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View Full Version : It's Better to be Michael Corleone than Fredo (Patriots Related)


Amnorix
01-19-2007, 11:11 AM
I cannot begin to describe just how perfectly the Sports Guy captures the average Boston sports fan. I found his article today to be pretty terrific. My favorite line wasn't even Pats related:

I can't believe how terrifying it was to pick the Bears (-8.5) last Sunday, then ride the Rex Grossman Roller Coaster for the next 210 minutes. My father summed it up best: "How do the Bears fans do it? I don't even care who wins this game and he's about to give me a heart attack."

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070119

I'll post the part about the Pats (including the Michael/Fredo comment) in the next post.

Amnorix
01-19-2007, 11:12 AM
After one of the greatest victories in Patriots history, after one of the defining Sundays of the Belichick-Brady Era, after an absolute roller-coaster ride of a win, after one of the more memorable they-had-absolutely-no-business-winning-that-thing games in recent memory, I turned the television off, pulled off an awkward high-five with my father and waited for the phone to ring.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Nothing. None of my friends called. My mom never called. None of my editors called. I even checked the ringer on our phone to make sure it was working. Yup. It was working. I jumped online and only two friends had sent along their congratulations (mainly because they had both wagered on the Pats). That was it. I briefly zoomed through reader e-mails and was shocked to see the same three themes over and and over again: either "You guys are so freaking lucky," "The Chargers freaking choked" or "Just kill me, now I have to sit through another freaking week of Pats-Colts hype."

At this point, I was starting to get bummed out. How could people not appreciate an undermanned, banged-up underdog that persevered simply by playing well together, by being well-coached and well-prepared, by pulling off all the Little Things and by believing in one another and steadfastly trusting they could pull out any close game? How could people not appreciate Troy Brown's supernatural strip of Marlon McCree (one of the greatest heads-up plays in Boston sports history), or Brady's slogging through a dog-crap game and having the balls to zing that ridiculously clutch throw to Reche Caldwell on the winning drive? How could they fail to be impressed that Belichick and the Pats knocked off a 16-1 team, a 16-2 team, a 15-3 team, a 14-2 team, a 14-3 team and a 14-4 team over the past five Januarys?

Then I realized something horrible.

Wait a second ... am I rooting for the football version of the Yankees?

I felt like Steve Martin realizing he was white in "The Jerk." And the thing is, I could see this coming for three years. People expect the Patriots to pull out close games. They're bored of watching it happen. They're tired of Patriots players and fans playing the "nobody believed in us" card. They're tired of writers and talking heads breaking out the popsicles for Brady and Belichick every January. It's becoming a formula -- nobody thinks the Pats can pull it off, the odds are impossible, MY GOD THEY DID IT AGAIN! -- which is unfortunate because formulas become boring pretty quickly.

Still, if the Pats really have turned into the football Yankees, then everyone outside of New England believes that ...

A. Rooting for the Patriots is like rooting for the house in blackjack.

B. An entire generation of fledgling NFL fans is being raised to root against them as we speak.

Just writing those last two sentences gave me the Manning Face. How could this be? How did we get here?

Like every other Boston fan, I grew up hating the Yankees, Canadiens, Steelers and Cowboys. My teams always lost, those teams always won, and I despised them with every fiber in my body. When our luck changed and the Celtics started competing for NBA titles again -- even winning three -- America never galvanized against them because Bird was so popular. Only recently did everyone come to loathe one of my teams: the post-2004 Red Sox, with the oversaturation of the "We finally did it!" angle. And I can't blame them. Looking back, everything after October '04 spiralled out of control faster than the street brawl in "Anchorman." The celebration carried on too long, too much was written (yes, I include myself), too many people had too much to say, bandwagon fans oozed out of the woodwork, and by the time everything was said and done, I think Curt Schilling killed a guy.

