September 7, 2017


SOMEDAY, YOU WILL LOVE THE PATRIOTS (Will Leitch, 9/07/17, Sports on Earth)

It is strange to read NFL season previews, almost every single one of which ends with some variation of "the Patriots are the obvious, overwhelming, no-duh favorites to win the Super Bowl," in the wake of last year's Super Bowl. Obviously, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead halfway through the third quarter, and that's something they're going to have to live with forever. But let's not forget what we were saying about the Patriots at that particular moment. It wasn't just "the Falcons are killing them." It was, "the Patriots look so old. They're toast. The dynasty is over." [...]

The Falcons looked like the future of football: speed everywhere, getting the ball to your burners in space, going nuts. The Pats looked old and tired and beaten. Now, after a quarter and a half that might be the most amazing in Super Bowl history, they're young and fresh and dominant and Obvious Favorites again? If the Patriots' comeback had fallen short and they had lost the Super Bowl, would we all be calling them the clear favorites in 2017? We wouldn't, right? That's just a quarter-and-a-half of football, switching the Patriots from "over" to "better than ever."

But that's what the Patriots do to us: They make us so emotional. Everything is always The Best Ever or The Worst Ever. They're either the greatest or the most devious. There is never an middle ground on the Patriots, and it's tough not to notice that this same all-or-nothing mindset -- a mindset one might call downright Belichickian -- has seeped in throughout the entire NFL. Counting the year before and after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI -- and at this point I feel obliged to remind you that the entire sports world was cheering for Belichick over Kurt Warner in that game, a moment in history that will never be repeated in any realm for as long as humanity exists as a species -- the NFL had eight champions in nine years, with random teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland and Tennessee and Atlanta showing up in the Super Bowl. But the Patriots, as they always do, immediately began to weaponize the Big Game: In the 14 years since, they've won four Super Bowls, and the Super Bowls they didn't win were mostly defined by the winners' relation to the Patriots. "The Giants have their number; Peyton Manning finally broke through; the Steelers only win when they don't have to go through the Patriots."

They have owned the NFL, on the field and off, for so long that it's difficult to remember a time they didn't. The last time the Patriots weren't the center of the NFL, the rookie of the year was Mike Anderson, a guy who is now 43 years old. Barack Obama couldn't even get into the Democratic National Convention. Donald Trump was having a fight with Jesse Ventura on the Howard Stern show. Lots of things have happened.

And here's the thing: Eventually, we're all going to pretend we loved them. This is what we do with our champions.

...the rest are just props.

Posted by at September 7, 2017 5:20 PM