Welcome back to Living Inside Enemy Lines. My name is Matthew Bassin, I’m about to turn 30 (same birthday as Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, Tommy Moe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and…. ugh… Paris Hilton), I’m a lifelong Laker and Piston fan and am currently living in the city of their most hated rivals, Boston.
This is a multi-part story about what it’s like to live in this city, from a sports point of view. If you haven’t read parts 1 and/or 2, then you’re going to be confused, so go read those and then come back.
Welcome back. I’ve already covered the Origin and the Boston Red Sox. Next up is the team that almost was the greatest ever, and almost just won another title. The New England Patriots.
As far as my feelings go for the Pats, I really don’t have any animosity toward them. I rooted for them against the St. Louis Rams in 2001, have always liked Wes Welker, Teddy Bruschi is an Arizona Wildcat (my Alma Mater) and have felt blessed to watch Tom Brady do what he does. (I’m the kind of guy that appreciates Legendary greatness in all sports, and I’ve been fortunate to see a few per sport in my almost 30 years on this planet. And yes, Tom Brady is Legendary greatness, but more on that later.)
The New England Patriots have been one of, if not the best NFL franchise in the last 11 years. They have gone to 5 Super Bowls, winning 3. They completed a 16-game season with a perfect 16-0 record in 2007. They have one of the greatest coaches, Quarterbacks and Quarterback-coaching combo’s ever.
And just like with the Boston Red Sox… It’s not good enough for some folks in this town.
The 2011 season has just recently come to an end, with the New York Giants defeating the Pats 21-17 in Super Bowl XLIV… no, XVLI…. no… LIVX… dammit! Super Bowl 46.
The Patriots were the No. 1 seed in the AFC, dismantling the upstart Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round, outlasting the vaunted Baltimore Ravens in the Championship round, and coming within a Wes Welker/Deion Branch/Aaron Hernandez catch in the 4th quarter of winning their 4th Super Bowl in 11 years.
But the passes all missed, regardless of fault, and the Giants marched down, just like in 2007, and broke the hearts of Patriots fans throughout New England.
And here come the fans…
"Trade Brady AND Welker"
Are you freakin kidding me?! You want to get rid of a man who just finished a season where he threw for 5,235 yards (Surpassing Dan Marino’s record and second only to Drew Brees), 39 TDs and completed 66% of his passes. And you want to dump the NFL’s LEADING RECEIVER. Who caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards, which is an average of just about 100 yards a game.
"But they choked in the Super Bowl…"
BUT YOU GOT TO THE SUPER BOWL!
I heard a great line while watching NFL Network’s Top 10 (great show btw). “You want to know why there are so many great players who never played in a Super Bowl? BECAUSE IT’S HARD TO GET THERE.”
Now, maybe I’m missing something, because I’m a fan of the Detroit Lions and the closest we’ve come to a Super Bowl is HOSTING it in 2005. But I’ll tell you this, IF my Lions ever make it to the final Sunday of the NFL season, something all 32 teams dream of doing, yet only 2 per year get to do, I’ll spend the entire game celebrating (not to mention laughing my ass off) that they even got there!
But expectations are higher in the city of Boston. Simply getting to the final game is not good enough. They cannot sit back and enjoy the fact that Tom Brady has treated them to 11 years of shear BRILLIANCE at the Quarterback position. In his decade-plus run, Tom has never had a losing season, has never completed less than 60% of his passes, has never thrown for more than 14 picks (that’s less than 1 per game for his CAREER), and is 5th all-time in TDs with 300.
When you look at the greatest QBs of all-time, the majority of them had a Wide Receiver that also did a fair share of the legwork. With Joe Montana, you have Jerry Rice 6’2” (Greatest Receiver of all-time, duh). With John Elway, you have Shannon Sharpe 6’2” (ok, he’s a TE, but he’s one of the top-3 of all-time). With Dan Marino, you have the Marks Brothers (Mark Clayton and Mark Duper). With Peyton Manning, you have Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne (both 6-feet tall).
All of these combos had receivers (or TEs) that caught for over 1000 yards many, many times in their career.
With Tom Brady, here are his receivers throughout his career: Troy Brown 5’10” (ONE season of over 1000 yards receiving), David Givens 6’0” (maybe) (never caught for 1000 yards), Deion Branch 5’9” (reached 998 yards in 2005, that’s his highest). With those 3 receivers, he won THREE Super Bowls in FOUR years.
Then Randy Moss and Wes Welker came into the fold and Brady went DUMB. (That’s a good thing for you older readers) He threw for 50 TDs and only 8 interceptions, averaging 300 yards a game and a QB rating of 117.2. Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions and Randy Moss broke Jerry Rice’s record, catching 23 TDs for the season. (One more than Rice did in a lockout-shorted 14 game season).
Flash forward to this past season, a season where offense was king, and defense was non-existent (except for San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston). Welker led the NFL in receptions with 122 for over 1500 yards, 2nd year TE Aaron Hernandez had over 900 yards receiving, and other 2nd year TE Rob Gronkowski set NFL records with 17 TDs (most ever by a TE) and caught for over 1300 yards.
Who throws over 2200 yards to his Tight Ends?! Tom Brady does.
And he’s taken this team to the post season almost every year he’s played. They are being called the New York Yankees of the NFL. Last I checked, the Yankees got their reputation because they won… A LOT. And so do the Patriots. 124-35… That’s the record for the Pats with Brady at the helm.
35 losses for his career in the regular season… over 10 years of playing… PFFFFT…. My Lions lost more than that in a 3 year span! (2001-2003, 38 losses), (2004-2006, 34 losses), and (2008-2010, 40 losses) JUST TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE.
What is it about being so good for so long that people end up taking it for granted? Now don’t think it’s like this for EVERY Patriots fan out in Boston, I’m sure some of them can actually appreciate what they have before they lose it. But for the most part, the fans here are ridiculous about this team… just like with the Sox.
A loss means the system is broken, the coach is getting old, the QB has lost his star-power, and an entire overhaul is necessary.
This is just not the case. Only ONE team wins the Super Bowl every year, and it is damn hard to get there, let alone win it. Ask the Buffalo Bills. And the Patriots have been there 7 times in their history, with 5 of those times coming in the last 11 years. And it was almost more… rememeber 4th-and-2 against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game?
The point is, this team is a fantastic example of greatness over a lengthy period of time. They should be celebrated and should be allowed to celebrate the fact that they just went to another Super Bowl. (Yes, people are upset that Gronkowski and Matt Light were dancing at a NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PARTY, after the Super Bowl. They just finished a grueling season and came up just short in a very tight Championship game. Get a life people.)
I’m baffled by some of the comments I hear daily about this team and how to fix it… You came up 4 points short in the Super Bowl. Not much to fix.
At least with the Red Sox there was a real reason to bitch. But with the Pats, it just makes no sense. 13-3 in the regular season, No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, a young defense that gave up yards and not points, and a top-4 offense in a very, very offense-happy league. Oh, and you also WENT TO THE SUPER BOWL. Good call Boston fans.
No wonder Tom Brady lives in California…
****COMING SOON, WE DROP THE PUCK ON PART 4 OF LIVING INSIDE ENEMY LINES****