Professional football is a fickle beast. When you’re at the bottom of the competitive ladder, any move you make is scrutinized by your fan base and lambasted by the media. Championship success of course is the ultimate goal, giving way to universal respect among your colleagues, fans, and critics. Sadly there is such a thing as too much success.
The Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70’s, the San Francisco 49ers in the eighties, the Dallas Cowboys in the nineties, and the New England Patriots in the 2000s, have all gone from plucky underdogs to beloved winners and ultimately to the team all other fan bases love to hate. The NFL survives on the concept that any of the 32 teams, if comprised properly, can win the Lombardi Trophy. When one team gets a little too successful it breeds contempt amongst their rival fan bases and of course it ruins the concept in which the NFL is built upon, one in which anybody can win.
The New England Patriots are currently the team that all others love to hate. It started long before Spygate and Deflategate were part of public conscience, after creating the NFL’s most recent dynasty, the Patriot’s winning ways were examined a bit closer. In 2004, the NFL’s competition committee severely altered the amount of clutching and grabbing a defensive player could administer due to the unbridled success of Belichick’s gritty defense. The change in defensive rules once again gave way to a more even playing field. Despite a ten year drought of Super Bowl championships, the Patriots continued to be a dominant force in both the regular season and the playoffs. In today’s NFL the Patriots current level of success cannot be. Last season’s incredible run by New England has once again given way to rule changes and unprecedented decision making by the NFL.
After the 2014 divisional championship was determined and the Patriots had used a variety of trick plays to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, the latter team cried foul and once again the rules have been altered in the interest of “competitive fairness.” We are all aware of the current bucket of overreaction that is Deflategate and the amount of crying that is come from Colt’s owner Jim Irsay despite his team being handedly defeated regardless of ball air pressure. Were the footballs under-inflated in the AFC Championship Game? Yes. We’re both sides using under inflated footballs? Yes. In fairness, New England’s footballs were of course (shown to be) far more under inflated than the Colt’s balls but given the situation both teams should have been penalized to some degree. The intercepted pass from Brady in the AFC Championship game was checked for psi. on the sidelines by Colts personel. (Documented in Wells Report). Indianapolis Colts are not as successful currently as the New England Patriots so that was not the case at all. At the time of this writing, Indianapolis still has all their draft picks next year, no fine, and their star quarterback for the first 4 weeks of play. I’m not saying the punishment should be the same for both teams but at the very least the Colts should have been fined for an equipment violation.
Recent news has both Jim Irsay and Raven’s owner Steve Bisciotti chief among a handful of influential owners attempting to swing Roger Goodell’s decision making skills in their favor, in regards to Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension. Only in the wacky world of the NFL does this type of behavior get both reported and tolerated. Why is this madness tolerated? The NFL wants the New England Patriot’s success to come to an end, as it’s best for business.
At the end of the day the New England Patriots are currently the victims of their own success just as they are the victims of their own wrong doings. In a football world where rules are changed to suit your opponent’s needs and punishments are handed out based on unqualified suspicions, the Patriots are still a successful franchise. The question isn’t if but when the NFL Will win the war and restore parity among their league.