The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime 37–31 to advance to their 9th Super Bowl appearance since 2001. Tom Brady will now have more Super Bowl appearances than any team in league history. The number and records they have put up as a team will most likely never be surpassed. They have dominated football for two decades in a row. No other team in league history has had such a long streak of dominance. Not the Vince Lombardi Packers, not the Bill Wash 49ers, and certainly not the Paul Brown Browns.
Ever since I started watching football in 2011 there was never a years where the Patriots didn’t get to at least the AFC Championship. They have played in a championship game in all but one year during this decade, and in the process given me some of the best moments of my life.
I can still freshly recall my reaction when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson at the one yard line to win Super Bowl 49 for their fourth title. I ran down through the tables of a local Chili’s like a mad dog on the loose. I still can’t remember a time where I felt happier. Similar actions took place two years later when they somehow came back from a 25 point deficit to win a historic fifth Super Bowl title. Even when they met defeat last year at the hands of Saint Nick and the Eagles such event took place in a time where I was dealing with personal defeat myself, and the whole moment came to symbolically represent a life lesson as sorts (at least this is the lie I tell myself to cope with the pain). Now, almost a year later since that defeat, they have another chance to redeem themselves. How many teams get the chance to do that? I am left speechless every time they find a way to prove to everyone, including me, wrong.
Tom Brady is a personal hero. The same way many see Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali or Babe Ruth as the most impressive and dominant players in their respective sports is how I’ve come to view Brady. He is on a class of his own when it comes to delivering under pressure. Never in my life have I been so shocked and amazed at an individual in a consistent basis. Regardless of the bullshit coming out of many individual’s twitter feed, Brady has proven time and time again how most criticism falls on deaf ears when the clock hits triple zero. My admiration for him is personal for many reasons, as he and the Patriots were one of the few things in my life during 2014 through 2016 where the only thing keeping me from a breakdown was watching them play. It was my way of finding peace amidst all the psychological angst.
Many in the Boston/New England side of the country will agree with my sentiments. Prior to 2001, Boston sports teams were on a bad streak. The Patriots completely changed this reality. After the Patriots streak of three championships in four years, the Red Sox broke the curse, the Celtics formed The Big Three, and the Bruins won a ring. A good argument could be made that none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the Pats paving the way. The architects of this run will forever be engraved in the city and its fans.
The Patriots are set to face off against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks from now on February 3. The date will coincide with the date of the Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory 17 years ago vs. the St. Louis Rams. The game will be another challenge. I expect a hard-fought game, as all their victories and losses have been. They have opened as one-point favorites in the betting scene, an indication that the bettors are unsure on who is the better team. There will be plenty of time to break down the matchup, but for now, a much-needed moment of reflection and grateful sentiments should be exercised. I consider myself to be part of a very rare moment in sports history, the moment where I get to see the greatest coach in NFL history along with the greatest quarterback in NFL history put it all on the line once more for the ninth time. Win or lose, this has been special, and no one is going to take that away. Well, the Rams have a shot. May the best team win.