|James Lang/USA Today Sports|
Water is wet, everyone pays taxes, and mostly everyone outside of New England hates the Patriots. Those are facts that not even Sean Spicer could dispute.
But that third thing, the hatred for one of the NFL's marquee franchises, is as strong as it's ever been, according to Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald.
In a column published in the Herald earlier this week, Buckley pieces together New England's football timeline starting with how they were the beloved underdogs when they won their first Super Bowl to their upcoming appearance in Super Bowl LI and everything in between.
Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the piece, which you can read in full here.
Remember when the Pats won that first Super Bowl? They were plucky underdogs in those days, and the owner of the franchise, Papa Kraft, tugged at the red, white and blue in all of us when he famously said, post-9/11, “Today we are all Patriots.”
But then came another Super Bowl championship two years later, and another the next year. No longer plucky, no longer a cute story, the Pats were now the Red Auerbach-Bill Russell Celtics. They were Notre Dame football. They were Duke basketball.
“Spygate” was the much-chronicled cheating scandal that moved the Patriots to the top of the America’s Most Hated Team power rankings. I could go to the archives and dredge up a whole lot of tsk-tsking from rival coaches and players, but my favorite was delivered by Mr. Tomlinson, still upset over the Pats dancing on his team’s logo: “I think the Patriots live by saying, ‘If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,’” he told reporters after Spygate broke. “You keep hearing different stories of people complaining about the stuff they do, so I’m not surprised.”
And then came Deflategate. This time the Pats were hit with a $1 million fine and lost another first-round pick (along with a fourth-round pick), all of which was couch change compared with the four-game suspension levied on Tom Brady to open this season.
Pats fans can scream forever that Brady was innocent. Even those who believe something fishy might have been going on with the footballs can protest that the punishment — particularly the four-game Brady suspension — was a colossal abuse of power by Goodell. And it was.
But to most football fans in America, it was just another reason to hate the cheatin’ Patriots.
Lastly, there’s the Trump factor: Kraft, Belichick and Brady are all on record as being “friends” of our new president, though they have stopped short of saying they actually supported him. Belichick has gone so far as to say that the letter he wrote in support of Trump was not political, even though the then-candidate read it at a rally in Manchester, N.H.
And now for my top favorite:
And now that the Pats are back in the Super Bowl, their opponent, Atlanta, is going to emerge as America’s Team. The Falcons! Nobody has ever, ever, ever cared about the Falcons, except for now, because now they are gearing up for a Super Bowl showdown against America’s Most Hated Team.
I never thought I’d see the day when the entire country would pull up a chair and root for the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl.
This year just gets nuttier and nuttier.
Seriously, when has anyone given any sort of thought about cheering for the Falcons? Not even Falcons fans cared about cheering for them until this year. Atlanta is an awful sports town in every sense. I'm surprised the Georgia Dome was even sold out for their playoff games this year, because Phillips Arena sure wasn't when the Celtics went up against the Hawks in the NBA playoffs last year. Even during the dominant years of the Braves, no one was showing up to Turner Field, and that's a pretty nice ballpark (can't blame them for that now, though. The Braves suck).
Also as an aside, the idea that people hate the Patriots because of SOME of their personnel's supposed political affiliation is stupid. I'm not a Trump guy either, but come on...
All of this goes to show how deep-rooted the hatred for the Patriots is. I'm sure it bothers some Patriots fans, but I think being the villain is fun and I embrace it.
It makes it that much sweeter when they win.
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