Well I guess that was just about the greatest Superbowl of at least the last decade. It made me happier than even watching my beloved Steelers win a couple of years ago. Could it be that I hate the New England Patriots more than I like the Steelers? Perhaps, but then there’s so much to hate. And this isn’t some kind of buzzkill hatred about the Pats’ amazing season: if any other team had their results, even with the same players, I would welcome them with open arms and call them my brothers. No, a team one dislikes, performing excellently makes for a despised team, and so it is here.
I stared hating on the Pats in the 2000 season. Back then, a few friends and I would pick an AFC and NFC team to root for during the season, to make things a little more interesting. While a Steelers fan, I picked the Oakland Raiders for my AFC team and the St. Louis Rams for the NFC (it’s just a coincidence that they are both former Los Angeles teams). Anybody familiar with that season will be aware of the source of my chagrin. Those teams, and my Steelers, did very well during regular season, and I won the contest with my friends quite easily. However, the stupid Pats beat the Raiders in the playoffs, and clinched the AFC championship in a match with the Steelers when Kordell Stewart passed to someone on the wrong team in the dying minutes. I hated that. Then the Pats beat the Rams in the Superbowl to add insult to injury. When you factor in stuff like the post-Sept. 11 ‘we’re America’s team (fuck yeah)’ business and their killing off of the awesome Superbowl run-out, wherein every player gets introduced (‘let’s run out as a team instead. Yeah, solidarity!’), we have a pretty decent case for the prosecution.
So that was the start of the Pats being a great team. And that was a trend that was never more blatant than this season just ended. For those unaware, they went unbeaten through regular season. I don’t know what was more scary: the fact that they started off hammering teams by scoring 40+ points on them, or the games they nearly lost but made insane comebacks to win. Let’s face it, both patterns made them look pretty unbeatable. The only team historically that has gone through a season undefeated (since the birth of the modern NFL, in 1970) was the 1972 Miami Dolphins and, as much as I dislike the ‘Fins, I’d have hated the Pats being elevated to that level.
Playoffs came and went, and possible threats to the Pats’ seeming destiny – like the Indiannapolis Colts, or Brett Favre and his Merry Band of Green Bay Packers, though the Pats beat the Colts during the season anyway – fell by the wayside. My friends and I all became very sad, as the Giants weren’t a fantastic team. Long story short (anybody still reading this drivel will already know what happened in the Superbowl), the Giants managed to win a very tight game 17-14 at the very end of a ridiculously exciting fourth quarter and the household I was watching in went completely bonkers at about 3A.M. Just wanted to mention that, really.