We hate the Patriots. By we, I mean the collective fanbase of the NFL who are fans of one of the other 31 franchises in the National Football League. As a Broncos fan, I take solace in knowing that we have had the pleasure (after the fact, but not during, because playing New England invokes a level of fear that is unexplainable) of beating Brady and the Patriots a few times in the playoffs during the last 17 years. For some, there is no such solace. Nonetheless in 2018 especially, anyone who is not a Pats fan is pretty much a Pats hater and are all operating as stand-in Eagles fans this weekend. Most of you know that already though, let’s try to break down why we, I, hate the Pats so much.
Just a few quick notes about how one realizes or recognizes when their hatred of a team has reached a serious place. I am a Broncos fan. In Super Bowl 48 we got TROUNCED by the Seahawks. It wasn’t pretty. It was one of the worst Super Bowls in the last two decades, it just wasn’t good. I decided I wasn’t going to watch the game in public because I couldn’t stand the thought of being ridiculed if we lost. Then the opening play of the game was a safety and in that moment I knew my team had lost already. Fast forward a year and the Broncos don’t make it to the Super Bowl. We end up with Seahawks Pats as the final game of the NFL year. I remember watching the final sequence of that game and feeling the anger swell as the Seahawks stupidly threw on a goal line play while having MARSHAWN FREAKING LYNCH on their team and being near apoplectic when the Pats won. It was in that moment that I realized that I was more angry about the Pats winning Super Bowl 49 than I was about my own team losing SB 48. Bear in mind that this was the year before Von Miller took us to the promised land and hand delivered us the SB 50 trophy. Fast forward another year and I realized that I was far more angry about the Pats winning SB 51 than I was happy about my own team WINNING A FREAKING SUPER BOWL.
So, to be clear, my Patriots hate is strong, and I am not alone.
These are NOT the Reasons
Before we get into why there is so much Pats hate, let’s dispel why Pats fans think we hate their team.
Every Pats fan loves to say some variation of “You hate us cus you ain’t us”. Stop it, please stop with that. I promise you, that is not a reason why we hate your stupid team and your coach and your stupid supermodel-wife-having douchebag QB Tom Brady.
You just hate us because our team has more rings, has Bill Belichick, has Tom Brady etc. Nope. Again, none of these are the reasons.
I can literally hear the bandwagon Pats fans now. Anyway, let’s move on.
Dynasty of Circumstance
One of the main reasons fans hate on the Pats is because the extremely circumstantial way that they have amassed their Super Bowl trophies.
2001 Season – On the road to Super Bowl XXXVI New England faced the Oakland Raiders in one of the snowiest games in history. Two things happened in this game that left Raider fans (and other NFL fans after the fact) upset at the outcome. First, the Tuck Rule. If you don’t know the story just google Tuck Rule Game and you’ll find all you need to know. All in all the Pats were granted another shot on what most people think should have been considered a fumble at the time. Second was the ability for Pats players to clear out a spot on the go ahead field goal that allowed them to win the game. When most fans look back at this those two moments stand out. Lost in that, but no lost on conspiracy theorists other NFL fans was the fact that this was the Super Bowl immediately following 9/11 and what better team to win the biggest game of the season than one named the Patriots. Go figure.
2003 Season – In Super Bowl XXXVIII New England didn’t have to face the number one or two seeds from the NFC – the Eagles or Rams who were quarterbacked by Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner respectively. Those teams were considered superior to the Panthers (the ultimate representative of the NFC in that year’s game) during the season and the Panthers were underdogs in both games. I mean, this team was lead by Jake Delhomme. Need I say more? Yes, it is not the Pats fault that the NFC shook out the way it did, but the possibility of a revenge game from St. Louis or the Eagles first Super Bowl in forever seemed far more likely a path to defeat for New England. The NFC wasn’t the only side of the coin to disappoint. Indianapolis led by star QB Peyton Manning also wet the bed as their high-powered offense was ground to a halt by the New England defense with three INTs by Manning and only 14 points scored by the offense. This was also when the tide started to turn against New England.
2004 Season – Ahhh, Philly. After finally making it to the Super Bowl (this was XXXIX) Philadelphia ran out of time in the fourth quarter and allowed New England to escape with its third Super Bowl win in 4 years. The seeds were definitely planted and being watered for the eventual napalm of Pats hate. Nonetheless, Andy Reid screwed the pooch with the team’s time management on offense in the fourth quarter (a thought WWE’s Michael Cole would now call vintage) and left his team with almost no time to complete the comeback and get the win. This is further complicated by the valiant-while-injured effort of Terrell Owens and the rumors that McNabb vomited in the huddle towards the end of the game. Philly was the team that let New England complete the three titles in four years last time around, all Pats haters are praying for a different outcome this time.
