You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.
— Shannon L. Alder
I’ll be rooting for the New England Patriots today.
Not because I’m a fan, mind you — I’m a Seattle native and a longtime Denver resident — so rooting against the Patriots has felt as natural as wheezing in the Mile High City’s thin air after a five-block run… not that I would ever attempt such a ridiculous feat.
No, I’ll be cheering on New England for a different reason — to celebrate success.
Since Sept. 30, 2001, when a 24-year-old Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback from Drew Bledsoe, who was injured in the previous game, the Patriots have accumulated a 220-65 regular season record and have been to the playoffs 16 times — with a 29-10 record and five Lombardi trophies to show for their efforts.
In the new millennium, no other team has even come close to that level of achievement. New England’s 29 postseason wins since 2000 is nearly double the 15 recorded by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, who are tied for second. In fact, the Patriots’ all-time playoff winning percentage (they were 7-10 prior to the arrival of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick) is the highest in history.
Think about that. The Patriots have a higher postseason win rate (64.3 percent) than the Green Bay Packers (60.7 percent), San Francisco 49ers (60.0 percent), Pittsburgh (59.0 percent) and Dallas Cowboys (55.6 percent).
As former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson might say: “How ‘bout them Patriots?”
Yet, despite this, the boys from Boston are largely despised.
A 2017 poll found that not only was New England the most disliked team in the NFL (right ahead of the Cowboys — sorry, Jimmy), the Patriots were thought of “negatively” by 42 percent of the poll respondents as well.
What’s more, 24 percent disliked the (younger) man named Brady.
Of course, folks will come up with all kinds of reasons for the lack of love — from the Patriots videotaping opponents to deflating their balls — but I think most people abhor Brady and his New England teammates for one reason: they’re too good.
And being too successful is a red flag to many in our country.
In a column that appeared in The Washington Post, authors Charles Mathewes and Evan Sandsmark viewed this as a good thing and lamented the fact that attitudes on the subject seem to be changing.
“We used to think that having vast sums of money was bad and in particular bad for you — that it harmed your character, warping your behavior and corrupting your soul. We thought the rich were different, and different for the worse,” they wrote.
“Today, however, we seem less confident of this. We seem to view wealth as simply good or neutral, and chalk up the failures of individual wealthy people to their own personal flaws, not their riches. Those who are rich, we seem to think, are not in any more moral danger than the rest of us.”
Mathewes and Sandsmark aren’t speaking out of their rear orifices either. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll, 55 percent of the U.S. population believed rich people were “more likely” to be greedy, while 34 percent believed they were “less likely” to be honest.
Yet, recent surveys also show that over half the country’s adult population plays state lotteries — presumably so they too can become greedy and dishonest.
This is especially amazing when one considers that, according to yet another poll (sorry for going George Gallup on everybody) only 13 percent of Americans say “being wealthy” is “very important to them.”
So, is there confusion over the lottery prizes? Do people think winning Powerball means a free package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp? (Granted, I’d play for that, but only because I really like Slim Jims for their artery-clogging properties.)
Tom Brady is a good-looking guy with a model wife, a lot of money and seemingly ageless talent. The New England Patriots are a football dynasty in a salary-cap system specifically designed to prevent such dynasties.
Far from booing the Patriots, we should all be cheering them.
Brady was a sixth-round draft choice said to be too “skinny” and lacking “physical stature and strength,” while Belichick toiled for 15 years as an assistant coach before getting his first NFL head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns — where he was promptly fired after five years and a 36-44 overall record.
Frankly, I’d be happy to share a package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp with either one of them — but they’re paying.
Featured photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash.