Everyone is Jealous of the New England Patriots: Here Are 8 Reasons Why

  • 8. When you think they’re beat, they’re not

    The team that broke just about every offensive record last season, the Denver Broncos, led 24-0 at halftime over the Patriots in Week 12 last year. After 1 minute, 47 seconds had run off of the clock in the fourth quarter, the Patriots led 28-24. Brady instrumented four consecutive touchdown drives — three into the wind on a 20-degree night when it was nearly impossible to pass — after New England was shut out in the opening half. The Patriots won the game in overtime, 34-31.

    It’s not just games that the Patriots can’t be counted out of. It’s entire seasons. In 2013, New England lost a number of defensive starters to injury, including season-ending injuries to defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and middle linebacker and defensive captain Jerod Mayo. On offense, Brady played most of the season without playmaking tight end Rob Gronkowski and had an entire slew of new wide receivers, including three rookies — Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Aaron Dobson. New England went 12-4, the second-best record in the AFC, and somehow made it to the AFC Championship Game for the third consecutive year.

    In 2006, the Patriots’ leading receiver was Reche Caldwell. In 2004, it was David Givens. When they went to the Super Bowl in 2007, Laurence Maroney was their leading rusher. Every time you think the Patriots don’t have the personnel to contend for a title, they do anyway.

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  • 7. It’s almost impossible to beat the Patriots in Foxboro

    For all of the talk about the 12th man in Seattle and the noise at Arrowhead in Kansas City, Gillette Stadium is the place where teams should really fear playing. Since 2006, with Tom Brady at quarterback, New England is 57-5 at home. That includes a 49-3 record in the regular season. You probably have a better chance of getting hit by lightning then you do of beating the Patriots at home.

    The place is always packed, too. The Patriots have some of the most loyal fans in the league. They’ve sold out every home game dating back to 1994. And whether it’s the guys with muskets hanging out at the back of the end zone — the End Zone Militia — intimidating opponents, or just that the Patriots play their best football at home, the fans usually leave with Patriot victories.

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  • 6. Good fortune has fallen the Patriots’ way

    In a 1982 game against the Dolphins, the Patriots’ snowplow operator drove out onto the field and cleared a path for John Smith to kick the game-winning field goal. That really happened.

    And for as good as the Patriots have been in the Tom Brady era, they’ve been lucky, too. The tuck rule, which says any intentional forward movement by the quarterback’s arm, including tucking the ball, is an incompletion, was instituted in 1999. But no one knew it existed until 2002. That’s when Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson decked Brady during a divisional playoff game, forcing the ball loose. The Raiders recovered and were almost guaranteed of a victory. Except, the referees ruled Brady was indeed tucking and that his fumble was really an incompletion. Adam Vinatieri later tied the game with a field goal on that drive and hit the game-winner in overtime. New England went on to win its first Super Bowl that year, and I’m sure Raiders fans have forgotten all about it.

    After Bernard Pollard ended Tom Brady’s 2008 season by lunging into his knee from the grass, the NFL instituted a new rule before the 2009 season to protect their franchise quarterbacks like Brady. Between the tuck rule and the Brady rule, it’s easy for fans to get the impression that the league is making up rules to help the Patriots win.

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  • 5. The genius of Belichick

    Bill Belichick doesn’t care what you think of him and he does things his own way. He often shows up in ripped hooded sweatshirts, he gives the worst interviews of all time, and I’m not sure if he’s ever smiled.

    Yet 30 NFL Insiders recently voted him the best coach in the NFL in a poll by ESPN’s Mike Sando. Belichick serves as the Patriots’ coach and general manager, so he makes all of the roster calls and he’s been ruthless. He consistently trades franchise faces who seem like they’re in their prime — Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour, Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch — in order to keep the team financially flexible for the next season. And it’s worked really well. The Patriots pay a few people and fill in the rest of the roster with moving parts and still have had double-digit wins in each of the last 11 seasons.

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  • 4. They’re arrogant

    This starts at the top with Belichick. In an attempt to keep anything negative from reaching the media, Belichick regurgitates generic one-liners like, “We need to play better,” and gives the media no new information. The Patriots players aren’t much better. Clearly under a directive from Belichick, they stay tight-lipped and usually answer questions like they’re robots. It can definitely come across as smug.

    The secrecy Belichick consistently uses doesn’t help the perception. Fans don’t know who is playing from week to week or what the Patriots’ plans are until the game starts.

