Enjoyment Not An Option For Some When Following Patriots

In a way, it’s really a shame that the Patriots have set the bar so high on a year-to-year basis. Basically, if they don’t win the Super Bowl, the season is a failure, and anything they accomplished along the way is meaningless.

This mindset does not allow for appreciation of wins such as we’ve seen the last three weeks. Rather than looking at each game individually, the mindset instead looks at each game as an indicator of whether the team can be considered a true championship contender or not, and in doing so, focus is placed on the flaws, on the negative aspects of the game (“If they needed a comeback like that to beat the Cleveland Browns, they are in real trouble!”)

It is absolutely true that winning a championship is, of course, the stated goal of each season. In the early part of the last decade, the Patriots made it look easy, winning three Super Bowls in four seasons. Their failure to win one since then has been thrown back at them and their fans with increasing ferocity.

The focus on that big picture takes away the ability to appreciate what we see on a week to week basis. The wins against Denver and Cleveland, and to a lesser extent, Houston, if you just look at them from an entertainment and fan perspective were amazing. How many quarterbacks and teams in the NFL are even capable of pulling out wins like those? Each week as you watch other NFL games, do you see a team mismanaging the clock, or other game management scenarios and know that it likely would be different here? Are you capable of appreciating what you have, rather than howling about the play-calling, or engaging in this constant talk about how the draft has been bungled year after year?

After a win like that, do you say “Wow, I can’t believe they pulled that one out?” Or do you say, “Man, Josh Gordon ran all over them, and they needed a gift pass interference call from the refs to beat a lousy team?” or “I’d liked for them to have pulled off the comeback without a questionable call in their favor.” or “I don’t like winning this way.” I’m not saying doing the latter makes you less of a fan, but it does make me question how much you actually enjoy watching the team play. OK, strike that, if winning like that is not enjoyable to you, then why are you watching at all?

It doesn’t help that we have media members in town who actively troll fans on Twitter during the game, and then attack the fans in columns after the game. I don’t get it. Well, I do. Trolling is now an accepted form of getting attention, even if you look and sound like a complete moron. It’s sports radio, taken to 140 character chunks.

This media trolling takes a few forms: Mocking the expectations. Taking any credit away from the team for the end result. Insulting fans directly, accusing them of being overly sensitive, and then playing the innocent victim when any backlash comes their way.

It’s fair to question when things don’t go well. Being critical is OK when it is called for. But when the franchise has been the most successful in the league for a dozen years now, it’s also OK to sit back and appreciate what happens week-to-week without being angry and thinking only about how they’re probably not going to win the Super Bowl this year.

Speaking of that – when Rob Gronkowski went down on Sunday, I had the same thought many of you probably did – season over. The team’s Super Bowl hopes may have indeed been ended with that play, but if the last three weeks have taught us anything about this team, it is that they will fight to the very end, and will not quit playing even when the odds (and the scoreboard) are stacked against them.

That’s admirable. Try and enjoy what’s left of the season if you can. It may go against your nature, or against the tide of what gets shoved down your throat on the airwaves, print and web, but just sit back and appreciate what you have here.

While it is still here. Because it won’t always be.

  • OpinionNotFact

    It’s 100% a function of new media. Sports are now covered and dissected 24 hours a day so every last tiny little insignificant happening (or non-happening) gets blown up.
    Stories like “Hey, how fun was that win?” get way less clicks than “Oh no, the sky is falling”.
    Also, part of this has to be on crazy success of the team. They’ve given their fans no reason to not expect a title every year, as nuts as that is.

  • Bob

    I am guilty of this. Great article. When Brady and Belichek go we’ll appreciate what we had.

  • sjc6224

    Bravo. Well said. This season has been great. The only unfortunate part has been the injuries. They probably won’t win the Super Bowl but they will be competitive until they are eliminated no matter which player is on the field. And even if they were at full strength and nobody killed anyone in the offseason, they probably wouldn’t win the Super Bowl. The playoffs are random. The Ravens were hurt and limited going into last year. The Giants were the year before. The best teams aren’t more likely to win in today’s NFL. Might as well enjoy the team before this era ends.

