There is only one team in the four major pro-sports leagues in the United States that has been dominant throughout the 21st century — the New England Patriots.
The team, lead by quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, will be competing for its sixth Super Bowl victory on Sunday night. If the Patriots win, they will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories for a single football team. Impressively, all Patriots wins have been with Brady and Belichick at the helm.
With the team’s success have also come blowback and controversy. There was deflategate. There was spygate. And now, for political reasons, a growing number of liberal writers are actively trying to get people to root against the Patriots.
A new poll from Monmouth University even found that 36 percent of Americans are rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles to win Sunday’s game, while only 16 percent want the Patriots to win.
Earlier this week, former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker coach Steve Spagnuolo accused the Patriots of cheating during the 2005 Super Bowl, a game in which the Patriots beat the Eagles, 24-21. Spagnuolo appeared on “The Fanatic” radio program in Philadelphia on Monday and said the Patriots cheated by stealing signs from the Eagles during that game.
There are two flaws in that assessment.
First, he has no proof the Patriots actually did this; he said he thought Brady got the ball out quickly on players where the Eagles blitzed. However, Brady has always gotten the ball out quickly — he reacts to pressure well.
The more important aspect, though, is there are no rules against stealing signs in the NFL. If a team does not want its signs stolen, it should probably do a better job of making them harder to steal — and change them up every now and then to confuse the opposition.
The Patriots have already dealt with their share of alleged cheating controversies. The most notable were spygate and deflategate; the Patriots were accused respectively of filming other teams’ practices and lowering the air pressure in footballs slightly in order to gain a competitive edge.
However, the Boston Herald reporter who accused the Patriots of cheating during spygate, John Tomase, later released an apology via the paper for his “false report.”
A Massachusetts seventh-grader, Ben Goodell, also debunked deflategate for a school science project by showing the impact that leaving a football out in the cold for two hours has on the PSI — pounds per square inch — of the football.
An MIT professor, John Leonard, later backed up young Goodell’s claims. Though he’s an Eagles fan, Leonard said the Patriots likely did not cheat.
In addition to being called cheaters multiple times, the Patriots often deal with a massive amount of negativity in the media. Monday was no different, as Brady ended his weekly interview with WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan Show” early because co-host Alex Reimer called the quarterback’s five-year-old daughter a “pissant” on the air. Reimer’s comment was in response to a Facebook video that showed Brady’s daughter saying she wanted to play soccer, not football.
Brady stuck to his principles and cut the interview short.
“I’ll obviously evaluate whether I want to come on this show again, so I really don’t have much to say this morning. So, maybe I’ll speak with you guys some other time,” said Brady.
The Patriots are often labeled an unwatchable and even racist team by left-wing media types because Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft have all been friends with President Donald Trump for the past 15 years. Reporters routinely grill the three for Trump takes and often write hit pieces about the team. All three men have continuously avoided talking about politics as they try to keep the focus on football.
The hatred for the Patriots isn’t likely to stop soon, whether that hatred is shown by accusations of cheating or negativity from media. However, none of that has slowed the team down. It’s likely only fueled them — and could even fuel them to a sixth Super Bowl victory on Sunday.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.