Even Patriots Haters Should Marvel at Historic Greatness of Brady and Co.

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2017

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Jim Nantz (R) interviews Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots as team owner Robert Kraft (L) and head coach Bill Belichick (2nd-L) look on after the Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — To some of you, what we're witnessing is awful, like a root canal. It will cause you to wince and double over in pain, like someone put you in a toe lock. Or kicked you in the gonads.

You will shake your head in disgust. You will throw things. You will punch walls. It's because you hate the New England Patriots.

You hate them with all of your heart and soul. You would rather be sucked into a black hole, atom by atom, than watch them win another Super Bowl.

You want to slap Donnie Wahlberg in the face, and Bon Jovi and Donald Trump and all the other Pats supporters. You would rather do anything, everything, all of the things, than admit what I'm about to say:

We are seeing something we've never before seen in the NFL, and may never see again, and it is something remarkable and wondrous to watch.

This is a meteor that flies by Earth every few centuries. This is Loch Ness and Bigfoot photographed on the hood of a UFO. This is insane. This is crazy. This is dominance like we haven't seen in football before.

The Patriots prosper despite being the greatest villains of all time. They win despite the full power of the commissioner going against them. Senators want to investigate them. Teams hate them, rat them out. Coordinators come and go. Hall of Famers come and go. And still, they win.

There are eternal constants like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And those are amazing constants to have. But the players change around them all the time—and they win. College quarterbacks become great receivers—and they win. Brady misses four gamesand they win. They're accused of deflating, cheating, thieving, grand theft auto, and they flick it all away, like lint on a jacket.

And. Still. Win.

Hatred of them flows through you, but if you cannot appreciate this, your heart is made of some type of alloy.

Patriots haters: Have another drink.

It's the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl 51 after the Falcons waxed the Packers and the Patriots obliterated the Steelers, 36-17, at Gillette Stadium.

Does all of this winning ever get old? Hell to the no.

"No, getting to a Super Bowl never gets old," said receiver Julian Edelman. "What kind of a question is that?"

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates with cheerleaders after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Pho
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On the field, Patriots players hugged and smiled. They celebrated. They enjoyed the moment. Martellus Bennett picked up a pair of pompoms and danced with the cheerleaders. Owner Robert Kraft, addressing the crowd after the game, was, well...happy is the best way to describe him.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," said Brady. "It's unbelievable."

"We're going to the Super Bowl man, s--t," said Brady. "You gotta be happy now." 

Then came the typical Patriots moment of reflection.

"We're not satisfied with getting to the Super Bowl," Edelman said. "We're enjoying this, but there's more to do."

Translation: This is great and all, and we're happy, but the job is only partly done. We're the Patriots. Our standards are different.

The Patriots turned a vibrant and dangerous Pittsburgh offense into a tepid pile of goo. Le'Veon Bell pulled a groin on the second play of the game, he said, and didn't play for much of the contest. Antonio Brown was a non-factor. Ben Roethlisberger looked average, at best. This is the Patriot Effect.

On offense, Brady made Chris Hogan look like Jerry Rice. It was Brady's 33rd postseason game, the most in league history. The next closest players are Adam Vinatieri with 30 and Jerry Rice with 29. There's a good chance no player in the next 50 years matches Brady's postseason appearance streak.

This is New England's seventh Super Bowl with Brady and Belichick leading the team, the most by an NFL coach-quarterback duo. Belichick's seven Super Bowls are the most by a head coach ever. 

On and on it goes. The level of dominance is uncanny. This is what it was like to watch the Canadiens, Bill Russell's Celtics, Magic Johnson's Lakers or Jordan's Bulls. The most dominant dynasty is a debate for another time.

It's not just the numbers, it's how New England is doing it. Bill Walsh didn't have to deal with a salary cap. Many of the great dynasties kept large swaths of their core intact for years. Brady has played with Wes Welker, Troy Brown, Randy Moss and Deion Branch, to name a few receivers. They lost Rob Gronkowski for a chunk of the season. This defense is completely rebuilt.

Other teams play checkers. Belichick plays three-dimensional chess.

"The numbers are nice and all that," Belichick said, "but it’s really about this team, this year."

Devin McCourty, the Patriots defensive back, said on some plays there were six Patriots players shouting what play was likely coming. It's not because they cheated or spied on practices. It's because they're studied.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  New England Patriots players celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Sometimes, what the Patriots say just isn't believable. Belichick said after the game at his press conference that he didn't know the Falcons won. Yeah. OK, Bill. Sure.

As Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm noted, this is Belichick's 10th Super Bowl either as an assistant or head coach. That's 19.6 percent of all Super Bowls.

To some of you, the haters of Patriots, what we're witnessing is awful. It's not. It's the opposite. It's also unlike anything we've ever witnessed or may see again.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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