Am I wrong to think that the split-second Adam Vinatieri’s kick sailed through the uprights to beat the Panthers, New England Patriots fans should have been required to surrender their tinfoil hats? I’m more than willing to give them the first Super Bowl because it was followed by a season where they did not make the playoffs. Combine that with the sheer shock of them beating the mighty Rams and it certainly did look like a one time miracle.
Then they won the second Super Bowl in three years. Followed, of course, by number three. At that point it had become obvious that this was not only not a fluke, but this was the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever seen. Five more Super Bowl appearances and two more victories later, it seems like the time has come, passed, and then come again for New England fans let go of their conspiracy theories.
After college I lived out west for three years. When I moved home to New England I was shocked by how dead-set talk radio and fans in Boston were in their whole-hearted belief that Roger Goodell was out to get them. Then Deflategate happened and it really got out of control. I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who is confused by anti-Goodell merchandise being sold outside of not just Patriot’s games, but Red Sox and Celtics games as well. I can’t wrap my mind around watching your favorite team dominate for two decades, whilst simultaneously believing there is a massive conspiracy against them.
I can remember meeting someone for the first time the night before the 2015 AFC Championship Game. As the conversation turned to the game (and I foolishly prepared to discuss in-game strategy), they told me rather matter of factly that they were concerned the refs would screw the Patriot’s over.
I was so befuddled I couldn’t respond even as they went on to inform me that the Patriots were 0-6 in games refereed by Ed Hochuli. This was a stat they had heard on the radio. I didn’t want to be rude, so I said nothing. I wanted, however, to scream, “why would someone take the time to look that up? And, as follow up, why do you care?!?”
I have to stop myself. I’m getting into rant mode and that is not what I want to do. Let me make a few things clear. This is not something that all Patriot’s fans do, it’s not even most of them. What makes it frustrating is that the cohort of people who do believe this line of logic (if you can call it that) are the loudest fans and far too many of the local media members. That is a combination that can make it mind alteringly painful to watch a Patriot’s game in a bar.
It also gives the fans, many of whom are friends that I actually do enjoy watching the game with, a really bad name. So, friends, please do not think I’m talking about you here. You know the kind of fan I’m talking about. The one who removes all the fun from Sunday football and replaces it with complicated explanations of how every penalty is somehow engineered by Goodell.
For those fans, I have two things to say. One, please, please, please just shut up. Please. I’m literally (technically figuratively) begging you to shut up. You’re why I have to hide in my house during games. Two, you’re wasting so much time in your 1984-esque fantasy world, that you’re missing the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever, and probably will ever, see. Can’t you just appreciate that? Can’t you appreciate what a brilliant coach Bill Belichick is? Or just how great Tom Brady is?
The more you yell about conspiracy’s, the more you make other fans focus on the perceived negatives of both men. I’m not saying Belichick doesn’t deserve some crap for the way he interacts with the press and the cloud of secrecy does exist in Foxboro, but both of these stories are exacerbated by this never ending “the league is out to get us” rhetoric. Please stop letting that be the case. Please appreciate what you have before it is too late.
That is my plea and that is where I leave you. But, before I do. Consider the following: I am a Browns fan. Over the past two decades the Patriots have won five Super Bowls. The Browns won zero games this past season, giving them a total of one win in the Hue Jackson era. This was bottoming out of two decades of punishing futility that all started when the Browns left Cleveland in 1995. The coach that was coming off his first playoff appearance the year before? Bill Belichick.