So yes, I can see how America turned on the Sox. But the Patriots??? I keep thinking of the scene in "Godfather: Part II" when Michael's sister urges him to forgive Fredo and calls Fredo "sweet and helpless." Umm, that was the Patriots! For like 40 years! As I have detailed in the past, they were always the undisputed black sheep of the Boston sports scene. At no point from 1960 to 2001 did any Patriots fan EVER think to himself, "Some day, this will all be worth it ... we're going to hire the best coach alive, find the best big-game QB alive, win three Super Bowls, become known as 'the team that just keeps winning,' break the hearts of fans across the league and, eventually, we'll turn into first-class villains and everyone will hate us and complain that we won't go away." That never happened. We were more worried that the Patriots would actually go away, that they'd bolt for another city (like L.A. or St. Louis) and never come back.

Now we're on six years of football euphoria. And I get the part where the outside world is ready for another team, because that's the way our society works now: We embrace something new, digest it, beat it into the ground and move on to something else. One minute, "Borat" is the greatest comedy of all-time; the next minute, it's overrated. One minute, everyone loves "Lost"; the next minute, we're wondering if it jumped the shark. One minute, everyone loves The Killers; the next minute, they're self-important sellouts. It's the Everything Sucks Era. We spend an inordinate amount of time bitching about everyone else. Nobody's good, nobody's worthwhile and everybody needs to go away. That's the prevailing theme. And after their third Super Bowl victory, the Patriots entered the "all right, you guys can go away now, you've ceased to be interesting" stage of their run, where we've been stuck for the past two seasons. I'm sure the players and coaches don't care, but for the fans, it's been bittersweet and even a little discouraging. If you can't appreciate THIS team, even as an impartial observer, what does that say about the future of sports?

Consider how the Patriots are getting it done. They operate under a vexing salary cap and don't outspend everyone. They don't have any self-promoting a-holes doing sack dances or touchdown dances, they haven't been whistled for any substance abuse violations, and as far as I can recall, not a single Patriot filmed a commercial this season. Since 2001, they've gone 70-28 in the regular season and 12-1 in the playoffs drafting in the bottom half of the first round and avoiding any big-money free agent signings except for Rosevelt Colvin. They consistently find rookie sleepers, craft inspired game plans, excel in close games and thrive on doing the Little Things. Out of those 12 playoff wins, at least six left the other team muttering, "Dammit, how did we blow that game?" Only once did the Patriots ever return the favor.

On paper, I'm not sure how they're still chugging along. Their star quarterback has been pounded like Mick Foley in his prime. Their lead running back probably couldn't outsprint Eddy Curry to a hot dog truck. Their best receiver was unemployed three months ago. They don't have a single gamebreaker on the offensive side. They don't start a single top-12 draft pick except for Richard Seymour, who doubles as their only Pro Bowler. Their linebacking corps is slower than a dial-up modem connection. Their defensive leader, Rodney Harrison, is fighting to return from knee and shoulder damage, and if you know anything about the guy, he'll probably be in there on Sunday. They have a rookie kicker and two backups playing the safety spots. This team has no business winning a championship -- none -- and they're two victories away from No. 4.

Now here's where a slight dose of hypocrisy comes in. We spend so much time complaining about underachieving superstars, overpaid and overhyped players, incompetent GMs, rookie flops, dreadful officiating, troublemakers, thugs, players and coaches doing/saying dumb things, bad trades and signings, annoying announcers and writers, and overrated teams getting too much credit -- by the way, I do as much complaining and mocking as anyone, I'm not absolving myself here -- that I'm starting to wonder if we'll ever fully embrace a special team anymore. Are we too cynical? Are we too desperate to poke fun at everything? Has being a "fan" morphed into something else? Has the fan-sports dynamic started to become a little unhealthy?

