In Africa, the Patriots are Undefeated
Guest post courtesy of Brian “Class” Callahan
Bill Simmons’ Super Bowl XLVI mailbag opens with readers making the case that a Patriots win this time around will not avenge the loss in Super Bowl XLII, or the loss of perfection, or the game that made us, as one of my roommates likes to say, the worst 18-1 team of all time (Editor’s note: Indeed, 1985 Bears > 2007 Patriots). I beg to differ.
If the Patriots lose tonight, I will be one of many devastated Patriots fans, not the least because I will have to wear an ugly pullover embossed with the Giants’ logo for the next five days at work. The failure to seize the chance of revenge for one of the biggest blows in sports history will feel like an episode of repeated grief. In other words, another loss to the Yankees in the ALCS, another twist in a wound that becomes opened for a Boston fan at birth (at least those born before 1993). If a loss comes tonight, the pain will be brutal. As a diaspora of fatalistic fans, the low of defeat for Boston fans may outweigh the high of winning. Case in point, once the Red Sox are out of the playoffs, the team that is playing the Yankees becomes my dad’s favorite team. To be honest, I don’t know if my dad enjoys the Yankees losing more than the Red Sox winning. If tonight does not end favorably for the Patriots, there is no hope of a future New York loss. Everything is packed into this moment. We may have to live with the fact that the sweet taste of revenge we savored in 2004 may be ours for the taking for a moment and gone.
A win, on the other hand, may never shut up the people who call one of the greatest coaches in any sport a miserly cheater, cannot appreciate one of the greatest performers at one of the most difficult positions in any sport, or change what happened in 2008. But it will feel damn good. The Patriots may not be America’s team anymore, but they are a group who still sing the praises of their coach above any individual accomplishments and who will come out on Sunday as a close-knit unit ready to leave their collective soul on the turf of Indianapolis. They are not heroes, they are not Jesus, and they are not undefeated. They are a football team. And when it’s all said and done, you may just well call them a dynasty.