  • Oswee Larvey Hald

    @firemazz

  • Kathy Kulesza

    Thanks for writing this. I’m old enough to remember when the Patriots went 1-15 and 2-14 so this era is golden. I’m surprised at the difference in coverage between the Red Sox and Patriots. If the Sox have a come from behind win they are considered gritty or gutsy. If the Patriots come from behind they stink.

  • J.R.

    Twenty years ago the perennial top teams in the AFC and NFC were the Bills and Cowboys, respectively. Both teams have pretty much been basket cases and primarily irrelevant (especially the Bills) since. My point? How’d you like to be fans of those franchises?
    This decades-plus sustained level of excellence by the Pats in a league that bends over backwards to restrict — if not eliminate — just such success from happening has been simply amazing and enjoyable to watch — especially for fans who remember the Rod Rust (and earlier) incarnations of this franchise.
    Will/can they win a Super Bowl this season? Who knows? Let’s continue to watch, enjoy what we have, and find out. As Carly Simon sang in a song, “these are the good old days.”

    • Brian Shea

      As Carly Simon sang in another song, “Nobody Does it Better”. Since 2001, this team has won 10 division titles, won 3 Super Bowls, went to 5 Super Bowls, and to 7 AFC Championship games. That’s #1 in the league over that span for all those categories. They’re #1 in the league over that span for wins. That includes an NFL record 21 game winning streak as well as an undefeated regular season.

      And around here, the way the media treats them, you’d think they were the Bills, who haven’t made the playoffs once during that entire stretch.

      • bsmfan

        You two above summarized it perfectly, as have others commenting in the thread. The reason many teams could also dominate for so long was lack of parity. How many can we say, outside the Patriots and maybe the Steelers up until two years ago, can say the same in this era with cap/draft/parity?

        This ‘parity’ thing.. kinda like the NHL has, is here to stay. I’m a fan of parts of it but not where it looked like what the NBA was before the recent CBA (NBA is in for some horrible years with the new CBA handicaps). You at least get a double-digit figure of contenders with things like the NHL/NFL but that has to do with the team part. Plus, we’ve had it easy in this division. At some point, one of the other 3 will be better and start their own runs.

        How miserable are the already miserable going to be once BB/12 are gone and this is over?

        Bruce r/t’d someone who put it best:

        @dkiesow: Short-term tricks to drive page views will never outlast the long-term damage they impart to reader trust and reputation.

  • DryHeave

    Fantastic column, Bruce…..as far as this >

    “It doesn’t help that we have media members in town who actively troll fans on Twitter during the game”

    You’ve got to be into self-torture to watch the game and be looking at Twitter at the same time. The comments are 98% knee-jerk reaction lunacy. and to be fair that goes for media AND some “fans”……. did it once, NEVER AGAIN. For me when the game goes on Twitter goes OFF.

  • goseebananafish

    Champions win. They win big, they win ugly, they win against strong opponents and weaker opponents, they win with injuries. To quote the great soccer chant: “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win”. It is a great feeling and no one in the media can take that away from us.

  • John Kelley

    If sports radio and twitter were around when Bird was making all those game winners all they’d be talking about is how they shouldn’t have put themselves into position to need a game winner. Sports are a lot more enjoyable when you ignore the media.

  • bsmfan

    Has anyone heard, in the past five years, of a writer from a ‘respectable’ or ‘major’ outlet getting fired for trolling?

    I’m not talking something offensive where you’re gonna have . I can’t think of any. In fact, it’s encouraged in the sports world. If anything, ESPN who could be seen as a bellwether for sports media, condones and encourages this.

    There used to be a professional code where you had some type of integrity and there was shame if you did something disrespectful like trolling, right?