I have an extreme distaste for Boston sports.
If you grew up in New York, it’s in your blood – rather, it should be. As a kid, who was my baseball team? Not the Red Sox. Who did I root for in hockey before I truly followed the Sabres? Whoever’s playing the Bruins. What team, under every circumstance, was there never any cheering allowed for in the house on Sundays? I think you get it by now.
Still, with that, I’m a grown man and can respect the accomplishments of others. I’ll be the first to admit, often, that I’m an admirer of Bill Belichick and how he’s managed to work the system. Forget ‘Spygate’ and all of that other purported nonsense. The way that man has built an empire, built a system – on both sides of the ball – that flat-out works, is beautiful. He mastered the format used by few other teams (led by his protégés, not coincidentally) that puts in place a certain grading system for his scouts, requiring college-level evaluators to know the entire professional roster, and how player A from East Nowhere State could fit in amongst the fifty-three men currently in the locker room – and who he’d have to replace to do so. The offense he runs, with strong and gritty linemen, skill players you’ve never heard of, and one of the best quarterbacks to play the game – yeah, that’s admirable, too. His defenses have been lacking since the days Harrison, Bruschi, and Seymour roamed the gridiron, but considering he hasn’t finished lower than second in the division in twelve years (ten of those in first), it’s admissible.
Brady’s a whole different story. While I hate him – and that’s a strong word – in the realm of sports, and he’s probably one of the only players in all of football I can truly say that about, I still think he’s an amazing player. My tune has changed over the years about him. Whereas I used to dismiss any positivity regarding him with the words ‘system quarterback’ I have now long since realized that he has qualities that no system can give you. The guy is positively unflappable and incredible in the clutch. Even the greats before him looked to be in a panic when the pressure was on, but when Brady sees a linebacker closing in, he gets angry and (more often than not) tends to throw a touchdown pass in a display of how-did-he-do-that talent – all the while jawing at the defender who just wasn’t quick enough to get to him. When it’s not against Buffalo, I like to watch the guy play. Sorry if that makes me any less of a Bills fan, but I do.
Because of these reasons, and plenty more, I’d like to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick win another Lombardi Trophy. Legacies and reputations are big in this league, and these guys have two of the best of each. A fourth ring for the tandem would get Blair Buswell, the lead bust carver in Canton, to start in on his inevitable work a little quicker. Nobody ever thinks of it this way, but New England bringing the trophy home also means bringing it into the division. Now, the East looks better. Now, a victory means more. That, honestly, would sound better to me than any other headline :
Buffalo Bills defeat Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots
…doesn’t it just have that “hell yeah we did” ring to it?
Unfortunately, I don’t deal with Brady and Belichick on a daily basis. I do, however, deal with myriad Patriots fans. No other team in the league seems to do this, so I wonder why it is that the vast majority of Patriot ‘faithful’ whom I know and encounter (and I use faithful loosely as the bandwagon overfloweth) feel the need to act as though the team overcomes such incredible adversity with every victory? At the same time, is it necessary to remind other fans that their teams didn’t win (“Yeah, well how’s Buffalo doing?!” is a common one around here) after every victory for your good guys? Between being a good fan and being an insufferable sonofabitch, the line is very fine for many sports fans. Around here, that line is more than often blurred and ignored in favor of letting everyone know “Hey guys! I like a team that WON a football game, you scumbags!” when it comes to New England fans (some – not all). There’s a sense of homer goggles with every team’s fanbase, it’s unavoidable, but it seems to be the case tenfold with this club. Just this year alone, I’ve overheard fans proclaim that BenJarvus Green-Ellis (600 yards and a 3.7 YPC in 2011) is the best back in the league – that Chad Ochocinco (15 catches, 276 yards, 1 touchdown … in 15 games) is still one of the top number-one targets in the game, just waiting for his breakout game. Don’t even get me started on what trash was talked about the greatness contained within Albert Haynesworth (3 tackles in six games) before his release. Listen, I’m all for rooting for your team. I’m a huge supporter of it. I just don’t believe it’s necessary to berate other teams’ fans and act as though you don’t know what it’s like to win.
Let me clarify, again, that I’m not talking about every New England fan here. But this outburst of insatiable look-at-us attitude being displayed is absolutely ludicrous and looks bad on you all. I’m wise enough to know that not every Bills fan gets loaded before games – not every Eagles fan throws batteries at Santa – and not every Patriot fan rides jocks and talks down. Just remember, all it takes is one instance to change a view.
This rant may have died off after I started writing, but for Christ’s sake, guys, stay classy. I know I have a good number of New England fans who read this site, and most of you are clear-minded individuals who will look at this and laugh because you know just the type of fan I’m talking about. Then, there’s some of you who will look at this and get angry because, well, this is you.
Do me a favor? For the next two weeks (and if you want to be a really decent person, the rest of your football-watching life) act like you’ve been there before because, bandwagon or not, you have. Often.
Now, go enjoy these next two weeks without being a pain in our collective ass. Football fans across America thank you.