Patriot Fans Should Enjoy Their Success
As a Denver Bronco fan since 1965, I have a long dislike of the Boston/ New England Patriots. In the sixties, the Broncos were inept and quarterbacks like Boston’s Babe Parilli carved up the Denver defense like deli meat. So I was naturally glad to see Philadelphia eke out a win in Super Bowl LII. The enemy of my enemy and all of that. Usually, I root for the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. But in the cases of New England and the Raiders, I make an exception. There is no NFC team I hate as much as those two. (Okay maybe Dallas). The brief but disastrous tenure of hoodie junior, AKA boy blunder Josh McDaniels, put New England back on top of this list of my hated rival NFL teams.
But if I am honest, it is not really the teams I hate, it’s the fans. Boston can never redeem itself in my eyes after the way they treated Colorado sports writers during the 2007 World Series. Fans (short for fanatics) of some teams seem more prone to obnoxious behavior than others. Exhibit A is the rioting and looting in Philadelphia and other cities after winning a championship. I know that every fan group has bad apples but some cities tolerate a lot more than others. Denver has won three Super Bowls without a single riot. Boorish behavior is discouraged by most Broncomaniacs. As an example, Denver fans who threw snowballs at an opposing team were booed, shamed, and shunned by most Bronco supporters. In Oakland, such behavior is encouraged. Only they throw batteries and other objects instead of snowballs for obvious reasons.
In spite of all of this, I have to admit that this decade’s version of the Patriots ranks as one of the greatest football teams of all time. And that honor falls mostly on the shoulders of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. God knows how much I hate saying it, but Brady goes to the top of the list of all-time great quarterbacks. Ahead of Joe Montana, John Elway, and even my beloved Bart Starr. I may be a die-hard Bronco fan, but I am first and foremost a football fan. And what Brady and Belichick have done is historic. The fact that they lost this game actually highlights their success instead of diminishing it. Super Bowl LII proved what Bronco fans have known for decades… it’s damn hard to get to the big game. It’s even harder to win it. Losing SBLII demonstrates how remarkable the other Patriot victories are.
As a fan of the game I think it’s better for football that the Eagles won. The fact that a strip sack sealed the victory made it even sweeter. I’m old school… I love great defense. I think it’s a sacrilege that some online commentator ranked Super Bowl 50 as a boring game (number 42 on his list.) And my disdain is not because it involved the Broncos. It makes me mad that he and some other fans didn’t appreciate how phenomenal the 2015 Denver defense was. The strip sacks of Cam Newton were as gorgeous in my eyes as any TD pass thrown in any game.
But I digress. Of course New England fans are disappointed that their team lost. And they will debate endlessly about the benching of Butler and its impact on the outcome. As fans they should. But they also need to enjoy this incredible ride that their team is on. Because it won’t last. I remember watching Elway and the Broncos struggle in a playoff game against Houston in the eighties. In the moment that Elway successfully ran on a crucial fourth down play, I realized how much I had been taking him and his success for granted. The Brady/Belichick team is truly one for the record books and it won’t be long before New England struggles again. Even successful organizations in football go through hard times. Ask the Steeler and Cowboy fans. Dysfunctional organizations can occasionally have a good run due to parity rules but long-term success in the NFL is hard. Really hard.
It’s not easy to like the Patriots. Between the cheating, the gloating fans, and Belichick’s disdain for the media, it’s just natural to root against them. But in the long run, like them or not, their decades’ long success is amazing. New England fans need to enjoy their view from the top while they can. Fans of thirty other NFL teams would trade places with them in a heartbeat. And the view from the bottom ain’t very pretty.