2007 and 2011 Seasons – Peak Pats hate (which has lasted a solid 11 years since it started in earnest) began with the revelation that New England had been caught taping teams signals (including St. Louis’ before their first SB win). This is also the moment that fans became wondering about conspiracies as the league destroyed all the tapes rather than expose the full nature of the scandal and the depth that the cheating may have extended to. I remember all of the key moments of these two Super Bowls – the Helmet catch, the Plaxico catch in the end zone, the Manningham catch – all of them. These were two great seasons to be Pats haters. (This is also why the Jags were truly every Pats haters dream opponent in these playoffs they are lead by executive Tom Coughlin, the coach of the Giants during New England’s two SB losses). This scandal (and the lack of Super Bowls between 2007 and 2015) led fans to be convinced that New England had only won their first three Super Bowls because of circumstance.
2014 and 2016 Seasons – Screw Pete Carroll and screw Dan Quinn and Arthur Blank. These games for all intents and purposes should have been the Pats third and fourth SB losses. But Pete Carroll got cute on the goal line in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and passed the ball instead of handing off to MARSHAWN FREAKING LYNCH.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Dan Quinn decided it was wiser to throw the ball than let his dominant running back tandem bleed clock and leave New England with as little time as possible to complete their comeback. Look, stupid coaching happens all the time, and particularly against this team but when you consider how fortuitous New England has been over the years, it is difficult to accept it. And this is before you even get to the scandals.
Fans of every other team are partly angry and frustrated with the Pats run of success because of the culture of cheating that seems to surround the team. In 2007 former Patriots assistant coach Eric Mangini tipped off the league to the Pats stealing signals from other teams. In due course it was found that the team had indeed done that and that there was evidence that showed that one of the teams/games that they had recorded signals for was the Rams in the leadup to Super Bowl 36. When you add that to the fact that Brady and Belichick went from 2004 to 2014 without another Super Bowl victory and we are all willing to believe that the team was only capable of winning when cheating.
I won’t get into Deflategate because I admit that that was a lot over mostly nothing and because I think everyone was wrong for going at New England in that way. This Pats team in this iteration has long been one that takes slights/attacks against it personally and it further amps up their performance. In my opinion it’s plausible that had Deflategate not happened, had the Brady suspension never occurred, the Pats may have only ended up with one additional trophy in the last three years instead of the two that they got.
This speaks to both the team’s top player and the team’s bandwagon fans. Let me start by saying this – any Pats fan who was a fan of the team prior to the first and/or Brady SB win I am relatively ok with. Guys like Bill Simmons who grew up in Boston and are natural longtime fans I am also okay with. Simmons can be a touch overbearing sometimes, but at least he is mostly honest about his team’s weaknesses as much as its strengths. So fans of the Simmons variety I have no issue with. The fans that annoy me are the ones who jumped to being Pats fan after that first or second victory and have just been riding the wave of cheating, excellent coaching and that system for 17 years. It’s this particular brand of fan that tends to be the most obnoxious and arrogant of all. When you are a longtime fan of a team that mostly stinks and is usually not in contention for Super Bowls year in and year out, you tend to learn how to be honest about your team.
Case in point, Denver is two years removed from its last Super Bowl win. However, I know that without solid QB and O Line play this great defense that we have will continue to be wasted in the aftermath of that season. I am honest about my team. I became a Broncos fan after the first Super Bowl win in 97/98. I loved the way Elway played. Terrell Davis was awesome. Shannon Sharpe was funny and outspoken. Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith just did their jobs. After those two seasons I suffered through Bubby Brister, Brian Griese, post-prime Jake Plummer, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, McDaniels running young Jay Cutler out of Denver, and most recently the triumvirate of Brock Osweiller, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. That’s three Super Bowls in 20 years with a whole lot of mediocrity in between. I have earned my Broncos fandom and know when we are legit contenders and when we just going with the flow. These spoiled Pats fans, however, who have had the benefit of this Pats dynasty where their favorite team has been in the Super Bowl in 8 of the last 17 seasons are a particularly annoying bunch because they act like they were fans before this stretch of success. But we know the truth, especially Bahamians, most of these Bahamian Pats fans will be off the bandwagon within a season or two of Brady and Belichick’s departures.
