I think it’s time for a Come-To-Jesus moment with the national sports media who continue to slobber all over the New England Patriots, hailing them as the most awesomest team everrrr! If you watched yesterday’s AFC Championship game, you know what I’m talking about. Even Tom Brady’s peculiar Ty Cobb-esque slide is not greeted with “is he trying to spike someone?” But rather, “you gotta be careful there, that’s where YOU’LL get hurt for extending your leg.” Wha???
The national sports media has viewed the NFL through New England-colored glasses since about 2001 and it’s high time to remove the blinders.
There’s no question the Patriots are one of the most successful franchises in the NFL for more than a decade. Five Super Bowls, three championships and a ridiculous record of regular season success earns respect. But respect is different than the breathless sycophancy exuded by too many NFL commentators.
Do they, or anyone else, realize New England hasn’t won a championship since the 2004 season? Yes, they were the most dominant team at that moment, winning three of four Super Bowls.
Since then? The Patriots are 8-7 in the postseason, including going 2-3 in conference championships and 0-2 in Super Bowls. Yes, in 2007, they were the first team to go 16-0 since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. But they lost the Super Bowl. And they lost it again last year.
In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a more impressive postseason record in that same stretch, going 9-3 in the playoffs and winning two out of three Super Bowls. The Baltimore Ravens, who are going to this year’s Super Bowl, are 8-5 in the same stretch. We have to wait a couple weeks to see if they get a ring.
Of all the AFC teams to go to the Super Bowl since 2004, the Patriots are only better than the Indianapolis Colts, who have a 6-6 postseason record (1-1 in Super Bowls). While the Colts did enjoy a great deal of accolade during the Peyton Manning Era, the everlasting media hullaballoo around #18 is “can’t win the big one.”
I’m fine with that criticism of Manning. What I wonder is why doesn’t New England’s #12 get the same treatment? After all, he hasn’t won it all since the Pats were exposed in the infamous “Spygate” scandal. Yet you’ll never hear a national media figure discuss Brady’s inability to win it all for eight years (and counting).
Like the Patriots, four NFL franchises—Green Bay, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Pittsburgh—have made multiple trips to the Super Bowl over the past eight seasons. The key difference? Each of those teams has won at least once.
The point is New England is still a very good team. But it’s high time national media move past the 2004 season and view the Pats through a more holistic lens.
I won’t hold my breath.