8 Ways the World Has Changed Since the Patriots' Last Championship
While soaking up the adoration of their fans since winning Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants also are getting "thank yous" from fans of other teams.
This isn't just a victory for Giants fans. It also is a victory for Patriot haters.
The New England Patriots almost won their first Super Bowl since the 2004 season, but for the second time in five years, the Giants stepped in and said they'll be taking the Lombardi Trophy, thank you very much.
For those who dread the thought of another Patriots championship, "Big Blue," as their fans call them, have acted as NYPD Blue. They have twice detained the Patriots as they've tried to make their way back to the top of the football world, handcuffing a franchise that was caught cheating.
Like the Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won two Super Bowls since the last time the Patriots won one.
The Indianapolis Colts, who, like the Steelers, were tormented by the Patriots during their brutal reign in the early 2000s, also have one championship since the Patriots' last one.
This article is for any fan who hates the Patriots, which I'm guessing includes some fans of all 31 NFL teams outside New England.
We're all rejoicing in the Patriots' seven-year championship drought, but to truly appreciate how long this sanctuary from Patriot oppression has been, let's look at how the sports world and the world in general has changed since the Patriots last won a Super Bowl.
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YouTube wasn't even invented the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
According to the website Fast Company, the youtube.com domain name was registered Feb. 15, 2005, nine days after the Patriots defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. The first video appeared on YouTube in April of that year.
Facebook was still for college students and called "The Facebook" the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Not until 2006 was Facebook available to the general public, according to The Atlantic. Facebook was launched on Feb. 4, 2004, according to Business Insider, three days after the Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Hardly anyone had even heard of Facebook in those days. MySpace was the cool social media site, with about 5 million users, according to the Huffington Post. Now, MySpace is like the old Atari in the back of the closet.
Twitter? That wasn't invented until 2006, according to the Los Angeles Times.
That's right. The Patriots won their last Super Bowl in the days before athletes tweeted.
That's how far removed we are from the dark days of the Patriots' dynasty.
Other New England Sports Teams
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Boston sports fans were a championship-starved lot when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI in 2001.
The last Boston team to win a title before that was the 1986 Boston Celtics.
Of course, there might be someone who, you know, is a fan of every Boston sports team except the Patriots. When Adam Vinatieri's field goal split the uprights in New Orleans, that person still was waiting for one of his teams to win a championship. I wish I could think of his name.
Now, Boston sports fans have had plenty of championships to celebrate, no thanks to the Patriots.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox ended their storied 86-year wait for a championship, just three months before the Patriots collected their last Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Then, in 2007, the Red Sox won the World Series again, which they're pictured celebrating. Meanwhile, the Patriots were in the midst of their ill-fated quest for perfection.
The Celtics won their first championship in 22 years in 2008. Then, the Bruins, for decades the weak sister among Boston sports teams in terms of popularity, won the Stanley Cup in 2011, their first since 1972.
Now, the Patriots are like the guy who can't get a date while everyone around him is hooking up.
Well, Tom Brady might not feel that way.
Tom and Gisele
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The Patriots' last Lombardi Trophy was already gathering dust when Tom Brady met Gisele Bundchen in December of 2006.
Still, there are some who blame the Patriots' lack of titles since 2004 on the "Curse of Gisele," just as the Red Sox' 86-year gap between titles was pinned on the "Curse of the Bambino."
Maybe there's something to the Curse of Gisele. After all, who needs Super Bowl trophies when you have a trophy wife?
Brady was dating actress Bridget Moynahan in 2004 as he led the Patriots to their third championship in four years. Apparently, they weren't as attractive a couple as Bundchen and Leonardo DiCaprio, who made "People" magazine's list of Most Beautiful Couples in 2004.
After her split with the "Titanic" star, the Brazilian model hooked up with Brady just in time for the Patriots to hit a couple of icebergs. A few weeks after they became an item, the Patriots blew a 21-3 lead and lost to the Colts 38-34 in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
The following season, the Patriots were perfect until they ran into the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Bundchen didn't rip Brady's teammates after that loss like she did after Super Bowl XLVI. For a wife to be causing her husband such headaches, you know they've been married for a while.
