This year’s Patriots were so perfectly Boston.
In beating the Falcons in Super Bowl LI Sunday night in Houston, the Pats extended their middle finger to the rest of the NFL, just like Bostonians enjoy nothing more than giving the rest of the country a giant F-U at every opportunity.
Now, Bill Belichick has always been one of us. He’s gritty, he’s no nonsense, he doesn’t care about what the rest of the country thinks of him, and most important, he has that Will Hunting, I’m-so-much-smarter-than-you-it’s-not-even-funny air about him. We love that.
Well, with his record fifth Super Bowl win Sunday night (seven in total if you want to count his time as an assistant with the Giants), there is absolutely no doubt any more. Belichick is the greatest football coach who ever lived.
As for Tom Brady, as hard as it is to recall a time like this today in 2017 – Brady wasn’t exactly always “one of us.”
In 2011, ESPN.com published an article with a headline that read, “The growing gulf between Tom Brady and his fans.” The sub-hed of the article simply read, “Bradywood.” There were similar articles published about glamor-boy Tom in the mid-2000s.
In the ESPN piece, New England Sports Museum curator Dick Johnson was quoted as saying, “I don’t think anyone could imagine having a beer with Tom Brady. There’s a distance there.”
Suffolk University historian Robert Allison also talked about why many Boston fans were hesitant to go all-in on perfect Tom in the ESPN piece.
“We like people who have flaws,” Allison said. “Because we have flaws.”
At this time, Brady was married to Gisele, he did Uggs commercials and he vacationed in Costa Rica, not the Cape. It wasn’t exactly Larry Bird pounding Bud Heavys with fans at the Scotch ‘n Sirloin kind of stuff.
But then, Deflategate happened, and Brady got absolutely rail-roaded.
Brady suddenly had A-holes in New York (of all places) telling him that he – perfect Tom - was in the wrong and that he would have to go to court to attempt to prove his innocence.
It had finally happened. The jealousy of the rest of the country and the rest of the NFL toward the Pats had gotten so out of hand, so out of whack – that alternative facts were created by league higher-ups in order to “get Tom” and in order to “get” the Patriots.
Brady was dragged through the mud on a global stage, and during that time, something funny happened. Brady became a certified Bostonian.
Boston rallied behind Brady like no other athlete in the history of this city. “Brady!, Brady!, Brady!” chants became the norm at home games, and “12” became Boston’s favorite number.
Ten years ago you could walk around Gillette and there were be a potpourri of player jerseys. Hey, there’s a Brady jersey. Hey, there’s a Bruschi jersey. Hey, there’s a Harrison jersey. Hey, there’s a Moss jersey. Hey, there’s a Laurence Maroney jersey.
Now? I’d say the ratio is 15 Brady jerseys for every one “other.”
Having won his fifth Super Bowl trophy – the most ever for a QB – on Sunday, Brady cemented himself as the greatest quarterback of all-time. The combination of his career stats and the number of wins and rings he now owns makes that a terribly hard case to argue against.
But even before Sunday’s victory, Brady had laid claim to another exclusive title: Most beloved Boston athlete of all-time.
It took that endless poop-storm known as Deflategate to get here, but here we are.
Now? It’s time to crush some celebratory Bud Heavys with No. 12 in this parade coming up.