As I watched the New England Patriots dissect the Houston Texans yesterday for the second time in a little more than a month, I was suddenly struck by a horrible thought: there was no team left in the NFL’s tournament that I would want to see win the Super Bowl. This was a disheartening thought. Worse, as there was no team left to root for, it meant that there was also no team to root against.
Consider, if either Atlanta or San Francisco wins the Super Bowl, the bandwagon fans that will come crawling out of the woodwork will make the Boston Red Sox pink-hatters look like legitimate fans. Baltimore (and the NFL) keep harping on the fact that this is Ray Lewis’ last ride through the post-season in an attempt to drum up more fan support for Lewis as he (hopefully) disappears from the public eye. Jacynth Baker and Richard Lollar were unavailable for comment, but I know that I could never cheer for a franchise that willfully chooses to employ Ray Lewis, so they’re out.
Which leaves only the New England Patriots. Theoretically, pulling for them to win their 4th Super Bowl should be an easy call, even as a fan of the NY Giants. Bill Belichick is a top-notch coach who cut his teeth as an NFL coach under the tutelage of Bill Parcells, who in my estimation is the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. Belichick’s genius was on full display when he devised the game plan that allowed the NY Giants to slip by the Buffalo Bills’ high-powered offense in Super Bowl XXV. He also holds the world’s greatest press conferences, because his contempt for the media and their mostly moronic questions is the way that all coaches should handle the press.
From an organizational standpoint, the way the Patriots franchise is run from top to bottom should serve as a model for all other franchises, not just in the NFL, but in all sports. The team and its success is always more important than the individual, and if a player is unable to handle that, Belichick is only too glad to send him packing.
Still, I can’t root for the Patriots.
This wasn’t always the case. In years gone by, as someone who lived in Massachusetts, the Patriots were the default option to root for in the post-season once the Giants had faltered. As recently as Super Bowl XXXVIII, when they battled the Carolina Panthers, it was my hope that they would win, and that the fans of New England could rejoice in another Super Bowl title.
That was the last time that I’ve ever hoped they would win, however, and the reason for that is quite simple: large parts of their fan base are simply intolerable. I know, it’s amazing that a Boston-based sports team would have a fan base that is hard to deal with, but I swear it’s true. Patriot fans grew so pompous, that even the thought of them winning another Super Bowl title is enough to make me sick.
My perception of the Patriots and their fans likely mirrors much of the rest of the country’s feelings towards the Boston Red Sox and their fans. The strong dislike for all things Red Sox was something that I have had a hard time wrapping my head around, perhaps because of how much the Red Sox mean to me as a fan. I have too many strong emotions tied up with the Red Sox and whether or not they do well, that I can’t look at them with open eyes, I can’t see the sins they’ve committed.
With the Patriots fan base, it’s easy for me to spot their flaws, because I’m an outsider. I can look at the Patriots fans, and be just as disgusted with them as Cleveland, Tampa (I’m just kidding, there aren’t really any Rays’ fans), and most of the rest of MLB fans are disgusted with Sox fans. I completely understand where they’re coming from now (I think), although I suppose the dislike of the Red Sox starts at the franchise level, whereas (at least for me) the dislike of the Patriots is really more geared to their fans’ attitude. I feel bad lumping all Patriots’ fans together, because I’ve met and know many fans who are not like that. However, they’re all together for good or ill.
The only plus to Patriots winning a 4th Super Bowl this century would be pointing out to their fans that until they beat the Giants, none of their success means anything. In a post-season with some many unlikeable teams, that may be all that I have to cling to.
Who’s your pick for Super Bowl XLVII?
Let me know: