Growing up in New England, I have been around Patriots fans all my life, and the only NFL game I have ever been to in person was a Patriots game in Foxboro all the way back in 1995 when I was only 6 years old. There, I watched a young Curtis Martin score his first career touchdown against the old Cleveland Browns, before they took a couple year break from having a football team. This early childhood experience, though, did not affect my football allegiance, as I was already a 49ers fan after their recent Super Bowl victory. I will admit it: as a 5-year old kid, I was a bandwagon fan, the worst type of fan in my opinion. However, I give myself a pass on that (and any other 5 year old for that matter) because I absolutely idolized Jerry Rice and I have stuck with the 49ers through the years and will still be rooting for the horrible 2-5 team that takes the field on Sunday against the Falcons. I had never had a problem with the Patriots, though I did of course like to taunt the Patriots fans whenever my 49ers beat them handily.
That all changed, though, on January 19, 2002. On that day, with snow falling heavily and a few inches of it already on the ground, the Patriots took on the Oakland Raiders in the divisional round of the playoffs. I was a 49ers fan, but with Jerry Rice now playing wide receiver for the Raiders, I was definitely rooting for Oakland. Most of you probably already know about the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule Game (watch highlights here) about which I'm writing, and for some reason that play (and the Raiders' subsequent loss) turned me against the Patriots. Now, that hatred for the Patriots has become as strong as my enmity towards the Yankees and nearly as strong as my love of the Twins. Without Brady's fumble being overturned (which was a fumble by the way, he tucked the ball down with both hands on it before it was knocked out), who knows if the Patriots would have ever become what they have today? Obviously, we'll never know what would have happened to them had they lost that game.
Anyways, since then, the Patriots have, in my eyes, become a classless organization. I wish I could say that they are also a bad team, but, right now, I can't say anything against the quality of this team. Right now, I just have to have faith that Colts can defeat the Patriots on Sunday (or at least stay close). If the Colts get blown away by the Patriots, I don't see what will be able to stop them, and I absolutely hate to admit that. As I described above, don't think that this hatred of the Patriots comes from Bill Belichick's spying controversy in Week 1, as it started during the Snow Bowl and has been growing ever since. The first thing I like to point out is a couple years ago in a regular season game against the Colts (I don't have the time to look up exactly what game it was). The Patriots were up by 4 points, so the Colts needed a touchdown, and in typical Peyton Manning fashion, he drove them quickly down the field in a no-huddle offense. At this point, with the Colts inside the 10-yard line, no timeouts remaining, and less than a minute to go, the Patriots defense was certainly tired, so LB Willie McGinest decided it would be a good time to "injure" his knee. McGinest writhed in pain on the ground, while the clock stopped and the Patriots D got a nice break. McGinest then proceeded to sit out one play before coming back in for 4th-and-goal at the 1 with somewhere around 10-20 seconds left. Manning handed the ball off to Edge, who went left and met up with- guess who- the "injured" Willie McGinest, who made the stop and proceeded to sprint all the way to midfield, despite having suffered an injury just two plays earlier. Another example is the Patriots countless cries that they don't get any respect. Seriously, I think it's time for them to stop playing that card because everyone thinks they're a great team and no one is doubting them. I could add a few more examples, including Rodney Harrison's HGH suspension and obviously Belichick's videotaping scandal (I'm sure everyone has heard enough about that already), but this post could go on forever.
In the end, the Patriots are not the best team because... well... I don't have any support for that. All I can say is that, as much I hate him, at least Tom Brady is on my fantasy team, and let's hope that the Colts can beat the Patriots so that I can actually come up with a reason for them not being the greatest team ever.