On behalf the Patriots and the fans in New England I want to apologize to all the NFL teams and their fans. It seems the success of the Patriots has somehow offended the rest of the sports world. I'm sure the Patriots had no intention of upsetting the NFL nation by having such a successful season. I'm sure. had they known how many fans would look on their success as an inference that their team is woefully inferior, they would have lost a couple of games just to make the rest of the league feel better.
Look, we didn't know how fragile the psyche of the other teams and their fans were. How were we to know that they were going to look on our success as a personal affront to their dignity.
At the start of the season I was willing to chalk it up to sour grapes. The "spygate" fiasco got the season off to a bad start. I assumed that, with a little perspective, it would blow over and be seen as the minor infraction that it was. Man, was I ever wrong! I've got to tell you, there are a lot more sore sports out there than I imagined and they are carrying some sour grapes bigger than pumpkins.
As their win streak grew so did the venomous nature of the comments from both the fans and the sports media. The bitter and caustic remarks directed at the Patriots, the organization and their fans are almost unprecedented in their bias and bile. They have added a whole new dimension to the meaning of the word "asterisk". The various conspiracy theories regarding the refs, the NFL and their complicity in orchestrating the teams success rivals that of the believers in the plot to kill Kennedy or UFO's and the Roswell cover-up.
For some inexplicable reason, the more the Patriots win the more they have been hated by the average fan. They have been called cheaters, dirty players, classless and have been saddled with just about every other insult and negative label possible. They have never uttered a derogatory word of criticism toward any opponent, yet they are accussed of being arrogant on an almost criminal level. Bill Belichick has been equated with the second coming of Satan on earth. Fans everywhere seem to hate them for reasons they can't even define let alone justify. Go into any bar outside of New England and say the name Patriots and suddenly people start foaming at the mouth and their heads start exploding like cartoon characters in the middle of some apoplectic fit.
Generally speaking, once my team is eliminated, I root for the underdog for the remainder of a season or the playoffs. Last year I rooted for the Pats as always. It hurt when they lost to Manning and the Colts. However once the game was over, rather than rooting for the underdog, I decided to root for Manning. Actually so did most of my friends and fellow Pats fans. He has been a great QB and, as far as the rivalry between the Colts and the Pats, has always been a worthy opponent and good sport. He has never insulted or denigrated the Pats when his team lost or let loose with comments that suggested they didn't deserve to win. In victory he was magnanimous and gracious. He paid proper respects to the victors or the vanquished as any sportsman would.
For me it was easy to root for Manning. If Brady wasn't going to win then Manning was the next most deserving. I thought he had earned his shot and was glad to see him get the ring. Just because I love the Patriots and Tom Brady it doesn't mean I hate Manning and the Colts.
Obviously that is a minority opinion this year. Being a good sport is way out of vogue when it comes to the Patriots.
Every year we read about the remaining members of the Miami Dolphins holding the champaign and waiting for the last undefeated team to lose. Every year the fans express their hopes that someone will break their record and finally put them in their place. They have stood as the definative symbol for what makes a sore sport. I would have expected more fans to start rooting for the Patriots to go undefeated once their team was eliminated. Finally someone has the chance to set a new standard of achievement and shut the old geezers up. One would have expected that, after rooting for their own team, people would rally around any team that finally has the chance.
I'm pulling for the Patriots all the way this year. I want to see them make history. A team going 19-0 again in my lifetime is not very probable. It has taken 35 years for the Patriots to get in this position. I want to see them do it. I want them to go undefeated and take their place as the greatest team in NFL histyory... at least until someone else does it.
But I'll be honest, if it was another team that was 18-0 and playing the Patriots in the SB, I would be seriously torn. As much as I would want the Patriots to win I would just as much hate to see a team on the verge of such an accomplishment fall short. And if that 18-0 team was playing any other team I would be rooting for them all the way. I'm a Patriots fan, but I'm also a football fan. I would want to see a team succeed in a quest for history... that trumps an ordinary SB.
Apparently, at least as far as the rest of the NFL fans are concerned, if the Patriots win the superbowl and do finish undefeated, it will be the greatest insult that the sports world has seen since the Chicago Black Sox scandal. I'm almost afraid to root for the Patriots openly. Some where there is some **** planning his assault on the crowds at Gillette stadium... he's just waiting for that final push that will send him over the edge.
So I've decided that I'm going to handle the inevitable Patriots superbowl victory in a different way this year. Rather than celebrate, if the Pats win the superbowl, I am going to declare a personal state of mourning. I will send my condolences to all the teams we beat this year expressing my deep sympathy for their loss. I will petition congress for a memorial to all the fallen teams that we clobbered on the way to the Superbowl.
One thing for sure, rather than drive some borderline fan to suicide, I'm going to act like our winning was something to be ashamed of. I'll do my partying out of sight, in private, out of respect for all the losers out there.
It's clear that any celebration on our part is going to looked on by the rest of the sports world as being akin to laughing at a wake and dancing on a grave.