State of the Patriots' Nation, Part 1: Addressing the Hate

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When the New England Patriots’ Bandwagon of Hate leaves the station in early September it’s gonna be full – as always.  They’ve even added a press car.

But this year, with all of the questions and injury concerns, attrition and a draft that confused many, scores of journalists and gleeful football enthusiasts who believe that the Patriots time as rulers of the AFC East and subsequent contenders for a title has truly come to an end are jumping on that bandwagon…


…and that’s ok.  Sports journalists realize that their shelf life is only secure as long as they stay in the median, venturing out into traffic only to spew their bile of negativity to conform to – and at times to become the talisman for – public opinion.

So when Tom Brady gets old and the Patriots experience some turnover and their draft produces depth instead of instant starters, it’s common for the press to merge into mainstream traffic and start trashing the Pats.

But an interesting thing happens when you start to doubt Bill Belichick.  Anxiety creeps up on you, realizing even as you speak or write for public record that there is every chance that Belichick is going to pull another rabbit out of his hoodie and make you look like a fool…

…in which case your smooth merge into mainstream traffic turns into a nightmare of swerving into oncoming traffic and getting squashed like a roach by the Belichick steamroller.  And the people who believed your swill from the start will start to doubt you – that is, until you explain that football prognostication is not an exact science and, besides, you’re dealing with the most volatile soul in all of sports.

And then people will believe you again, because Belichick is secretive and a known non-conformist who befriends jaded, washed up rock stars and whose idea of letting his hair down is sitting on his boat with his girlfriend and posting random cryptic tweets while the cabin boy gently handles the gin and meticulously stuffs imported greek olives with fresh-roasted pimentos.

Ah, madness. Where have you been hiding?  I have so missed your quality delusions – but now that we are approaching the start of Organized Team Activities, it is time to shake the cobwebs and take an objective, realistic view at how the Patriots look in relation to the curve, using the negativity of the hired help as a base from which to proceed…

…because all they can be sure of is that there will be 11 guys on defense, 11 guys on offense with AARP members Tom Brady and Bill Belichick running the show when the opening whistle blows – other than that, there are no guarantees.  And that kind of ambiguity scares folks who rely on things staying the same, never changing, never evolving….

And it’s not like things will be changing that much anyway, despite the turnover at the receiver positions, because that’s all that’s really changed.  Besides Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, every single starter in the AFC Title game is back, and while many in both the media and around the water cooler point to Welker’s defection as the death nail for the Patriots’ coffin, the simple fact of the matter is that the worst that will happen is that Brady will have to go back to his mantra of his favorite receiver being “The Open Receiver”, instead of being locked in on Welker…

…and that subject alone deserves it’s own headline, which it will get as part of this nine part examination of the New England Patriots and their detractors in this 2013 offseason, the series entitled “Addressing the Hate”, where fact will battle fiction, stats will be thrown out the window and we go mano-a-mano with the haters.

And we’ll begin on Thursday by tackling the receivers, so to speak, provided we can catch the speedy little buggers…

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