Steve DelVecchio, LarryBrownSports:
The 2014 Patriots were the best team in the NFL, but they have a slightly new look heading into this season. Both of New England’s starting cornerbacks from their Super Bowl championship squad, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, are gone. Vince Wilfork, the anchor of Bill Belichick’s interior defense for years, has also moved on. But thanks to Deflategate, the Patriots should still be plenty motivated.
“Those guys, the players, are going to want to embarrass people,” said Donte' Stallworth, former NFL receiver told Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald. “Who knows what Bill is thinking, but the players will be ready to embarrass guys. I’ll tell you, this first game, it’s going to be amazing because they’re going to be so fired up. Bill is going to make sure they enjoy the banner being dropped, but he’s going to make sure they’re focused on winning that game. I guarantee those guys are going to be taking it out on them the first week of the season.”
Be careful what you wish for. There are no guarantees that raising the banner will give the home team a blowout victory.The San Francisco Giants raised the 2014 World Series banner in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies. The San Jose Mercury News called it "the flatest game in a decade." The Miami Heat raised the 2013 NBA title banner in a crushing 108-66 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The 2013 Baltimore Ravens were fresh off an exciting Super Bowl victory, 34-31 over the San Francisco 49ers. They were forced to open on the road against the Denver Broncos and were clobbered 49-27. At the banner raising against the Cleveland Browns in Week Two, the lifeless Ravens escaped with a 14-6 win. The Ravens trailed the lowly Browns at halftime, 6-0.
The Los Angeles Clippers will raise a banner commemorating a win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the ninth game of the season. “Yes, we intend to raise a banner,” said Los Angeles Clippers GM Neil Olshey. “It’s about changing the culture. We believe championships begin with banners. Right now we have an exciting, competitive, likable team for the first time since, well, ever, and we feel it’s necessary to take advantage of whatever momentum we’ve generated thus far.”
The banner will be the first of any kind for the embattled franchise, and will commemorate the Clippers’ 102-94 victory over the Lakers on January 14, 2012. This is just as silly as the Indianapolis Colts hanging a banner for getting crushed in the 2014 AFC Championship game by the New England Patriots, 45-7.
The opening game in 2002 at brand new Gillette Stadium had the New England Patriots raising the banner for winning Super Bowl XXXVI. They are now unveiling the organization’s fourth championship banner in 14 years after winning Super Bowl XLIX.
"Practice makes perfect."
Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire. .
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