So, here we are 2 season after the DeflateGate saga began, and the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. Back in the Super Bowl for an insane 7th time since 2001. The Patriots, most importantly Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, have been involved in 41% of the Super Bowls since the beginning of the millennium.
We all know it hasn't been all smooth sailing for the Patriots, but I doubt you would be able to find a New England fan that cares about anything other than the rings. From the "Tuck Rule" to "SpyGate" and now "Deflategate," the willingness of Belichick to push, and sometimes break, the rules has earned the Patriots a less than admired reputation around the league.
Owners and fans alike have been pushing for proper punishment of the Pats over the years, and they finally got it after the AFC Championship game against Indianapolis. As we all know, the Patriots were forced to forfeit a 1st and 4th round pick, $1 million and the most severe punishment being Tom Brady's 4 game suspension. A highly excessive penalty for something the league could not even prove they did.
Now that we're done with that lovely trip down memory lane, now that DeflateGate is officially over, where should New England fans stand? Since that fateful night in 2015, the Patriots have gone 26-6 in the regular season, 4-1 in the playoffs, with 1 Super Bowl victory, 1 AFC Championship appearance, and another Super Bowl appearance this year. There were actually people that thought this team was only good because they were deflating footballs. C'mon now.
Although the outcome wasn't what we all wanted, a 12-4 season with an AFC Championship appearance isn't too shabby coming off the biggest witch hunt in NFL history. Since the Pats didn't win the Super Bowl last season, fans have always been talking about Brady "sticking it to Goodell" by winning a Super Bowl after DeflateGate. However, people forget that they already did that in Arizona. That game was probably more scrutinized than any other game ever, and the Patriots came out on top.
So, what will a 5th championship title mean for this team and it's fan base?
We've heard time and again that Tom Brady's age will catch up to him, this is the year the Patriots hand over the division, that the Dolphins had a great offseason. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Insane sounds like the perfect word to describe the people that continuously expect the downfall of New England.
With the lack of a first round pick and Brady suspended for the first quarter of the season, surely this was the year the Bills, Dolphins or Jets could overtake New England. Some were more confident than others.
If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that it is a very bad idea to bet against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Goodell did all he could to cut the legs out from this team, and where are the Patriots now? 16-2 and playing in their 2nd Super Bowl in 3 years.
Hating the Patriots must be the most frustrating job in the world. 6 straight AFC Championship appearances, and now, after serving the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL, they are right back in the Super Bowl. It's no secret that many people were happy when Brady was forced to sit for 4 games. Unfortunately for those people, the "next man up" mentality worked like a charm, and the division was won before Brady even came back.
I understand that there will always be people that hate the Patriots no matter what happens, but I know that deep down they understand how great this team really is. They will never admit it, nor do we need them to, but no other team in history has been as dominant as the Patriots, even when facing the difficulties presented to them.
Until Tom Brady and Bill Belichick retires, there is nothing that can stop this team. Nothing. Let's appreciate it while we have it.
By Matt Watts