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Patriots should be appreciated, not jeered

DeflateGate and SpyGate. These are the two common refrains from the so-called haters of the New England Patriots. Everyone loves to hate them, unless you live in the greater Boston area. Then there are gods in cleats and hoodies.

It’s amazing, the sports culture we live in. So many on social media and the blogosphere live to tear down great athletes and teams, only to muse about the greater days of yesteryear when they are either vanquished or no more. The Patriots are at the epicenter of that conundrum, and it’s a shame. For all their warts, and they have many, this is a team that deserves to be celebrated in their time.

New England was a nothing organization before Mo Lewis crushed Drew Bledsoe, forcing second-year backup Tom Brady into action. That was back in September 2001. Since the beginning of that season, the Patriots are without a single losing season. They have a combined record of 182-58 and have won four Super Bowls, all in the salary cap era.

Perhaps the most amazing stat for a team in a sport that screams about its parity? Over the last 15 seasons, the Patriots have been to six Super Bowls and a staggering 10 AFC Championship Games, including the previous five. Oh, and they have won 13 AFC East titles.

Beyond all of the team’s collective success is the masthead of the group. Head coach Bill Belichick is a living legend, destined to go down alongside the hallowed names of Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, Don Shula and George Halas. Belichick is a mastermind on both sides of the ball. He cut his teeth with the New York Giants under Bill Parcells, working as a defensive coordinator. In that time, he won Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990, beating some of the greatest offenses of all-time.

Now, Belichick is the only coach with four Super Bowl rings not named Noll.

Then there is Brady. Say what you will about air pressure, but he’s the greatest quarterback to strap ’em up since Joe Montana. The 39-year-old is a four-time champion, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, has led the league in passing twice, been named to four All-Pro teams and 11 Pro Bowls, and earned the Most Valuable Player award twice.

While the NFL is weighted toward pass-happy offenses, Brady’s numbers still border on the absurd. He’s thrown for 58,028 yards and 428 touchdowns against 150 interceptions. All of this without one competent wide receiver his entire career save Randy Moss.

This is a team we will never see again. It’s the perfect blend of many factors, including a great head coach, legendary quarterback, poor division and a litany of great drafting and good health. New England is the ultimate anomaly and the quintessential example of taking advantage of your moment.

Love them or hate them, you have to respect the Patriots.

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