If the Patriots take an expected step back, the fans will flee

If the Patriots take an expected step back, the fans will flee

These Pats fans are gone forever.

Prior to the Patriots upsetting the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, this was a pissed-off Red Sox town. The fellowship of the miserable was a living, breathing organism that dominated the region. 

Then the Pats and Sox shocked the world and won championships, the venom absorbed by an atmosphere boasting of six Super Bowls wins, four World Series titles, an NBA championship and a Stanley Cup. 

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Record setting television ratings, season ticket waiting lists and vault-busting merchandising sales made the Foxboro faithful easily the most powerful fan base of the local four. 

And now they are gone. 

That’s okay. Nothing lasts forever. 

During the double decade domination of the NFL by New England, things changed. 


First of all, winning breeds complacency.

After the Red Sox won in ’04, Dan Shaughnessy told me after his morning jog about beating St. Louis that “it” would never be the same. I disagreed with the Hall of Famer and in the end he was right. I miss the bitter sports fan, and unfortunately that species is extinct. It happened to the Sox and it will happen to the Patriots.

How can anyone be hungry when they are stuffed with nine trips to the Super Bowl? If Stid the Kid sucks are you really going to complain about it? No. You’re not. You’re going to just do something else, like watch the Buccaneers. 

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Secondly, New Englanders loved watching the NFL prior to 2001, they just didn’t watch the Patsies. They watched the Cowboys, Giants or Steelers. Every kid in my grade school wore Steeler shirts and worshiped Mean Joe Green. This can happen again. Will anyone be surprised if Tampa Bay has better television ratings in New England than the Patriots?

I am not watching Brian Hoyer play one snap and I am not alone. If Stid doesn’t get it done don’t be surprised if Patrick Mahomes jerseys start showing up in New England school yards over the next few years.

Everyone loves a winner.  

Finally, the advent of social media, video games and streaming services have watered down the market. A fan doesn’t have to endure the pain of a losing season with Tik Tok, or Insta or Snap Chat at their fingertips. I thought I was dreaming the other night when I heard a voice say, “What a catch by Gronk!” It was my son playing video games at 2 a.m.  with one of his fellow quarantined buddies. If the Pats suck, he can choose any of the Pats’ Super Bowl winning teams on his X-Box. And then of course there is YouTube, NetFlix, Xfinity On-Demand etc ... Have you watched "Killing Eve" or "Ozark?"

So, thank you Patriot fans for being there for the last 20 years. You served your team well. There will never be another like you. 

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history is three and a half years old, but it certainly isn't forgotten.

Just ask Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who brought up New England's miraculous Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons while his fiancée, Morgan Hart, was delivering their baby. Seriously.

Hightower told The Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld he started chanting "28-3, 28-3" and "Never give up" while Hart entered her 17th hour of labor with their first child last month.

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Apparently the motivational tactic worked, as Hart said Hightower's words helped her push through and deliver their baby boy, Grayson, on July 16.

"It was surreal," Hart told Grossfeld. “It was a long night and a long day, and he kept reminding me, ‘28-3, 28-3,′ meaning you can be behind and come back. Never, never give up."

That's a reference to the deficit New England faced in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before rallying to win in overtime -- thanks in large part to Hightower's strip sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan early in the fourth quarter.

Hightower still uses the 28-3 reference "all the time," per Grossfeld, but his focus won't be on football in 2020. The 30-year-old linebacker is one of eight Patriots players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

"Not knowing too much about the COVID thing, I don’t want to jeopardize the health of my family," Hightower told Grossfeld. "I understand you can still catch it by going to the grocery store, but I’m not going to put my family’s health at risk for money.

"It’s family first. I want to take all the opportunity that I can to be a great father."

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Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

You wouldn't seek out a military general for tips on NFL roster building, but Donald Trump apparently believes there's some transferrable wisdom between the battlefield and gridiron.

During an interview Tuesday on The Hugh Hewitt Show, President Trump was asked whether he believes Bill Belichick has a better chance of winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots this year than Tom Brady does with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Trump responded with a diplomatic answer -- that included some eye-opening praise for Belichick.

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"I think they’re both going to do great. They’re both friends of mine," Trump told Hewitt. "I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? ... Give me a couple of ideas.' And he'd be as good as any general out there."

Belichick is a master strategist who relies on knowledge, adaptability and thorough preparation to put the Patriots in the best position to succeed. Those are all qualities of a successful military general, and perhaps Belichick could have been one in another life.

Alas, Belichick is a football coach with zero military credentials (aside from his father coaching at Navy), so we're not sure he's the best person to call about battle strategy.

Trump has touted his friendship with Belichick and Brady over the years, reading a letter of support from the Patriots coach on the eve of his election in 2016 and bringing up the former Patriots quarterback in various public appearances.

The President clearly still enjoys referencing both Patriots icons, even if his understanding of Belichick's talents is a bit off.