This year’s Super Bowl Sunday allowed many Americans to embark on one of their favorite pastimes: jeering at the New England Patriots. However, despite the animosity from sports fans across the US, the team couldn’t be deterred, as they secured their sixth Super Bowl victory, defeating the Rams 13-3.
While many people might believe the hatred for the team is solely due to jealousy, it seems to be deeper rooted than that. Find out why football fans no longer like the New England Patriots.
The End of the Underdogs
While New England residents might be the first sports fans to don their Patriots jerseys every game, the rest of America doesn’t share the same affection towards the sporting champions.
While the New England Patriots were viewed as the underdog many years ago, they are usually one of the favorites at Oddschecker to win the Super Bowl. Yet, it’s to many football fans’ dismay. According to an SB Nation FanPulse poll, 75% of fans wanted the Los Angeles Rams to win the Super Bowl LIII, while only 25% were backing the Patriots.
The Patriots have been dominating the NFL since 2000, when quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick joined the team. The virtually unstoppable Patriots have reached the Super Bowl an impressive nine times, and they’ve also secured 16 division titles and reached the AFC championships for eight consecutive seasons. In fact, if you add all their victories together, you’ll find they haven’t experienced a losing season since 2001.
The one-time underdog’s success has, however, left a bitter taste in American’s mouths. In fact, they team are reportedly so hated that the players themselves wear the hatred towards them almost as a badge of honor.
It seems that football fans are craving fairness in the NFL. While the Patriots might reach the Super Bowl based on skill and hard work, many football fans could believe the Patriots are standing in the way of their team reaching Super Bowl Sunday.
Brady’s Gift is His Curse
No football fan could deny that Tom Brady is one of the finest quarterbacks in history. Yet, his remarkable gift is seemingly his curse. When the Patriots secured their sixth win, social media was alive with insults and animosity towards the team and, primarily, Tom Brady. Rather than praising the quarterback on his exceptional talent, like basketball fans expressed for Michael Jordan, many people are more than happy to air their resentment towards Brady.
In fact, it’s for this very reason why the media regularly reported that Brady’s talent was on the decline after the Patriots loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.
The Assumption of Cheating
As mentioned, the disdain towards the New England Patriots is deeper rooted than jealousy alone. In 2015, many of the team’s players were accused of using footballs in the championship game that were reportedly deflated below the NFL’s air pressure standard, which would make the ball much easier for the players to control, and was coined “Deflate-gate”. Consequently, Brady was suspended for four games, as it was believed he was aware of the illegal tactic. Many football fans also believe the Patriots have been cheating for years, with some even suspecting the Gillette Stadium’s visitors’ locker room has been bugged, which can help the team to eavesdrop on an opposition’s tactics.
However, the rumor isn’t without cause, as it was reported that Belichick instructed staff to videotape the opposing team’s hand signals, which is illegal in the NFL. Consequently, the Patriots received a huge fine, and the head coach also incurred a $500,000 fine.
If this didn’t dent the team’s reputation enough, the Boston Herald made the bold claim that the Patriots potentially pulled a similar trick during Super Bowl 36; however, the newspaper later retracted the story due to an unreliable source. However, this claim will have further damaged the Patriots’ already dwindling reputation.
While the Patriots’ hometown of Foxborough, Massachusetts, is located approximately 20 miles away from Boston, many people associate the football team with the city. With the Patriots dominating the NFL and the Boston Red Sox becoming World Series champions in 2018, as well as multiple victories throughout the noughties, Bostonians have a good reason to be more than a little smug nowadays. Plus, as many football fans perceive Boston sports fans to be both loud and passionate, under the belief that their teams are the best on the planet, they can be viewed by others as almost cocky and obnoxious.
The New England Patriots are undoubtedly a well-oiled machine; however, some may argue they are too well-oiled. While Belichick can routinely develop strategies that work, they lack the drama of other football teams in the NFL. While they are well-regarded for their dramatic comebacks, which are usually thanks to Brady, high-profile moments are few and far between, as they might almost seem robotic in their performance.
As you can see, the resentment towards the Patriots goes beyond jealousy. With cheating rumors circulating about the team, connections to the Trump administration damaging their image, and their relentless dominance of the NFL, it seems the Patriots have developed a reputation that could be almost irreparable. However, love them or hate them, they are seemingly here to stay – at least until Brady hangs up his cleats and Belichick stops developing his world-famous strategies.