New England Patriots: Why fans should enjoy these games while they last

New England Patriots Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New England Patriots Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have been on top of the world for almost two decades now. But how much longer will fans be watching AFC Championships every year?

You’ve heard all the stats and the numbers. Seven straight AFC Championship Games. Five Super Bowl rings. Fifteen division titles. The New England Patriots under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going through the greatest of stretch of any team in NFL history.

Ever since 2001, the Patriots have dominated and the fans are reaping the benefits. Rooting for the Patriots makes you seem like the most obnoxious, spoiled, pampered kid you could think of. If we wanted ice cream before dinner the Patriots would give us the finest Italian gelato. If we wanted to stay up five more minutes before bed the Patriots would let us watch any R-rated movie.

But things were not always so giddy.

Prior to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

Before Brady and Belichick arrived, the Patriots were the one of the laughing stocks of the NFL. Those old enough to remember wish they couldn’t. If we’re sticking with the same analogy, Patriots fans pre-B&B were the homeless kid on the side of the street you wouldn’t want to get within five feet of.

From the AFL-NFL merger through 2000, the Patriots were 215-243 (.469). They went 0-2 in the Super Bowl and made the playoffs 9 times in 31 seasons. In 17 seasons with Brady and Belichick, the Patriots have gone 209-63 (.768). They are 5-2 in Super Bowls and made the playoffs 15 times in 17 seasons.

Now, the Patriots are heading into their eighth Super Bowl. The AFC East looks no better than it did ten years ago and Tom Brady is the MVP favorite at age 40. What’s not to love as a Pats fan? Why should we have any reason to worry?

I hate to break it to you, but this year’s season proved the New England Patriots excellence as much as it did their eventual downfall.

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The Jaguars looked very impressive and are a quarterback away from being the favorite against the Patriots. The Texans looked unbeatable with DeShaun Watson. Don’t think the Steelers are going away.

And obviously, the number one thing everyone will point to is the ESPN article about the rifts between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft. A significant portion of that article has exaggerated points or overemphasized moments. It isn’t the main reason why the Patriots are nearing the end.

The real usurper won’t be the egos of the three most prestigious members in the history of the Patriots organization nor the aspirations of a personal trainer. No, the real culprit will be a familiar name to many: Father Time.

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The end of an era?

Brady is 40. Belichick is 65. Bob Kraft is 76. How many years do we have left of perennial 13-3 records and championship parades? 5? 3? 0?

There is absolutely no precedent to a dynasty lasting this long. Just about zero quarterbacks have played into their mid-40s nevermind excelled at that age. For now, the Patriots have no insurance and just went through the easist path to the Super Bowl they’ve ever had. Not to mention they were a couple plays away from going home.

Listen, I know these aren’t the types of topics people like to talk about the day after a huge win. It seems cynical to immediately focus on the negative aspect of an extremely positive event. But here it is in all caps for you: ENJOY THIS BEFORE ITS TOO LATE.

Don’t take anything that happens in the next two weeks for granted. Don’t ignore all the pregame festivities. Don’t ignore the twelve hour pregame show. Don’t miss any opportunities to tell everybody you are a Patriots fan. This could be the last time we get to rub it in to the faces of our enemies.

When the Patriots take the field in two weeks, treat this Super Bowl like the first one you’ve ever seen. Try to remember how fun it was in 2001 when the underdog who never wins pulled one out. Try to remember the amazing fourth quarters against Seattle and Atlanta when the greatest quarterback of all time overcame one of the best defenses and deficits. Don’t be afraid to be nostalgic in the moment.

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Remember, we’re living in the golden years right now. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won’t be here forever.