3 comments on “Why All Neutral Fans Should Want The Patriots to Win The Super Bowl

  1. First off, I agree that the DeflateGate/Ballghazi discussion is mostly nonsense. While it’s quite possible that something nefarious happened, it’s not as if it had a material impact on the AFC Championship game. Positing theories about how the balls ended up well below the accepted level of inflation is fun, I guess, but mostly just an empty exercise in hypothesizing. The rest of this piece, though, I find preposterous.

    The greatness of Red Auerbach can not, and should not be diminished or forgotten, even as his achievements slip ever further into the murky reaches of history. While I appreciate any attempt to remind us of his singular greatness, comparing Bill Belichick and the modern Patriots to Auerbach and the late 50s-60s Celtics is a complete and utter farce.

    Setting aside relative amounts of success and dominance (eight titles in a row for Auerbach, and 11 in 13 years for the team he assembled in that era, plus another five titles as team president versus three titles in 15 years for Belichick, with a potential fourth this season), Auerbach is a singular figure in NBA history in a way that Belichick can not, and will not match. Beyond just being a great coach and general manager, Auerbach was a man of tremendous character. Despite intense pressure from within the league and from society as a whole, he made Bill Russell the centerpiece of his team, furnishing the NBA with its first African-American who was truly a superstar. Auerbach also eschewed the unspoken quota system within the league, drafting and playing multiple other African-Americans at a time when most teams were unwilling to have more than two on their roster. The Celtics were the first team to regularly start five African-Americans, and it pays to remember that this is in the same city where the Red Sox were the last MLB team to integrate.

    Most of all, Auerbach treated his players with love, and consideration. There’s no doubt he could be hard on them, and cheap (money was tight in the early days of the NBA), but there’s also no doubt that he cared deeply about them, and the love was most assuredly returned. His relationship with Russell, a deeply complex and complicated man, should illustrate that.

    Meanwhile, Bill Belichick’s most noteworthy accomplishments beyond victories include illegally taping the opposing team’s defensive signals, pursuing several married women, and treating his players like chattel. That’s not to diminish his success, but that success has been achieved by a person who is extremely hard to like.

    Contrast that with his counterpart in the Super Bowl. Pete Carroll is no saint, clearly. His time at USC is certainly marked by scandal (and a lot of winning), but there’s also a case to be made that the NCAA’s regulations are so inane that NOT breaking them is almost impossible. Whatever the case, Carroll is almost an exact opposite of Belichick in every way. Where Belichick is surly, and stoic, and rarely offers an actual opinion on anything, Carroll is talkative, friendly, and energetic. Belichick treats his players like fungible and interchangeable parts, while Carroll actually engages with his, celebrating with them when they do well and consoling them when they struggle.

    Whenever he retires, Belichick will be remembered as both a great coach, but also something of a tyrant: overly obsessive in an industry that thrives on just that. Despite building a tremendous franchise, his willingness to do almost anything for a slight advantage will reflect not a competitive spirit but a sickness. He’ll have his rings, and his place in Canton, but it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be beloved in the way that a Lombardi, or a Landry, or a Shula is. It’s a bit harder to predict what Carroll’s legacy will be, but with a second consecutive Super Bowl win he’d certain enter a rarefied circle for NFL coaches.

    As best I can tell, your rationale for encouraging people to root for the Patriots is that they’ve won a lot and are now being targeted by the media. The first part of that claim seems pretty silly to me: while another title might further cement Belichick and Brady as all-time greats, it’s hard to imagine why anyone besides Boston fans should care. The second part would perhaps be more tenable to me if it wasn’t for the fact that Belichick and the Patriots have brought this upon themselves. Between Spygate, their utter unwillingness to be remotely truthful with their injury report, and Belichick’s obvious disdain for the media, they’re most certainly only reaping what they’ve sown. The benefit of the doubt doesn’t apply to those who’ve long since lost it.

    Lastly, this line seems particularly ridiculous: “But they’re not going to be able to compete with the combination of a furious Patriots team and a Brady hungry for his last great chance at a fourth Super Bowl ring.” The Seahawks have held a lead in 54 consecutive games, an NFL record. They’ve yet to lose a game by double digits since Russell Wilson joined the team (that same time span). It’s certainly quite possible the Patriots could win, as the teams seem relatively evenly matched, but predicting a blowout of the magnitude you’re talking about seems thoroughly outlandish, especially when the only reasoning behind it is “the Patriots are mad, and motivated.” Pretty sure the Seahawks have plenty of motivation too: it’s the freaking Super Bowl, after all.

    • Though my own opinion of Belichick as a person is a bit less harsh than yours seems to be, of course I agree that Auerbach would, hands-down, win either a “better person” test or a test of who had more cultural relevance. They’re not at all comparable in those realms. Auerbach would also be a media star in today’s environment – the man would talk for ages – while Belichick is, shall we say, far from that. But in two other ways, I believe the two coaches to be very similar: Most importantly, Belichick, like Auerbach, is a master of gamesmanship to the point where opponents worry about his tactics even when he’s not using any unusual tactics, and this in and of itself can throw a team off its game. Teams get caught up worrying about what Belichick might plan instead of focusing on the best way to just plain win the game. Secondly, my prediction is that 50 years from now Belichick’s legacy will be that of a great coach and, much like Auerbach, the controversies surrounding him will be considered footnotes rather than the main thrust of the man’s story. We won’t know if this proves correct for decades.

      We’ll know if my prediction for the game proves correct in eight days. I did see this as a complete toss-up until all the ridiculousness about balls came up. And I still give the Seahawks an excellent shot to prevail. But if I’m making a prediction, I do now predict that the most likely outcome is a lopsided Patriots win. We’ll see. It’s a fantastic matchup of a pair of deserving teams.

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