Like what you read here? Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter.
There was a cheeky Boston-area billboard which naturally became a provocative meme making the social media rounds over the past weekend. With the Patriots flying Elvis logo positioned at the left the message read: "END THE DROUGHT! 95 DAYS SINCE THE LAST BOSTON TITLE."
On The Daily Snark’s website, Randy Oliver wrote: “The city of Boston make (sic) have just taken the cake for the cockiest billboard ever.” (Pretty sure Randy meant “may,” not “make.”)
But I must agree with the statement. It points to the Red Sox victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in October and suggests that we Boston sports fans were weary of waiting more than three whole months for another to come our way, dammit! While it was inevitable that we’d win — you know, what Tom Brady does in the last bit of any game — the wait was interminable.
Of course, it’s sarcastic, smug and self-important, with perhaps a soupcon of knowing self-mockery. The only title up for grabs Sunday was captured by the New England Patriots, 13-3, in a football game most of America considered “dull” or “lame,” which is what some fans say after a 2-1 baseball game. That is, the defense dominated the offense. Your average baseball fan wants a slugfest, just as your average football fan wants a shootout.
Rams fans were aggravated, America was bored and the insufferable half-time show by Maroon 5 didn’t help matters. (The Onion’s headline: “Super Bowl Halftime Show Marred By Functioning Sound System.”)
But, yes, the Patriots are the new Yankees. Or, as that Daily Snark headline put it: “Cocky Billboard in Boston Will Make You Hate The City’s Sports Teams Even More.”
We are the hated. And — as we must — we embrace it. You’ve heard the phrase: They hate us, ‘cause they ain’t us.
And if you’re an anti-Trumper, owner Robert Kraft added fuel to the anti-Pats fire on Friday by telling “Fox & Friends” that the president “was working very hard to serve the best interests of the country.”
The Yankees won 26 World Series in the 20th century, but only one in the 21st. We hated the Yankees — still do, but with less venom — and much of America did, too. Damn Yankees! The Red Sox won just five World Series, all before 1919, in the 20th century, and were forever taunted by the number “1918,” the year of the last World Series triumph. But they’ve won four in this young century, more than the Yankees' one and more than anyone.
For millennials, the Patriots are a juggernaut that just keeps on rolling — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the constants and everyone else keeps shuffling in and out — and winning. Nine Super Bowl appearances in the last 18 years, six victories, six Duck Boat parades.
But like the oft-hapless Red Sox of yore, longtime Patriots fans remember, and remember well, the indignities they suffered when they were the Boston Patriots in the American Football League, playing wherever they could, and then the dreadful New England Patriots — in 1981 they were 2-12 — playing in the pre-Gillette hell hole variously named Schaefer Stadium, Sullivan Stadium or Foxboro Stadium.
As my friend, Johnny Angel Wendell, put it yesterday in a Facebook post:
“Until Brady, the Patriots were a laughingstock and a joke, a two-time Super Bowl losing team who began life mangled by 42 points in their first Championship game (to San Diego) and subsequently rarely competitive no matter the coach or owners. They became a powerhouse, yes. But not before we hardcore fans suffered 40 years wandering in a wilderness of pigskin despair. So, enough of your whining and wailing.”
In a separate post, former Esquire and current ESPN scribe Tom Junod addressed the boredom issue:
“I know that yesterday's game is going down as a historic stinker. But I went, and I have to tell you it was weirdly electric to watch, and never as boring as it must have been on TV. A few reasons: my first Super Bowl. A crowd of roaring Pats partisans instead of the bored expense-accounters I was told to expect. The discovery that Brady is very mortal, mixed with the realization that he's going to win because he knows how.”
The Patriots have now tied the Pittsburgh Steelers — dominant from 1975 to 1980 and with two wins since — with the most Super Bowl victories. The Patriots wins were accomplished over a much shorter time period and proved to be a far more difficult feat given the 1994 salary cap — put into play, in part, to discourage dynasties.
So, yeah, against all odds, we got a dynasty here and we’re happy to embrace the hate.