Bully for You, Patriots
Of course, there are the obvious arch-rivals; Raiders-Chiefs, Packers-Bears, Steelers-Browns. I myself have a shirt that reads “MY TWO FAVORITE TEAMS ARE THE REDSKINS AND WHOEVER’S PLAYING THE COWBOYS.” And of course we root against division rivals, but I have to admit that I don’t feel the same level of white-hot hatred for the Giants and Eagles as I do for Dallas.
But occasionally personal experience brings a personal hatred. About twelve years ago, a quirk of scheduling had my Redskins playing two games in one season against Tampa Bay, home and away. It was like they were honorary NFC East for a season. This was, I believe, the last year they wore orange-and-orange; 1994 or 1995. The ‘Skins lost both games in ugly fashion; not by blowouts but by simple inability to execute. The Bucs were a bad team, but the ‘Skins made them look good, and that’s the worst kind of loss. I have despised the Buccaneers ever since. I’m commissioner of my fandom, and the commish holds a grudge.
It is with that experience in mind that I congratulate Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for their 52-7 victory over Washington on Sunday. Well done, Coach. You have earned my enmity, taken a team I rooted for in every postseason of the 2000s and placed them just one layer of Hell higher than the Cowboys for me.
It’s not that they beat my team badly; that I can take. Hell, since 1992 I’m pretty used to an annual savage beat-down. With the Redskins' offensive line on crutches and stretchers and quarterback Jason Campbell suddenly reverting to doe-eyed-rookie play quality the last two weeks, a bad loss was inevitable. It’s the completely classless manner in which New England scored the last, oh about 30 points, that has earned my hatred, as well as the scorn of NFL commentators across the nation. Before this week, the Patriots looked like a team of destiny. Now they just look like bullies.
I have to acknowledge that I didn’t watch the whole game. I had a performance of Richard II at 2:30, and the game started at 4:15. I got to my car after the show and turned on the radio with the Redskins down 17-0 and driving down the field. Campbell turned the ball over and the Pats had just over two minutes remaining before the half. They threw a couple of passes, which the ‘Skins secondary just clearly couldn’t defend. Suddenly I noticed that they weren’t calling any running plays. The clock and game management was excellent; it was precise and well-executed, and they scored another touchdown with just a few seconds left to lead 24-0 at the half.
I muttered out loud in my car, “Running up the score a little, don’t you think?”
I hadn’t seen anything yet.
My viewing of the second half was marred by the fact that I had to figure out how to turn on the heat in my house before the sun set. In between reading the wrong manual and trips in and out of the back yard, I saw the Patriots execute pass after pass, a fake spike, a linebacker catching passes, passing on fourth down, and not a sniff of Redskins offense.
I’m sure some random Patriots fan (
But mostly, new school wants to punish the NFL for finding out they cheated.
Here’s what you do in the NFL if you have any class or respect whatsoever. Once you get a four-touchdown or so lead, you hand the ball to the running back. You call plays that don’t cause injuries to your team or the other team, you kill the clock, you take your double-digit victory and you go home happy. If the opposing defense is so inept that they can’t stop your run-after-run and you score, the fault is theirs. You can beat them without intentionally humiliating them. A bad team humiliates itself.
Joe Gibbs would never have called those ridiculous pass and gadget plays with an opponent down 24-0, 31-0, 38-0. Vince Lombardi wouldn’t have. Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, and even Bill Parcells, whom I loathe with all my soul, wouldn’t have. But Bill Belichick would.
Thanks again, Coach, for showing us who you are so clearly. I could look past the cheating and the snubbing of opposing coaches enough to still root for Tom Brady. But humiliating Joe Jackson Gibbs like you did on Sunday is so far across the line that I can’t anticipate ever coming back.
And it’s not just Washington fans who are going to see this. Don’t think NFL players and coaches are just going to take being disrespected. This is coming back to bite the Patriots, and soon. Some linebacker, his team down 35-7, is going to take Brady down with a late hit; some free safety is going to spear Moss across the middle, someone is going to take Vrabel down low. His team will take the 15-yard penalty, the offender will be kicked out of the game, he’ll be fined six figures, and he’ll get thank you cards from players on 31 teams. I’m not recommending this, nor am I approving it; I’m just the messenger. Starting week 10 (because the Colts’ Tony Dungy is too classy to allow it in week 9) we’re going to see increasingly dirty play against these Patriots.
Congratulations, Coach Bullychick, on your 52-7 victory over the Redskins. Your Patriots are my new Cowboys. I guess you finally understand the full power of the dark side of the Force.