I was going to talk about Brady’s arrogance here, but I just can’t stomach doing the research to do it. I’ll put it this way that California boy charm and fake smile and supermodel wife and snarky, whiny behavior when his team struggles, his penchant for tantrums etc. – Tom Brady is a douchebag. I like to compare him to Randy Orton. Found himself in the right spot, had the look and sufficient talent to succeed but always appear to be an insufferable dude unless you are close friends with him. I don’t like the guy, I think he’s an ass hole. I really can’t say anything else.
Brady Got Lucky
Tom Brady is the luckiest guy in the history of football. That is not to take away from his actual talents on the football field. I am not saying that he doesn’t have the skills etc. to succeed at the game. However, if Bledsoe hadn’t gotten injured, or if Bledsoe had to lead that team in the Super Bowl because Brady couldn’t make it back healthy in that 2001 playoffs, or if this team didn’t have stable ownership, or if Belichick wasn’t the coach for his entire career in New England, if any one or two of those things are different, would Brady have had the same success? If we swapped Brady to the Colts and Manning to the Pats would Brady still have won the amount of Super Bowls he has? Would Manning have won more for Belichick? Again, not denying the talent, but Brady’s success does somewhat go back to the idea of being in the right place at the right time.
If you ask me, Belichick is the true architect and most important component to the success of this team. He is standoffish and guarded and a bit of a gruff personality within the confines of his job. But the man has put together coaching masterpiece after masterpiece in game after game over the years and his skill and success cannot be denied. Look at what he did with Jimmy G during Brady’s suspension. His eye for talent and knack for developing players and getting teams to continually buy into the Patriot Way (which is really the Belichick way) is the true cornerstone of the success of this team. I don’t hate Belichick, I don’t even dislike him. He is the one part of the Pats organization that I envy and wish my team could emulate. I respect the hell out of his coaching acumen. But this is why it makes it difficult for me to respect Brady because it feels like had Belichick had any of Brady’s contemporaries instead the team would not have been any worse or any different because he knows how to put his players in position to succeed.
The Fear of the Inevitable
Watching a Pats game as a Pats hater is an increasingly frustrating experience. The most anxious games I have watched have usually been big games in which I wanted the Pats to lose. This is just a fact. I reveled in the Giants two SB wins and was crushed by the Seahawks and Falcons losses. The problem with this team is that it feels inevitable. When Jacksonville was up 10 in the fourth quarter two weeks ago, everyone knew that the legit possibility existed for Jacksonville to falter in some way and for New England capitalize and find a way to pull out the W. In that game it was the discrepancy in penalty calls and Jacksonville’s inability to move the ball in the game’s waning moments. We all saw it, we all knew it, we were prepared – at least I was.
All I know is, the Pats haven’t lost until the clock hits triple zeros. We should all know this by now. So in every big game, it’s the same process – especially some of the last few ones where teams have gotten ahead on the Pats – you hope that either the opponent builds a big enough lead that is impossible (looking at Jags but especially Falcons) to overcome or that they hang around long enough to have a shot to win on a last drive situation (looking at Pittsburgh against New England during this past regular season). The problem with these circumstances is that unless you’re up 30 with under 5 minutes to go in a game, no lead, no situation is safe or comfortable.
Wrap it up
As a Boston Red Sox fan (blame Bill Simmons circa 2002/3), I know there are a number of other reasons such as the litany of championships the Boston/New England area has experienced dating back to 2001 – 5 Super Bowl wins, 3 World Series wins, 1 NBA title, and 1 Stanley cup – that also come into play with the regional hate.
That may not apply so much here. Bahamian fans typically fall into two groups, the ones who support teams closest to The Bahamas – the Heats, the Dolphins – and the ones who bandwagon – looking at Steelers and Cowboy fans, Yankees fans, Celtic fans who became Laker fans who became Bulls fans etc., Cavs fans and new age Warrior fans are also included.
Overall, I just want Brady to lose. This is my mantra every time the Pats end up in the Super Bowl. Just lose baby. Hopefully the NFC East is able to produce another team capable of beating New England the way the Giants did.
The sad and unfortunate truth is that Patriots haters might be just the thing that keeps that team going. They feed off our negative energy. They thrive on the the good karma that comes to them because there is so much hate spewed towards them. Does this mean that I will be any less hateful this weekend? Nope. Does this mean that I will not scream for someone to knock Brady off his feet over and over again? Nope. I recognize that I may in my own small way be a part of the reason this team keeps thriving. Too bad…