As long as the marriage has been though, it's not as long as the Patriots' championship drought.
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Only a tennis junkie would have heard of Rafael Nadal when the Patriots last won a Super Bowl in early 2005.
Now, he's the second-best tennis player in the world.
The Spanish tennis star is pictured in the 2005 Australian Open not long before the Patriots beat the Eagles in Jacksonville. Only 18 years old at the time, Nadal rose to prominence that spring and won the French Open. Since then, he's won nine more Grand Slam titles.
Roger Federer was the world's top tennis player the last time the Patriots were the world's top football team, and he had only won four of his 16 Grand Slam titles at the time. Now, he's past his prime.
Where does the time go?
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Speaking of athletes past their prime, how about Tiger Woods?
Is it me, or has Woods aged a lot since this picture was taken after Woods won the 2005 Masters?
Woods was 29 then, just a couple of months after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl. Since then, there's been time for Woods to win six of his 14 major championships (including the 2005 Masters), achieve utter disgrace with his philandering ways, fall off the map in the golf world and start showing signs of a comeback.
Woods' marriage to former model Elin Nordegren fell apart after his extramarital affairs were revealed late in 2009. He hasn't won a PGA Tour event since that scandal.
So, Patriots fans might want to get comfortable with the Curse of Gisele, because it would be nothing compared to what would happen if Tom Brady cheats on her. Just ask Tiger.
You know you haven't won the Super Bowl in a long time if the pope when you last won it is no longer the pope
The turnover of pontiffs isn't quite like the turnover of NFL coaches. God doesn't fire the pope if Catholics commit too many sins in a particular year.
When someone becomes the pope, he's the pope for life. That means (in most cases, anyway) that it's usually decades between new popes.
Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy in the spring of 2005 after Pope John Paul II passed away. That was a couple of months after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX.
If you think it's a stretch to draw a parallel between papal succession and Super Bowl history, well, they both use Roman numerals. That's enough of a connection, isn't it?
Hey, I know Tom Brady's a good Catholic boy; he married Gisele Bundchen in a Catholic ceremony.
But the Patriots can't expect to get any help from the Pope if the Cardinals aren't on their side.
The Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII at the Arizona Cardinals' home stadium. Then the following year, they brought the Cardinals into their home and humiliated them 47-7.
That's no way to treat Cardinals. Could a higher power have been at work when the Cardinals were blessed with a Super Bowl appearance that year and the Patriots didn't even make the playoffs?
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There were still 21 episodes of "The Sopranos" yet to air when the Patriots won their last Super Bowl.
The Patriots last were champions during the nearly two-year wait between the fifth and sixth seasons of the HBO series. Tony had yet to be shot by Uncle Junior, and Vito was still obese and straight. At least, everyone thought he was straight.
The last episode of "The Sopranos" aired in 2007, almost a year before Joe Gannascoli, pictured, celebrated the Patriots' imperfect season at the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory parade.
Gannascoli had much more of an affinity for New England as Vito Spatafore in "The Sopranos."
On the show, Vito slimmed down in Season 6 and fled to New Hampshire after he's discovered at a gay bar. In one episode, he goes on a motorcycle ride with his lover on the "Daniel Web-stah Highway."
Vito meets a rather violent demise, however, when he returns to New Jersey.
In real life, Gannascoli is a huge Giants fan, according to the New York Post.
Eric Mangini also appeared in an episode of "The Sopranos." Now, he's in the NFL's witness protection program (OK, he's really on ESPN) after ratting out the Patriots over Spygate.
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The Sopranos might be the stuff of fiction, but the Mannings are a real-life family that's whacked the Patriots quite a bit since their last Super Bowl victory.
It wasn't always that way.
The Patriots beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the playoffs on their way to winning their last two Super Bowls. Manning finally licked the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game before winning Super Bowl XLI that year.
Eli Manning, pictured making his first career NFL start in 2004, had less than half a season as a starting quarterback under his belt the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Now, he's the Patriots' biggest tormentor. The Patriots have gone from bullying Peyton Manning to being bullied by his little brother.