Tom Brady is often maligned, but he’s still one of the NFL’s best. Courtesy of Wikimedia.
Another season, another whirlwind of hate and accusations against the Evil Empire in New England from all non-Patriots fans. With the 28-21 dismantling of the Steelers—that really wasn’t as close as the margin of victory reflects—came accusations from Mike Tomlin and the Steelers that New England was purposefully tampering with the Steelers headsets with the intent to disrupt communication between Steelers coaches and players. Judging by how the NFL has handled past accusations of the Patriots’ cheating, fans will likely never know whether any foul play was involved, nor will we likely ever see New England punished, regardless of whether they cheated.
Since February, news of Deflate-gate and Brady’s looming suspension has dominated offseason banter, and Belichick and the Pats claim that they are sick of it. They have made it clear that they will not be taken down by Goodell’s NFL that has generated insane amounts of money but has been notoriously horrific when it comes to handing out penalties. Whether it is over punishing Josh Gordon for a positive marijuana test, or looking the other way with Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case, it seems that Goodell is always in the wrong; the list goes on and on.
The Pats, on the other hand, have been the polar opposite of inconsistent since the Brady-Belichick era began in late 2001. They have shuffled in running backs and receivers, tolerated absolutely no nonsense, recruited guys who were tired of losing and became comfortable with being one of the most hated teams in professional sports thanks to repeated allegations of all sorts of cheating and their cool winning ways. They have valued winning over everything and have been pretty good at it, with three Super Bowl victories and five Super Bowl appearances over a fifteen year span. They have embraced the “bad guy” role and laughed at anyone or any punishment in the way of their pursuit of another title. As the overwhelming favorites to win the AFC title, and make it back to another Super Bowl, the rest of the league will try whatever antics they can to throw a wrench into New England’s well-oiled machine. If future results are anything like the past fifteen years, the efforts of Mike Tomlin and anyone else in the way will be futile.
So, as this season kicks off, with Brady back throwing touchdowns to Gronk four games too soon, New England is as prepared as ever to shrug off accusations and to focus on bringing another ring to Boxborough. The NFL may claim to be upset with the harsh realization that its word holds no weight, but somewhere Goodell is secretly smiling at the fact that more people are talking about his gigantic money machine than ever before, thanks to the Evil Empire in New England.