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  • 3. Spygate

    Once a cheater, always a cheater. It’s a common line in relationships, but also can represent the views of sports fans who feel wronged by cheating athletes. Sports fans have a universal dislike for alleged cheaters. Once a player or team is caught cheating, that stigma sticks around for a long time, in some cases forever. That why, even though seven years have passed, many fans still view the Patriots as cheaters.

    The Patriots were caught cheating during their undefeated regular season in 2007. Someone from the team videotaped New York Jets coaches in order to pick up on their sideline signals. Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined an additional $250,000 and was stripped of its 2008 first-round draft pick.

    Here are the facts Patriots haters aren’t going to like: New England has a higher winning percentage since 2007 than it had in the six seasons with Brady before it. As of Oct. 1, the Patriots went 70-26 from 2001-06 and are 91-28 since.

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  • 2. Tom Brady

    It’s just not fair. Tom Brady wins more than any quarterback in NFL history, gets paid millions of dollars every year, is really good looking, and his wife is one the world’s most beautiful supermodels. Oh, and Forbes declared that Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen was the world’s highest paid model for the 13th consecutive year in 2014. She’s earned an estimated $47 million in the last year; that’s $16 million more than Brady. They’re the ultimate power couple because Gisele dominates off the field the way Tom does on it.

    Back to Brady. He’s more than a handsome face who can pedal UGG boots and the latest Under Armour gear. Brady’s really, really good at playing quarterback, too. He’s never going to throw for as many yards as Peyton Manning or be as flashy as Aaron Rodgers, but he wins games at a higher clip than either of them, or any other quarterback in NFL history for that matter. Winning is Brady’s trademark and it’s a pretty good one to have. Brady’s 10-5 in his career against Manning, has three Super Bowl rings compared to Manning’s one, and he’s tied with John Elway for most Super Bowl appearances by a quarterback (five). Brady also has the most playoff victories of any quarterback ever.

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  • 1. They win

    Nobody likes individuals or teams that win too much. It’s the same reason fans hate on the San Antonio Spurs, six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, and even the New York Yankees. In Brady’s first 10 years as a starter, New England set an NFL record for most wins (121) by any team over the course of a decade. They broke their own record (123) in 2011, and then again (126) in 2012. The Patriots haven’t just won games over the last decade and a half. They’ve dismantled teams. During their undefeated regular season in 2007, the Pats outscored their opponents 589-274, which is unheard of in the NFL. Fans of other teams remember those losses.

    Fans also love rooting for an underdog, and the Patriots are far from it. In any battle of David and Goliath, New England is always Goliath. The Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills have felt like David in the AFC East for some time. The Patriots have won 10 of the last 11 division titles. If you’re a fan of one of these other teams, you better hope for a wild card. And just about every year, when it comes down to the best four teams in football on conference championship weekend, the Patriots are there. They’ve been to eight of the 13 AFC Championship Games, have been to the Super Bowl five times in that span, and have won it three times.

    The No. 1 reason people hate on the Patriots is they’re just tired of seeing them win.

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  • Kenbrell Thompkins
  • New England Patriots EndZone Militia
  • Tom Brady
  • Tom Brady
  • Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen

In February of 2013, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs told Boston radio station WEEI that he “guarantees the other 31 (NFL) teams hate the New England Patriots.” ESPN ran a story on Suggs’ statement and conducted a SportsNation poll, in which fans were asked if the Patriots were the most-hated team in the league. More than 20,000 fans voted, and the answer was a resounding yes. (Fifty-five percent voted for New England.) Whether Suggs was accurate in saying that every other team despises New England we’ll never know, but the fan vote at least made it clear that the Patriots have an image problem.

During the Tom Brady era (2001-present), the Patriots have distanced themselves from indifference. What I mean is, most NFL fans either love the Patriots or hate the Patriots, and few remain between. New England’s actions grew a loyal fanbase while angering the rest of the nation.

Where does all of this disdain stem from?

That’s not an easy answer, because depending upon whom you talk to, the response will be different. And that’s just it, really — the Patriots are different. They consistently trade first-round picks to back up in the draft, they stay tight-lipped about their opponents, and seemingly operate robotically (mostly without all-world talents) under head coach Bill Belichick’s leadership. And they win a lot of games doing these things. There’s a reason they’re called the evil empire.

They started slow this season and yet are in first place in their division all over again. These envious feelings won’t fade so quickly. Just know that Everyone is Jealous of the New England Patriots: Here Are 8 Reasons Why.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @bpoirierNB

image via Keith Allison/Flickr Creative Commons