Monday, January 13, 2014

Welcome back to the Patriots' Bandwagon

"The Patriot Way is in itself a self-fulfilling prophesy, a set of standards and clichés conceived by the media to explain how a franchise that had been downtrodden and the doormat of the NFL for many years suddenly became the organization to which all other organizations were compared - a set of coattails created for fans and journalists to ride as far as the good times last, and then a springboard from which to jump as far overboard as they can when they perceive the ship is about to sink." - Foxborough Free Press July 18, 2013

Skip Bayless is an unrepentant fan of the human experience in sports.  Steven A. Smith is a reluctant sounding board to most anything that Bayless says.
Brady and the Patriots have proven all detractors wrong

But together on their ESPN show "First Take" on Monday morning the odd couple found middle ground as it pertains to the New England Patriots - and at the same time recanted a story being told over and over around the country this morning, much to the chagrin of Patriots' haters and Broncos' supporters alike:

The New England Patriots are the scariest team in the final four.

The Patriots have evolved into a mid-70's power running team that has first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady to fall back on in these playoffs, a notable departure from the past decade where the Patriots rode Brady's arm.

This is a New England team that relies on depth, builds it's team from the inside out and has the best game planning and on-the-fly-tactician in the game of football as their head coach.  They are dynasts, overlords of the AFC and are one win away from reaching the Super Bowl for the sixth time since Bill Belichick assumed the throne 13 years ago.

In making the trip to Denver for Sunday's title tilt, The Patriots will be playing in their eighth AFC Championship game in that span and their tenth overall - trailing only the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders for the most appearances all-time, and can tie the fabled Steelers' franchise for the most championships by winning their eighth.

But history means nothing in this game - not their first appearance following the 1985 season nor their last appearance last season - not even New England's epic comeback victory over the Broncos less than two months ago means a damned thing, because destiny chooses it's own heroes and doesn't rely on legend or lore.

This New England Patriots' team has an identity now.  They didn't have one in October, and that's important to remember going forward - even as Bayless boasted and Smith conceded on Monday morning, and to see and hear Steven A. Smith issuing a concession speech to Skip Bayless made for powerful, must see TV...

And, yes.  Smith capitulates to no one, so his actions should signal that the Patriots' bandwagon - which journalist and fan alike was jumping from this past summer and well into the season like rats fleeing a sinking ship - is filling up again.

Even Ron Borges, the notoriously grimy Belichick hater has slithered back on board, though reduced to childish dribble about the impending "Brady vs. Manning" matchup, which followed the "Brady vs. Luck" blather - which is actually far and away better than that evil piece he helped write for Rolling Stone Magazine that should have finished him as a writer.

But, if his little bout with plagiarism seven years ago didn't stop him, then his behavior this season certainly shouldn't - and there were enough fans and journalists riding the wave of negativity, blinded as they were by the allure of their own twisted agendas, that he will ultimately be forgiven and, eventually, forgotten.

Except, that is, by anyone keeping score, which includes Patriots fans who know the difference between practicing due diligence and hiding behind unnamed sources.

And there are many keeping score, but as long as the Patriots continue winning all will be welcomed back aboard the express - but it's gone beyond the point of no return, the point wherein a journalist or fan can say "I told you so", because the New England Patriots are playing for a title on Sunday - and win or lose, they've already proven their detractors wrong.

The New England Patriots are five point underdogs to the Denver Broncos going into this Sunday's AFC Championship game, and the initial betting line provides us with everything we need to know about how the Patriots are viewed in the minds of the true experts.

When referencing the old axiom that home field advantage is worth three points, that says that the experts think that the Broncos are only two points better than the Patriots - and by game time, particularly with news that the Broncos' already shaky pass defense lost starting cornerback Chris Harris to a torn ACL, the point spread should probably be down to that three point advantage.

But the Patriots are the better team in this matchup, which is a far cry from what was predicted of them in mid-July, and in the days leading up to the showdown at Invesco Field, every two-bit journalist in New England is going to tell you why...

...including this scribe, starting on Tuesday when we take a look at the Patriots secondary's matchup against the high-flying Denver passing attack.

"The Patriot Way doesn't mean perfection.  The Patriot Way means doing your best, striving to realize the zenith of their profession - along the way affording opportunity to players who may have lost their way - if it doesn't work, then it didn't work.  Not every idea does, but every once in a while a gem emerges as a result of the given opportunity that no other team could absorb without falling apart.. "  Foxborough Free Press July 18, 2013

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