There've been plenty of teams I've loved to hate over the years.
The Yankees of the late 90s and early 2000s, the 2006 Colts, the Shaq and Kobe Era Lakers, the 1980s Detroit Pistons—they all made my blood boil.
But I never played the "bitch" card.
Never once, that is, did I attribute those teams' success to shady officiating, or even to luck. The fact is that they were just damn good—and they proved it time and again on a national stage.
There's no sense disputing the obvious.
And it should be no surprise, then, that this Monday's Patriots-Ravens matchup finally pushed me over the edge.
The Pats' narrow win had nothing to do with it, nor did New England's inability to stop the Raven's smashmouth running game. In truth, the biggest outrage came during the postgame interviews:
The Ravens pulled the "bitch" card.
This was an NFL game, played in an NFL stadium before an NFL audience. So why do grown men insist on channeling their peewee days in complaining about everything that didn't matter?
As Tom Brady and Randy Moss took jabs from the scribes in the three-piece suits, the Ravens defenders sulked by their lockers and moaned about the refs.
They spoke of adversity, and offered such snarky remarks as, "It's hard to play the Patriots and the refs."
Please. Cry about it.
It's hard to fathom the Ravens' using the word "adversity" in the context of the Patriots. Why not tell a one-legged blind man about the adversity you've endured?
No team in recent sports history has endured more hardship than the Pats have this season. Granted, some of it was self-inflicted—but the real backlash from the Spygate scandal came after the team had been officially sanctioned.
The Pats got caught with their pants down, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed his punishment.
But did NFL fans let it go?
Nope—not even after it became apparent that more than a few top-tier NFL coaches (e.g. Mike Shanahan) were guilty of stealing signals.
Instead, calls went up to have the Pats' previous playoff and Super Bowl victories stricken from the record book.
But let's be serious.
Why not take away the Pats' identities all together? How about calling Brady "QB No. 12"...and kidnapping Giselle? Or why not force Bill Belichick to wear a suit and top hat on the sideline during games?
The Hall of Fame was built for controversies like Spygate. Let history do the debating.
The important point, though, is that the Pats stood tall in the face of adversity—which is more than you can say for the Ravens.
God forbid the media were to actually ask the Ravens players important questions.
They could start with, "Do you recall the Patriots bitching when the refs flagged them for nearly 150 yards in penalties versus the Colts?"
Or maybe, "You mentioned the NFL wants Tom Brady to win because he 'sells tickets.' If that's true, why was Don Shula in the announcer's box, and why was Mercury Morris part of the pregame jibber-jabber?"
(By the way, I love the NFL's decision to include Shula and Morris in the Monday night extravaganza. Imagine Babe Ruth yucking it up with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver during a Red Sox Game Seven. Or Kobe Bryant making state law jokes alongside Marv Albert for a Denver Nuggets home game. Priceless.)
The tone has been set for the remainder of the NFL season. Every team left on the Patriots' schedule will bring the house—and one of them might succeed.
It's clear nobody wants to see this team 19-0 when all is said and done. And, honestly, I don't have a problem with that. Everyone hates a winner—especially when they're losing.
Just don't pull the "bitch" card.
Check out John's blog at www.yawkeysawx.blogspot.com.