New England vs. Time

“Please understand that the Eagles aren’t the good guys in the story.  There is an interesting duality to Eagles fans:  many of them present themselves with a Boston-like sense of entitlement and accomplishment despite the fact that their favorite team is essentially the Cincinnati Bengals with better PR.” – A Steelers Fan.

During the AFC Championship Game, a friend and fellow New England Patriots fan texted “To be honest, I won’t be heartbroken if the pats lose this game.  Brady got his legacy last year, and I like Jags owner.”  I don’t really know anything about Shahid Khan, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner, but a part of me still understands his sentiment.  The Patriots have won five Super Bowls, eight AFC Championships, and 20 AFL/AFC East division titles.  The Jaguars have never played in a Super Bowl thanks to three AFC Championship losses and have only won three AFC Central/South division titles.  If the Patriots are going to lose then why not do it to a team like the Jaguars?

Or, for that matter, the Eagles?  I’m not sure the Eagles are essentially the Bengals with better PR but neither has won a Super Bowl.  Shoot.  The Patriots won a Super Bowl at the Eagles’ expense back in 2005.  I vaguely remember my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Allen, saying something about it being fair to share.  Yet, I’m not sure the Patriots “sharing” a Super Bowl win with the Eagles is what she meant.  Is it because of that “Boston-like sense of entitlement and accomplishment” the Steelers fan mentioned?

Honestly.  I don’t think so.  In fact, I think it’s the exact opposite.  The Patriots didn’t win anything before the Brady-Belichick era.  They were essentially the Bengals too:  two Super Bowls trps with zero Super Bowl wins.  Equally important, they may essentially be the Bengals again once Brady and Belichick are gone.  Or.  Worse.  They may essentialy be the Bengals again once Brady or Belichick are gone.  This is not a Patriots run.  This is a Brady and Belichick run.

In other words, I don’t feel feel entitled; I feel insecure.  It’s what distinguishes the Patriots’ success from, say, the New York Yankees.  The Yankees have won World Series with a number of different players and managers.  And they have won a lot.  Since 1920, the Yankees have won at least two World Series Championships in every decade except the 1980s and 2010s.  Their fans have reason to feel entitled.

If you want a football equivalent then look no further than the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the most in the NFL.  They have also won with different quarterbacks and coaches.  Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls between 1975 and 1980.  Ben Roethlisberger won two more:  one with Bill Cowher in 2006 and one with Mike Tomlin in 2009.  Steelers fans have reason to feel entitled too.

Patriots fans?  Not so much.  Think I’m being pessimistic?  Every team that has won multiple Super Bowls has won with different quarterback-coach combinations except two:  the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins won two Super Bowls with Bob Griese and Don Shula.  Their last win was in 1974.  In the 44 years since, they have played in two Super Bowls and lost both.  That kind of sounds like the Bengals, doesn’t it?

So why do most fans root against the Patriots more than they do against the Steelers?  The Patriots’ five Super Bowl wins were in a 16 year period.  The Steelers’ six wins were in a 34 year period.  Time heals all wounds.  Unfortunately, the Patriots are racing against time.  If you haven’t heard, Brady has a “docuseries” out called “Tom vs. Time.”  Belichick will turn 66 this year.  So with all due respect to Mrs. Allen, I’m not sure sharing is particularly fair in this instance.

Besides.  I’ve heard that Eagles fans have a sense of entitlement and accomplishment despite the fact that their favorite team is essentially the Bengals with better PR.  Who wants to root for that?