The New England Patriots are a polarizing team. That’s not breaking news. Many people are sick of seeing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick ply their crafts in the Super Bowl. This is the eighth time the franchise has earned its way to football’s biggest game since 2002. Some fatigue would be expected, even without all the baggage New England has accumulated through the years.
Still, it’s a bit jarring to see so many people bemoaning their fate of sitting through another Patriots-involved Super Bowl — considering how consistently entertaining the previous seven have been.
One could argue that the Patriots’ dynasty has dovetailed neatly with the Super Bowl’s transformation from annual blowout to compelling theater. Some of that is a coincidence, but New England has done more than its fair share in the drama department.
In the first 35 Super Bowls played before Brady’s first, the average margin of victory was 16.3 points. Since then, the 16 Super Bowls have been much tighter (9.5 average margin). New England’s seven appearances have a total margin of 26 points (3.7/game). The Patriots have won three by three, one by four, and one by six (in overtime). They’ve lost one by three and another by four, both to the New York Giants.
Patriots games have featured game-winning field goals with no time remaining and four seconds remaining. They’ve featured the David Tyree catch, an accidental game-winning touchdown, and a puking quarterback, allegedly. They’ve featured Malcolm Butler’s incredible interception and an absurd 25-point comeback.
And yet as they hold their arms out a la Maximus in Gladiator, some are still not entertained. My question to those would be: what else would you like the Patriots to do?
You can hate the players. You can hate the coaches and owners and the fan base. But if you’ve been hating the games, then you’re not really trying too hard to enjoy them.