KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tom Brady has it all wrong:
It’s not that America thinks the Patriots will lose. It’s that America wants the Patriots to lose.
The AFC Championship game will be played Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium, hours before a super blood moon lunar eclipse. It will be a celestial event in every way. Planets are aligned and the whole football world will be watching.
Fourteen hundred miles east of Kansas City, almost every television in New England will be locked in on CBS. If you’re behind on food shopping, this might be a good time to visit your local supermarket. Not many local creatures will be stirring while the Patriots are playing the Chiefs. Your snowy neighborhood streets will be empty.
The Patriots this past week successfully galvanized their rabid, loyal legion by playing the underdog card. Brady announced that “everyone thinks we suck, and can’t win any games,’’ and the QB’s words inspired Patriot Nation to circle bandwagons like never before.
In truth, you can’t find any reasonable fan or pundit who believes the Patriots suck, but what is true is that fans outside of New England want the Patriots to lose.
More than ever.
And it makes tiny, tribal New England more attached to its team than ever.
Us against the world works every time.
On Friday I Googled “America Hates New England Patriots” and more than 30 million matches popped up in 0.72 seconds. Leading the infinite list was “Breaking: Study Finds America Hates Patriots More Than Any Other NFL Team.’’ The month-old item featured a 2018 NFL “Hate Map” in which a sports analytics site geotagged Twitter data and determined that the Patriots were the most hated team in 14 of 50 states. The Patriots were most hated in New York, Florida, and the entire heartland, including Kansas and Missouri.
This is not an isolated sample, people.
The Associated Press on Friday released a weekend playoff preview headlined, “Sorry America, team you love to hate headed to the Super Bowl.’’
Just last month, in the hours after the Patriots’ hideous loss to the Dolphins, Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal scripted a piece headlined, “Beautiful Schadenfreude for Patriot Haters,’’ and wrote, “today’s column is for . . . the millions of football hearts the Brady-Belichick Patriots have been shattering for almost 20 years. This one is for all of the Pats Haters on the planet — who were legion and traumatized, but are suddenly very, very amused. Was the ending to the Patriots-Dolphins game Sunday one of the most hilarious and deeply satisfying moments in sports history. Or in all of human history?’’
For hyperbole, that one was right up there with Shane Ryan’s essay in last February’s Golf Digest (yes, Golf Digest), headlined, “Do Americans hate the Patriots more than they hated the Soviet Union national teams?’’ Ryan wrote, “The New England Patriots, in their current form, have become the most hated American sports entity ever . . . the only redeeming story about Vladimir Putin is the time he stole Bob Kraft’s Super Bowl ring.’’ Ryan harpooned, “A coach whose surly arrogance knows no bounds, a mindless unkillable quarterback who hocks snake oil when he’s not deflating footballs, the kind of absurd good luck that makes you think Earth is a digital simulation run by cruel teen hackers, and an entitled fan base made of insufferable truthers.’’
Wow. And you think Max Kellerman is tough?
Here in New England, we know the reason for all this. It’s jealousy, pure and simple.
It’s Patriot Fatigue Syndrome. It’s like tuning into the Oscars and seeing that Meryl Streep has been nominated for best actress again. You root for somebody else, anybody, because Streep is always there.
The Patriots frustrate NFL America because they will not go away. Not even when they are behind, 28-3, in a Super Bowl.
And now here they are again.
Jermaine Wiggins had it right four years ago at the Patriots’ Super Bowl sendoff rally when he told the crowd, “They hate us because they ain’t us.’’
Massholes unite. Embrace the hate. Nobody thinks your team sucks. But everybody (outside of New England) wants the Patriots to lose.
That’s what makes victory so much sweeter.