Brady.
According to NFL Network, Carmazzi presently doesn’t own a TV and herds goats. I am not sure what Wynn is currently doing, but I know this: he is not the QB in the Super Bowl.
Granted, the draft is arguably the biggest crapshoot in all of professional sports. Yet, we live in a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” society that is further perpetuated by a media that is not accustom to forgetting mistakes or allowing those who make them to live them down very easily.
Not only has Brady been a nightmare to GM’s, he is a nightmare to opposing coaches as well. This has been—throughout his career—without the services of any typeof Hall of Fame player at any skill position (with the possible exception of Moss, but his stint was short and the Pats did not win a title). Brady has made his career thus far out of throwing to the likes of Welker (a Dolphins reject), Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown, and Jabar Gaffney. Not big name guys. But it still works out for him.
Even after he blows his knee out. He comes back stronger, better, and still very successful. Add that to the list of why it is okay to revolt against the Patriot Way. When trouble strikes, a team is supposed to lay down and die—just ask the Colts.
Yet, the Patriots didn’t flounder when Brady went down, they had a back-up who hadn’t started a game in years (even in college) that managed to lead them to an 11-5 record. Their most recent success could be the one to beat all though. I mean, who on God’s green earth drafts two tight ends in the first four rounds of the draft and finds success? A tight end with almost 20 TD’s in a season? Are you kidding me? Also, their defense gave up the second most yards in the league and they are in the Super Bowl? Denver did that last season and finished 4-12.
The Patriots Way works again.
But They Cheat…
This is where emotions run high and the conversation gets dicey. Belichick is, according to some, a cheater. He does things in this league that no other coach would even consider doing. He shakes hands when he wants to after games, and is the most ambiguous post-game interview in the history of football.
And that is why he is successful.
He incessantly runs up the score, includes a hang-nail on an injury report, and will examine every opportunity for any decided advantage (see the McDaniels hiring before the post-season began). Not surprisingly, he is the type of coach that every player wants to play for. Ironically enough, Giants fans should be particularly enamored with Belichick. After all, it was his defensive play-calling that allowed the Giants to stifle a dominant Bills offense back in SB XXV. I believe the playbook currently resides in Canton as a reminder to us all.
Belichick videotapes practices of other teams, walk-throughs before Super Bowls, and has the personality of a cadaver. He once accepted a job to coach the Jets, only to reject the job days later upon accepting the same position in New England.
Man, the guy has got stones.
So, in examining this greatness, is it pragmatic to revolt against the Pats in the “Bowl”—and even beyond?
I still maintain that it is. I do not have time to root for a team that has everything go right for them time after time. I need adversity. However, upon further examination, my thoughts could be motivated by the ethics of competition and good old-fashioned jealousy alike. I will admit that I have some ridiculous reasons for my hatred of the Patriots. For instance, I find the all-encompassing notion of “New England” to be annoying. Upon their inception, weren’t they known as the Boston Patriots? If they can hold claim to the New England moniker, why are the Celtics only relegated to Boston? Why not the New England Red Sox?
New England. Where does it geographically begin and end? Does it know any limits? Is it just an ostentatious superiority inculcation introduced by pretentious East Coast debutantes? One time a guy who was a Pats fan tried to explain to me that Virginia is sometimes included in New England.
Really? Can we just continue down the eastern seaboard? When will North and South Carolina join?
Moreover, maybe I have problems with New England because they just keep winning. Any idiot that attempts to tell me that a team can get by without an efficient, top-tier QB is fooling themselves. Look at the Pats’ rosters over the last decade. In no way are they inundated with large amounts of Hall of Fame players.
Vrabel? Bruschi? Harrison? Seymour? Branch? Givens? Dillon? Troy Brown?
Doubtful. But the rings do help. Just ask Michael Irvin.
Nonetheless, it all comes back to Brady. He is the cog in the engine that makes the Patriot Way go. The Golden Boy with the modeling contract and the Brazilian model for a wife. I think the Pats may win this game based on the sole principle that Brady is pissed off enough to beat them by himself. Just look at what he did against Denver after the media blistered the nation with talks of Tebow and how the Pats could be on the downward spiral.
Six TD’s. He easily could have had eight.
Maybe the Patriot Way will end when Brady is gone?
Again, doubtful. Unlike the asinine decision making and reticent nature of the Colts, the Pats already have a succession plan in place. While everyone was passing over Ryan Mallett because he decided to be a moron and smoke a few joints, the Patriots picked him up in the 4th round of 2011 draft.
Before the “character issues” that smoking some weed may bring, Mallett was arguably the best QB in the draft class. Gabbert and Ponder, who apparently do not smoke weed, were selected ahead of Mallett. Whether or not they are better remains to be seen.
The Patriot Way rules again.
God, I hate them.
Daniel Bogaard writes for TheFanManifesto. Follow him on twitter @bogie711. Follow us on twitter.