When the Steel Curtain Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl of the ‘70s, which quarterbacks did they go through to do it?
How about Joe Montana and the Niners when San Fran began its dynasty back in 1981?
Or the Steve Young Niners in 1994 when San Fran won its last?
Yeah, most wouldn’t remember. It gets lost in the fog of time. And, really, what does it matter that it was Bob Griese, Dan Pastorini and Vince Ferragamo for the Steelers. Or Scott Brunner, Danny White and Ken Anderson for Montana and the Niners. Or Erik Kramer, Troy Aikman and Stan Humphries for the ‘90s Niners.
Play golf long enough, you’ll hear the phrase, “Nobody asks, ‘How?’ They ask, ‘How many?’"
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, it will be completely forgotten in just a few years that the last four quarterbacks standing in the 2017 playoffs were Tom Brady, Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles.
Well, maybe not completely. But mostly.
In winning five Lombardis, the Patriots have dealt with their would-be dynasties (Rams and Seahawks), the MVPs (Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Steve McNair, LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Ryan) and a squadron of present and future Hall of Famers.
Are they supposed to wear a black armband to commemorate the AFC teams that couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain? A helmet decal in memoriam of the quarterbacks who couldn’t stay healthy? A moment of silence for all the brain-dead coaching decisions that came before?
Is it on them to apologize for the “tomato canzzzz” they’ve knocked down over the years? Of course not. It’s not their fault they’ve dominated the 2000s any more than it’s the hallowed Celtics fault for dominating a six-team NBA.
If title No. 6 comes for Tom Brady against forgettable competition, that doesn’t leave any more smear on his legacy than it would if people ever noticed that Bill Russell shot 44 percent from the field and 56 percent from the line over his career.
Great is great. No need to apologize for the ineptitude of those around you.
There are those who walk among us thinking the Patriots should do that. They are the ones who sit in their darkened dens watching black-and-white highlights of the Impossible Dream Red Sox, clutching a 1967 Red Sox pennant in one hand, a Narragansett in the other, face illuminated by the candles flickering from their shrine to Yaz.
Those Red Sox supposedly changed everything by losing in the World Series. Seven games, though. It took seven games. So for decades, paeans were penned for them. Captain Carl didn’t need pliability and hydration, he was huffing on heaters in the clubhouse. Man’s man. Owner Tom Yawkey didn’t bar certain reporters from Super Bowl breakfasts. Dick Williams engaged with the media, dammit!
Robert Kraft may be more progressive than Yawkey in terms of race relations and Belichick has not been spotted nude on a hotel balcony as Williams was. Still, it’s worth noting that Brady, Kraft and Belichick ought to be ashamed of themselves for picking on the rest of the NFL like this. The ’67 Sox had the grace to lose. Remember that.
Anyway, since the 2017 Patriots will not be teleporting their 53 to another, more competitive season, let’s look at this football Leviathan in Foxboro.
Because, after speed-bumping the Titans (#AsExpected), what’s overlooked is that Patriots are not that overwhelming.
Their best defensive player and most reliable skill position player – Donta Hightower and Julian Edelman – are long, long gone. The offense revolves around two of the best that have ever played their positions – Brady and Rob Gronkowski – a castoff nobody else in the league wanted (Dion Lewis), a wiry, aging rabid ferret at wide receiver that everyone hated when he got here (Danny Amendola), and another wide receiver that everyone seems to hate now (Brandin Cooks).
Defensively, the glue-guy in their front-seven is Kyle Van Noy. The Lions didn’t have any further use for Van Noy when they traded him in 2016. They rely defensively on Elandon Roberts – a very short NFL linebacker – and a chunk of their eight sacks were recorded by guys named Marquis Flowers, Adam Butler and Deatrich Wise. Do you know what Lawrence Guy looks like? No, you do not. Don’t lie.
The guys on injured reserve aside from Hightower and Edelman include wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, valuable young run-stopper Vincent Valentine, Marcus Cannon (a very good right tackle), a useful linebacker (Shea McClellin), a great special teams player (Nate Ebner) and a rookie who looked like he might help with pass rush right away (Derek Rivers). Toss in Cyrus Jones too for the hell of it.
Now the Patriots will face Jacksonville – which may have finally stuck a fork in the Roethlisberger-Tomlin Era Steelers – on Saturday night.
How desperate are self-obsessed Patriots fans and media to find a boogeyman to keep them awake at night?
They believe that 71-year-old Tom Coughlin – who isn’t even the damn coach but is a Jaguars executive – is reason to sleep with the lights on.
He’s not. And neither is Blake Bortles or Leonard Fournette.
The complement of defensive talent is easily the best the Patriots have seen this season. But they are young and dumb. They are going to attack and pursue and there will be plays when Tom Brady looks completely mortal. Which in itself is a cause for great concern, as we’ve seen. But the Brady and Josh McDaniels will hoist the Jags on their own petard and use their speed and youth against them (even though they don’t have near the offensive talent Pittsburgh does).
The chortling will begin if/when the confetti flies in Foxboro next week. The Patriots are proud of beating Mariota and Bortles…LOL!!! Joe Montana was 4-0 in Super Bowls!!!! They should be embarrassed!
The fine print might tell a different story. But nobody reads the fine print anymore. So the Patriots will probably have to settle for a “Sorry, not sorry” and begin planning for Minny.