Think about it. As recently as 20 years ago, the concept of a sports radio station didn't even exist. Neither did the internet or DirecTV. Fantasy leagues and SportsCenter were just starting to round into shape, but it was still pretty early for both. You simply watched a game, discussed it with friends, devoured the ensuing newspaper coverage, argued about the game at work or school the following day, then you waited for the next one. Now sports has evolved into a 24/7 event, between the instant highlights and internet coverage, thousands and thousands of Web sites and blogs, an infinite number of fantasy leagues, a never-ending slew of sports radio shows, sportswriters screaming at one another on TV and everything else you can imagine. Every game and event is digested and processed almost instantly, and then it's rehashed and digested again, and then it's beaten into the ground, and within a few hours everyone feels obligated to come up with their own unique angle on things -- even if it's extreme, even if it's insane, even if it's blisteringly nasty or vicious, even if it's completely nonsensical or inane.

For instance, since last Sunday's games were played, dozens of columnists, bloggers and radio hosts wrote or vented about the same theme: "This sucks, I can't believe we have to watch another Pats-Colts playoff game!" And none of them provided any real insight on why such a matchup possibly sucked. Hey, who needs insight? It's much more fun just to complain. I'm tired of Manning, I'm tired of Belichick, I'm tired of Brady, I'm tired of the Pats ... Really, you're a football fan and you're not interested in seeing whether the Colts can upend their long-time nemesis and finally make a Super Bowl? That's not cutting it for you?

If you don't like the accompanying BS for an admittedly overdiscussed game, simply skip the shows, columns, features and SportsCenter segments and join CBS at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday. Guess what happens when you block out the forced subplots, the exhausted Manning-Brady comparisons, the insufferable pregame hype and the vitriol on various blogs? You're left with a potentially fantastic game. Remember, these teams can't stand each other dating back to the Colts' whining like sissies after their 2004 playoff loss in New England. Indy has the greatest statistical QB of the past 15 years; New England has the best big-game QB of the past 15 years. The Colts are a good home team with something finally resembling a decent defense; the Pats are getting it done, for the most part, with smoke and mirrors. Everything about this Patriots season stopped making sense the moment Jabar Gaffney started averaging 10.5 catches per playoff game.

So why do the Patriots have a chance? Because they're the Patriots. Watching "24" after Sunday's improbable victory, like every other Patriots fan, I couldn't help but think of the San Diego comeback during the scene when Jack Bauer pulled a Hannibal Lecter to escape another hairy situation. You always know Jack will bounce back -- not just because he signed a three-year contract, either -- and you always know the Pats will bounce back, even if they're handcuffed to a sewage pipe and pistol-whipped for three quarters. On Sunday, their best chance of winning boils down to three things: (1) don't turn the ball over; (2) hope the Colts don't play well; and (3) hope the game comes down to the last 10 minutes, when Belichick and Brady have been invincible over the past six seasons. If the first two don't happen, we won't get a chance to see No. 3. And the Colts don't want any part of No. 3.

One thing's for sure: this AFC Championship Game is totally up in the air, and if you can't get fired up for that premise, maybe you don't enjoy professional football as much as you thought. Just know that rooting for the Patriots isn't like rooting for the house in blackjack. See, we never feel safe. We never feel like we're going to crush everyone else. We're constantly astounded by what's happening, and we never fail to appreciate the significance of it. There isn't a single Pats fan who can't vividly remember those first four decades of futility and embarrassment, as well as the nightmare season when the franchise nearly fled for St. Louis and rendered every one of our memories moot. Much like Private Ryan, we earned this.

And if the Patriots can pull off another beauty on Sunday night, maybe my phone won't be ringing off the hook, and maybe we're headed for two weeks of "just shoot me, I'm so freaking tired of the Patriots" stories, and maybe we'd be as popular as the Russian hockey team in Lake Placid if the Saints make it to Miami. But you know what? Patriots fans have had it both ways, and it's much more fun being Michael Corleone than Fredo. Actually, it's much, much, much, much MUCH more fun. So keep ragging on us all you want. You'd trade places with us in a heartbeat and you know it.

(Now THAT sounds like something a Yankees fan would say.)

