It’s every Indiana resident’s territorial right to despise the New England Patriots.
However, it’s become evident that the urge to roll one’s eyes at the sight of something as simple as a hooded sweatshirt has made it across state lines.
The Pats are America’s Team, as in America’s Most Hated Team.
And it’s not even close.
A combination of factors contribute to this distinction. Most are traced to the collective arrogance of the New England franchise and its minions, people unaware that in a matter of days six different NFL franchises (and eight teams) will have won Super Bowls more recently than their heroes.
Let us, however, begin our study on the West Coast, home of the once-loathed Oakland Raiders.
Delusional owner Al Davis passed away 15 months ago, but even during his final nine years alive the franchise had taken irrelevancy to new levels with a sequence of coaching changes and draft selections.
Quick, name a current Raiders player not named Carson Palmer or Sebastian Janikowski.
I rest my case.
Not having ample reason to dislike or even remotely fear the Raiders opened the door for a successor. And just like that, in walked Bill Belichick wearing the facial expression of someone trying to digest sour milk.
The New England coach’s I’m-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room act grew tired long ago. Belichick is no doubt one of the best coaches in league history, but the same could be said for George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Joe Gibbs, Bill Walsh and a host of others who I’m guessing weren’t nearly as insufferable.
Belichick’s smugness coupled with a refusal to speak with networks following a difficult loss such as last week’s AFC Championship Game make it seem as though he’s actually trying to be disliked.
Maybe he is. It could be that the us-versus-them mindset is what helps fuel the franchise.
Even so, it’s puzzling as to why Patriots’ lone likable entity, grandfatherly owner Robert Kraft, doesn’t force Belichick to give the network airing the game a few minutes of his precious time.
It’s not like he’s going to be giving away any franchise secrets.
”We missed too many opportunities.”
”The Ravens are a great football team.”
”Best of luck to them in the Super Bowl.”
There was a time when not being able to stand the Patriots was a three-pronged venture: Belichick-Tom Brady-Tedy Bruschi. The latter’s retirement following the 2008 season reduced it to two, and now Brady and his coach are 35 and 60, respectively.
It won’t be long before Brady is done skipping Pro Bowls and Belichick interviews while their owner looks the other way. Then what are rabid Indianapolis Colts fans to do?
Given the cyclical nature of professional sports, maybe the Oakland Raiders will be back vying for AFC titles by then.
And to think I nearly managed to keep a straight face all the way to the end while typing the previous sentence.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.