[Note: If your name is Cunningham, Ash or Willie Moe, I urge you to skip over this. It's not directed toward you nor meant to be a "slam" of any kind. You know I think you fellas are swell and love you guys despite the team you have chosen to support. Take no personal offense, I beg you. Breakfast is on me next time, kids. This one is most certainly not for your perusal...]
The amazing thing about sports is that just when you think the world has run out of good true stories, sports find a way to create geniuinely compelling, unexpected and dramatic new moments.
I'm not trying to go all Bob Costas on you here. This is not about sentimentality; it's about drama. It's about actually believing in the improbable. I've been around long enough to experience some truly incredible and legendary moments in sports. Kirk Gibson's 9th inning bomb in the 1988 World Series, the Bills coming back from down 32 against the Houston Oilers, the Red Sox coming back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees in the 2004 World Series. I've also seen some incredible upsets, like Duke beating UNLV in 1990, Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson on my 14th birthday, and last night.
First, let's get one thing straight: I hate the New England Patriots. I mean, I fucking hate them. Hate isn't strong enough a word, really. I used to say I hated the New York Yankees, but that feels like mild annoyance compared to how I feel about this collection of arrogant phonies and their godawful corporate-speak philosophies. Their "Humble Pie" t-shirts, their desire to copyright "19-0" (as if the term had never been invented), their asshole head coach, their prettyboy QB, their everyone-loves-us-cuz-we're-so-gritty linebacking corps, and the fact that they cheat.
I'm not just talking about Spygate, although the way that Patriots fans have tried to justify that makes my stomach churn. You know goddamn well that if it was discovered that the Colts had been stealing signals in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, all the Yah-Doods in RedSawx caps woulda been screamin' bluddy murdah for six and a haff munts. I don't buy the "everyone's doing it" defense, and if they were, why would the NFL give a record fine and penalize a draft pick to their crown jewel franchise and no one else?
But no, the cheating to which I'm referring is two decades of chicanery and bending the rules until they are forced to be changed. It all comes from the Head Coach, of course, Mr. Charisma himself, Bill Belicheat. From Super Bowl XXV where he told Giants LB Gary Reasons to kick the ball Scott Norwood was about to kick wide right after it was already spotted, to forcing the Indianapolis Colts to play on a field that should have been crossed with a mule and a sherpa, Belicheat has done everything he can to gain every tiny advantage out of the game, just short of breaking the rules. And sometimes not stopping short.
Why is it a 15-yard you call two consecutive time-outs to freeze a kicker? Because the Patriots used to try and fake kickers out by calling the second time out they didn't have. Why are there stricter rules about how much contact defensive backs can have with receivers? Look no further than the 2003 AFC Championship Game and the Ty Law rule. You can thank Vince Wilfork for destroying J.P. Losman's career in Buffalo with a cheapshot to the knee. Wilfork takes pride in being find thousands of dollars.
After the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago, San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick said that Pats defensive lineman Richard Seymour was "Head slapping, foot stomping in the pile, running by and throwing punches in your back," called Seymour "dirty, cheap, pompous" and said Richard Seymour is the biggest (expletive) I've ever played."
They have wiped their filthy asses with Terrible Towels, they have danced in the middle of the field to mock Shawne Merriman (who is a douche, granted). They put Tom Brady as "probable" on the injury report every week -- which, frankly, I'm surprised some Vegas mobster-type hasn't made Belicheat stop doing at gunpoint. I read this morning that before the game, the Patriots were inviting the Giants to their upcoming victory parties after the game. This team reeks of high character.
Paul Woody of the Richmond Post-Dispatch does a better job than I do of laying out why the Patriots are such a bunch of fucking dirtbags.
And the worst part is that they are perpetually lauded by the media as being "a class organization." It's one thing for the Patriots themselves to trumpet themselves as a bunch of take-the-high-road "lunch pail" players; it's altogether something else for the smitten media to be compliant in perpetuating this myth. Any time Belicheat's old buddy Phil Simms speaks of Tom Brady, you practically have to wipe Brady's ejaculate from Simms' chin.
So single-minded was the media's desire to see "a historic team" that they glossed over all the things that make the Patriots so hateable. At least the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons and "South America's Team" Dallas Cowboys had the decency to be flamboyantly assholish and unlikable. It takes a truly despicable character to stab a man in the stomach while smiling to his face.
But the rich, evil fat-cats of the world can only sit atop their golden thrones, smoking fine cigars and laughing at the misfortunes of the poor for so long before they are brought to earth by the most vengeful bitch known to humankind.
As many of my faithful readers know, I predicted this back in November. The Patriots and their hubris were simply too obvious to ignore. They had made their living all season by talking trash to lesser opponents (picking on straw-men like Pittsburgh's Aaron Smith), running up the score (including going for it on fourth down several times when the game was well in hand) and all the while playing the part of the top-hatted gentleman.
People often accuse me and fellow Patriot-Haters of being jealous of the Patriots' success. Not true. While I would love to watch my Bills win 3 of 4 Super Bowls, I don't hate the Patriots just because they are good. The San Antonio Spurs have been every bit as dominant as the Patriots over the last decade, and I don't hate them. Nor did I hate the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2001. I hate them because they are hateable. Whether it's Bill Belichick's smug press conferences, Tedi Bruschi making the "ok" sign with his hand and homosexually yelling "that's threeeeeee!!!!" into a camera, or Charlie Weis getting a tummy tuck so he would look more like "head coaching material," this image-conscious franchise with the worst logo in sports reeks of all that is phony integrity.
So you can loathe my schadenfreude of the Patriots ass-pounding at the hands of the blitz-happy New York Giants -- a team for which I hold no particular affinity -- if you like, but I prefer to look at it as justice. No team that I've ever known has been more detestable, no team has had a less likeable cast of characters, and no team has ever set themselves up for more rancorous, bilious vitriol than this band of Wall Street vulture types dressed up in a hard-hat wearing blue collar guise.
I loved Tom Brady looking as if he had switched bodies with Eli Manning (who I also can't stand but for other unrelated reasons) and was looking for his daddy to help him out somehow.
I loved watching Lace-Tedi Bruschi and Junior Seau doing a cursory public-relations hug in the hopes that Steve Sabol and NFL Films would be watching.
I loved watching the Giants attack Brady like a kamikaze squad and that Brady couldn't muster more than the one final drive with four Giants in his face on every play, taking away his 6-8 seconds in the pocket.
I loved that all I saw on the Patriots' sideline when the Pats were on offense was Bruschi, Seau and Mike "My Nose Starts at My Forehead" Vrabel sucking wind instead of laughing and back-slapping each other.
I loved that Rodney Harrison and the vaunted Pats secondary got torched all night long.
I loved watching Darth Sweatshirt Belicheat walk off the field in defeat, the weight of a Super Bowl choke job pulling down his genius balloon like a sandbag.
I love that the sports media won't acknowledge two consecutive chokes by these same Patriots -- this colossal tank and last year's 18-point blown lead against Indy. Although Mark "Stink" Schlereth did say that this was the most significant loss in the history of the National Football League.
I am lucky in that the only Patriots fans I know are wonderful people, and apart from a couple semi-heated discussions, they have been refreshingly classy about their team's success.
As for the mouth-breathing bottom-feeders who end every weak argument with "count the rings," suck defeat and swallow it down. You are the reason that 95% of the non-New England population is celebrating this cold February day.