We’ve seen dominant, dynastic runs before in the modern sports era.
Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won six titles in eight years.
The Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in seven years.
The New York Yankees, from 1996-2003, dominated baseball, going to the World Series six times in eight years and winning four titles.
But we’ve never seen a dynasty like the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick, which has gone to eight Super Bowls in his 18 years. And the length of their dynasty is why fatigue is setting in, and the NFL has a stale situation on their hands.
The Super Bowl between the Patriots and Eagles could be great. In fact, it probably will be, as all of New England’s seven Super Bowl games have been very competitive. The problem is New England’s unprecedented run of sustained success has pushed the NFL’s best stories the last two years – Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott at the Cowboys; Deshaun Watson and all the talented young QBs – to the backburner again, and the media’s forced to reheat warmed-over leftovers.
The Patriots are a stale storyline.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick – the public has heard all of the angles. Yes, they’re the best. There’s nobody to compare them to. They’re in their own galaxy of GOAT greatness. Who is likable on this team? Rob Gronkowski and … that’s it?
Many stars who have enjoyed prolonged success have had to struggle before reaching the top of the mountain. Michael Jordan languished in the East for years before breaking through (at a fortuitous time when Larry Bird was a shell of his former self, and Isaiah Thomas had retired). LeBron had to leave Cleveland to find success in Miami.
There’s been no struggle for the Patriots. Tom Brady filled in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and won a Super Bowl. Then won another. And now he’s got five. Sure, he was a 6th round draft pick, and that narrative is well-worn.
The Patriots are embroiled in scandals. They get all the calls. How’s this – in the two biggest games of the year, the Patriots were barely flagged for penalties in a season when referees were (unfortunately) a recurring theme. In Pittsburgh: Two penalties for four yards; vs. Jacksonville: One penalty for 10 yards.
Absolutely best-case scenario for the NFL: The Eagles shock the world and win the Super Bowl, it sends the Patriots into an offseason tailspin, Belichick retires or goes to another team, and Tom Brady finally loses his battle with Father Time.
It’s time for the focus of the NFL to be the new blood. New storylines. New stars.