Every New England Patriots fan can still remember THAT catch from Super Bowl 49.
I’m not talking about Malcolm Butler, I am referring to Jermaine Kearse. The Kearse catch took an improbable comeback story and nearly squashed it in the flukiest way possible. Why address a travesty that almost was? That Kearse catch is a perfect metaphor for every Pats fan’s 2015 offseason.
Jermaine Kearse caught a ball from Russell Wilson long after the Patriots assumed the play dead. It bobbled in the air, bounced off some limbs and seemed to place the Patriots in the losers column. After coming so close to sewing Super Bowl 49 up, New England now had to deal with this new unlikely circumstance.
Since 2007, all Patriots fans have heard from just about any fan of any NFL team was that the Patriots cheated, and that they were fans of “the Cheatriots.” The most commonly asked question seemed to be “Why haven’t you won since Spygate?” which bellowed from everyone who was quick to point out how the Patriots couldn’t get it done without cheating. The 2014-15 New England Patriots finally had an offense and defense that looked like it could get the job done. Despite a lackluster two and two start, the Pats abused the Bengals in week five and never looked back. The Patriots played exceptional football and gave hope to many that finally, the Patriots we’re ready to get their fourth ring.
After winning the AFC Championship, the Patriots were ready to squash their doubters and regain the respect of the league, then came the “Kearse catch” known as Deflategate. Suddenly, New England, who had spent the entire season showing everyone that Brady still had “it” and that they were ready to move forward from the tarnish of Spygate, had a new enemy. This enemy robbed New England fans of the offseason glory they dreamed about since their team had been flummoxed long ago with camera themed controversy.
To compound the lunacy of Deflategate, free agency was about to land a huge left hook to Patriots nation. Patriots fans were treated to the loss of their entire cornerback squad. The once lauded Darrelle Revis returned to the New York Jets, leaving Bellichick and company to quickly jettison Brandon Browner and not too long after Kyle Arrington. The loss of Revis cannot be understated as he is an exceptional athlete and possibly the best defensive back in the NFL. Browner and Arrington were complimentary pieces that no longer seemed to fit.
Things did not get better for Pats fans. Soon the Wells report was released, and it was followed by the most outrageous penalty in NFL history. In one fell swoop, the Patriots lost their 2016 first round draft pick, their 2017 fourth round draft pick, $1,000,000 and 4 time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady, for the first four games of the season.
As the new NFL season finally approaches, Pats fans are left with the same gnawing, aching feeling of thievery they received after Kearse made that clumsy catch. Patriots nation was so very close to the end of Spygate and all the negativity that came with it, only to have Deflategate bobble its way into the collective consciousness of the other 31 teams and their fan bases. Respect is bigger than any Super Bowl or any championship, it’s something that every team wants and every fan needs. The big question is, will the 2015-2016 season bring to Patriot fans the “Malcolm Butler interception” that they all crave?