Baby Lee
01-19-2007, 11:29 AM
I understand his point about 40 years of futility, although I seem to recall SBs in 85, 96, even if they weren't victories.
But in today's story cycle, that's as revelant as relating, say, The Killers laboring in obscurity for 5 or so years until they hit it big, when every radio station has had them in heavy rotation for the past several months/years.
People get tired of the overdog, they just do.

StcChief
01-19-2007, 11:34 AM
I want a 1985 SB-XX redo.

DaBears and Pats.

No stinkin' 'aints or Manning's Colts

siberian khatru
01-19-2007, 11:34 AM
I can appreciate it.

I grew up in North Carolina a HUGE fan of ACC basketball. I rooted hard for UNC, Duke, etc. in the national tournament. I always thought they were the "underdog" teams because they were from the South (and because Dean Smith hadn't won a national championship yet).

Only when I moved away did I realize that most of the country saw Carolina as part of the "elite" and rooted for them to lose.

Jenson71
01-19-2007, 11:38 AM
Not enough Godfather references.

88TG88
01-19-2007, 11:45 AM
hes right the patriots are boring. except when theyre beating the chargers

Fried Meat Ball!
01-19-2007, 11:46 AM
Um... are there Cliffs Notes?

Amnorix
01-19-2007, 11:53 AM
I understand his point about 40 years of futility, although I seem to recall SBs in 85, 96, even if they weren't victories.
But in today's story cycle, that's as revelant as relating, say, The Killers laboring in obscurity for 5 or so years until they hit it big, when every radio station has had them in heavy rotation for the past several months/years.
People get tired of the overdog, they just do.

Yes, they do. I definitely agree. I remember as a kid hating the Dolphins, looking with total jealousy at Shula and Marino, Walsh and Montana, etc., and just wishing WE could have the great coach and great quarterback.

And we do, and it's freaking astonishing.

And the SB in '85 is best forgotten by Pats fans, really. The season was great, but that massacre, followed by the Red Sox WS meltdown, did not make for good memories.

1986 was a great year in Boston sports, however.

Celtics win World Championship
Pats loss in SB to bears (end of '85 season, but game played in calendar 1986)
Red Sox lose in WS
Bruins lose in Stanley Cup finals.

Nzoner
01-19-2007, 11:55 AM
Thanks,I really liked the article and yes he's right I'd love to be in their poistion as a fan.Personally,I'm really looking forward to this game and hoping that Brady and the Pats can once again send Manning and Co. packing.

Cochise
01-19-2007, 12:03 PM
Who are the Chiefs then? Luca Brazzi?

Nzoner
01-19-2007, 12:07 PM
Who are the Chiefs then? Luca Brazzi?

I think you could call that last play-off game a slow painful death.

oldandslow
01-19-2007, 12:09 PM
"They don't have any self-promoting a-holes doing sack dances or touchdown dances, they haven't been whistled for any substance abuse violations, and as far as I can recall, not a single Patriot filmed a commercial this season."

__________________________________________________

I know Brady has filmed commercials in the past - snickers and mastercard, I think...but perhaps not this year.

Jenson71
01-19-2007, 12:12 PM
"They don't have any self-promoting a-holes doing sack dances or touchdown dances, they haven't been whistled for any substance abuse violations, and as far as I can recall, not a single Patriot filmed a commercial this season."

__________________________________________________

I know Brady has filmed commercials in the past - snickers and mastercard, I think...but perhaps not this year.

Just can't fit them in with John Mellencamp, Dodge robots and Peyton Manning guy next door.

tk13
01-19-2007, 12:19 PM
My favorite bit of the column was when he talked about Vinatieri shanking a game winning FG, then ripping his jersey off to reveal a Pats jersey underneath, while running back to the Pats sidelines while Jim Nantz screams... LMAO

Otter
01-19-2007, 12:54 PM
That was a good article, I like the Pats and admire them. Salute'

Takes some calones to write an article comparing any Boston Team to the Yankees.

BucEyedPea
01-19-2007, 01:16 PM
I remember as a kid hating the Dolphins, looking with total jealousy at Shula and Marino, Walsh and Montana, etc., and just wishing WE could have the great coach and great quarterback.

