Helen Reddy and Kermit The Frog. It's come to this, Patriots fans.
The Patriots are
6 5 4.5 4-point underdogs.
The Broncos are restricting ticket sales to residents of certain Mountain and Central Time Zone States, even though some of those tickets make be fakes.
The Patriots fans are spoiled, unappreciative, crybabies, so says Charles Barkley.
Tom Brady isn't Tom Brady any more.
The Broncos are "The Team of Destiny."
And, don't forget, Bill Belichick is a serial cheater.
You'd think New England would have been better off losing on Saturday to the Colts. They have no shot Sunday at Denver in the AFC Championship Game. [Note sarcasm font.]
The Patriots have neatly reverted to the role of disrespected, under-appreciated and counted-out misfits. New England has become the team no one outside of New England really wants in the Super Bowl, especially at the expense of Peyton Purity and the Broncos.
Peyton vs. Satan XV. With nothing less than the fate of the planet at stake.
The Patriots again are the Yankees, Heat and Canadiens of the NFL.
We even had a mini-wastebasket full of trash talk Monday. Broncos safety Mike Adams wasn't sharing much love for Julian Edelman, at least not when comparing him to Wes Welker. "I can't compare the two because Wes [is] something special," Adams said. "He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off balance. Edelman, he doesn't do that. He's a one-speed guy. He doesn't have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot."
This is what passes for "bulletin-board material" in 2014. Not quite Joe Namath pool-side in Miami.
Brady on Monday happily fueled the ire of the Patriots. Speaking during his weekly sponsored appearance on WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" show, Brady embraced the reality that it will likely be "New England Against The World" on Sunday.
"I know when we played Baltimore nobody picked us to win, and I'm sure no one is going to pick us to win this week," Brady said. "We've got a bunch of underdogs on our team and we'll be an underdog again, and we'll see how that shapes up at the end of the week ... But I know we're as tough, as physical as we've ever been, and that's how we're going to need to go out and play this game."
Right in the sweet spot. One thing us obnoxious Boston fans love more than celebrating championships is celebrating championships that were not supposed to happen.
Rattle 'em off. The 2004 and 2013 Red Sox, the Super Bowl XXXVI champion Patriots, the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Bruins. They all copped championships against any and all realistic prognostications.
Boston sports fans have always had high expectations, they just weren't realized with such amazing regularity before 2002. Much of what Barkley said - watch the clip here [some language NSFW] - was right on point.
Yes, the Patriots will suck for a while once Brady and Belichick leave. Yes, any year they don't win a title is a letdown. Yes, Boston fans will be disappointed with anything less than a championship.
But Championship-less Chuck is wrong about the fact that the Patriots fans will bolt if/when the team does start to suck. And he bricked it when he said New England's current success is not appreciated by the Massachusetts masses.
Maybe Barkley wants a Duck Boat parade for reaching the AFC title game? But that's just not how it's done in the Bay State. Growing up in Greater Boston, we learned that effort was the first and most necessary ingredient in life. You are never allowed to quit at anything worthwhile until you win or become successful. However that's defined.
Nothing comes easy. We were raised not to raise our hopes to unrealistic levels but to never stop believing in ourselves. Eventually, if you did everything right and didn't screw over the next guy [karma is big in these parts], you might be a winner. You also learned how to make money on snow days with some hustle and a quick shovel.
Esquire's Luke O'Neill this week offered an eloquent defense of the generic "Obnoxious Boston Sports Fan." Any post that includes an uncensored clip from "Goodfellas" is worth a link from this space every day. O'Neill's prose was certainly much appreciated and is worth your time. There are, however, no apologies needed for those of us slotted in the OBF category [real or imagined], nor is there any guilt to reconcile due to the recent success of Boston's major-league teams.
We'll keep this discussion limited to Patriots fans. Depending on age, the citizens of Patriots Nation have either labored through years of mediocrity, spiced with disappointing post-season performances, or were scarred in their youth by "18-1" and the late-game Gisele-tirade-inducing drop by Welker.
Chuck may no know this, but the Patriots were one of the NFL's major laughingstocks for 40 years before the "Tuck Rule Game." They once played a regular-season game in Alabama, Chuck's home state. Fans got soaked at the old stadium when it rained, as they stood beneath the concrete stands. Once, a fan broke up a pass play at the end of a game played at
Harvard Stadium Nickerson Field. Victor Kiam. Kenneth Sims. Rod Rust. William Perry scored as many touchdowns as the Patriots did in their first Super Bowl. There were deals in place to move the team to St. Louis and Connecticut during the 1990s.
My son barely remembers his life as a Patriots fan before they won a Super Bowl, but he and those of his generation earned their "Guilt Free For Life" card when David Tyree caught Eli Manning's pass with his helmet and Rodney Harrison.
Speaking of underdogs, there's the career of Mr. 199 himself.
This entire scenario casting the Patriots, Brady and Belichick as underdogs, "bad guys" and their fans as spoiled Massholes is exactly how both the team and its fan base secretly wants it. We've seen enough post-season scenarios that cast the Patriots as invincible end in catastrophe. This is much better.
Win, and it's a collective "Up Yours, World" from 12 million people and trip to the Super Bowl in New Jersey. [Leave plenty of time for traffic jams.] Lose, and it will sting for a myriad of reasons. but these Patriots have over-achieved all season, and were counted by many of those "experts" and "insiders" around Veterans Day.
Who knows, the Patriots may even cover if that line stops moving?
Arrogance, obnoxiousness, conceit, confidence, lots of profanity, and as answer for everything [except Hernandez and the Giants in February] have earned Patriots' fans plenty of scorn across the league and interwebs. A record of NFL success untouched in the past dozen years, the super model wife/life and handsome looks that only improve with age have turned Brady into the focus of Old Testament envy. Belichick's mastery of the Dark Side, espionage and his effervescent personality may have influenced people, but have won over few friends.
All of this angers the Spygate Truthers, Haters, Defeatists and Professional Contrarians even more than just the simple presence of the Patriots back in the AFC title game for the eighth time since January of 2002. Adding the old "persecution complex' adds even more octane to the maelstrom of emotion that continues to churn in preparation for Sunday's game.
Swap out Brady for Kermit, and Belichick for Miss Reddy in the above clip, and we have the perfect set-up for Sunday's game. It's also timely since Reddy is returning to the stage later this month after a 14-year absence.
The rest of us can sing chorus:
You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walked away,
You can count on me to stay.
Got that, Chuck?
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