HOUSTON — A lack of preoccupation has seemingly surrounded New England Patriots fans for five months.
Perhaps it was the distraction of the presidential election or the seemingly inevitability of every contest, but Patriots fans seem less engrossed in their team. They like watching, don’t get them wrong, viewership is as high as ever, but the deep dives into minutiae are down. And the passion seemed lacking in most home games.
New Englanders seemed almost lulled to sleep with no true controversy surrounding the team this season and especially in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
The team is plenty invested — don’t worry — which is why New England should win Super Bowl LI over the Atlanta Falcons. The players, 30 of which have never played in a Super Bowl, have plenty to fight for. But fans? The Patriots have accomplished nearly everything they have needed since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady came to the team in 2000 for the start of an overlong — for other cities, of course — dynasty.
Here are the top reasons why Patriots fans want their team to win the Super Bowl:
— Winning Super Bowls is fun.
— Five Lombardi Trophies is more than four.
— To watch Roger Goodell hand Tom Brady the Super Bowl MVP.
— To find out what Brady would say to Goodell as he hands him the trophy.
— The photo of Goodell and Brady.
— Winning five Super Bowls would make Tom Brady undoubtedly the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Take out the word “undoubtedly,” and that’s where he stands now.
— To analyze Goodell’s smile and/or grimace in said photos.
— Winning five championships would tie Bill Belichick with Vince Lombardi for most by a head coach.
— To put a bow on a season that started with Brady being suspended four games — by Goodell.
— To force Goodell to come to Gillette Stadium in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
— Because Goodell.
That’s about much it, right? That covers it? The Patriots’ highest stakes for winning a Super Bowl are vengeance that already has been resolved. The Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX without deflated footballs. Deflategate was ruled null and void of any impact on the Patriots’ success when they beat the Seattle Seahawks two years ago, and if you look at Brady’s stats since that game.
The Patriots had plenty to fight for in Super Bowls prior to this one. They were competing for their first win in Super Bowls XX, XXXI and XXXVI. They were out to prove their first win wasn’t a fluke in Super Bowl XXXVIII and went for a dynasty in Super Bowl XXXIX. Super Bowl XLII was to maintain a perfect season. Super Bowl XLVI was to avenge their previous Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. And Super Bowl XLIX was about Deflategate, their sudden streak of Super Bowl losses, Brady tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw and to maintain a winning record in championship games for their QB and head coach.
This year? It’s manufactured retribution that surely would feel great for Patriots fans, but it’s not do or die. It’s not about proving Brady or Belichick are the best because everyone already publicly acknowledges it. It’s gravy, hot fudge, sprinkles, like seeing Taylor Swift the night after the Barstool Party — sorry, little too personal, also sweet brag. All those things are great but also unnecessary.
The feud with Goodell is fine and all, but it’s less meaningful than the stakes of any previous Patriots Super Bowl.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images