I remember growing up, hating the Dolphins too, even though I didn't watch a stitch of football. I just remember my father being angry and upset most of the time about the Patriots. I'd ask what was happening with him; the answer was usually the "Dolphins" so naturally I hated them. The emotional-roller coaster would ruin Sunday dinners. When, I was here in Florida they won the SB which I heard about from some friends and I was just glad they finally won something after all those years growing up listening to my Dad complain about them.

I thought you were from the mid-west, Amn and relocated to NE as an adult.

Halfcan
01-19-2007, 02:18 PM
I liked the article, but now I hate it for some reason.

Halfcan
01-19-2007, 02:19 PM
I hope the Pats destroy Mangina again!!!

jynni
01-19-2007, 02:32 PM
I hope the Pats destroy Mangina again!!!

Yes, after thinking about it, my ideal scenario is that the Pats stomp on the Colts. I never want to see Manning in the SB. However, the Pats must then go on to get completely destroyed in the SB. I mean blown out eleventy billion to nothing. Hopefully it will be to the Bears since my younger brother said they wouldn't make it far in the post season. If they win the SB (by smashing the Pats) then that makes him wrong, which means I'm right.

Piper
01-19-2007, 03:39 PM
They don't have any self-promoting a-holes doing sack dances or touchdown dances,

Um, wrong

See last week's post-game celebration.

Calcountry
01-19-2007, 03:57 PM
I can appreciate it.

I grew up in North Carolina a HUGE fan of ACC basketball. I rooted hard for UNC, Duke, etc. in the national tournament. I always thought they were the "underdog" teams because they were from the South (and because Dean Smith hadn't won a national championship yet).

Only when I moved away did I realize that most of the country saw Carolina as part of the "elite" and rooted for them to lose.Except for Jimmy V's run in 1983 with NC State, I have never rooted for an NC team.

"Whittenburg, that's a long way.....!!!111"

Thurl Baily rebounds and jams it through for the winner against Phi Slamma Jamma's Clyde Drexler and Akim Olajuwon.

Still one of my all time favorite sports memories.

No one, I was a senior at the time, and I mean no one, had NC State even keeping that game close. I was saying, I don't know, that team is destined. I got to have EVERYONE eat some crow the next day. Awesome.

DaKCMan AP
01-19-2007, 04:33 PM
Duh! Pacino's the man!

Frazod
01-19-2007, 06:08 PM
Some thoughts:

1. Yes, I'm sick of the Patriots. In a perfect world, their plane would crash into Yankee Stadium during a Yanks/Red Sox game.

2. And speaking of the Yankees, is it EVER, EVER possible for a Boston sportswriter to write an article about ANY sport that doesn't include whining about the Yankees? Good Lord, GET OVER IT.

3. And yes, to the rest of the country, the Red Sox ARE THE YANKEES, and the Yankees are the Red Sox. I give you the YANKSOX, and f#ck 'em all right in the ass with a big rubber dick. One big, nasty mass of arrogance and greed that steals all our best players and ruins the f#cking game. It's all the same to us. When you (and by YOU and mean BOTH OF YOU, all of Yanksox Nation) fail, it's a victory for decency and goodness. The last two World Series have featured Middle America teams that no one outside of Detroit, Houston, St. Louis and the south side of Chicago give a shit about, and THAT'S GREAT. Boston, New York, Fox and ESPN are shitting themselves over the prospect of yet another WS without Yanksox, but personally I hope the next one is the Brewers versus the Rangers, or perhaps the Royals versus the Reds. Anything that f#cks up the Yanksox works for me.

4. But the one thing that REALLY PISSES ME OFF is that I have to root for the goddamn Patriots, because as much as I'm sick of them, I don't quite hate them completely, at least not yet, and I do hate that lumpy-faced commercial pimp Manning. I don't think it matters that he's not a Bronco anymore - he just needs to DIE. :#