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Success breeds contempt, and contempt breeds irrationality. That’s truth. What the Patriots accomplished from 2001 – 2007 on the football field was unparalleled. The franchise broke the record for most consecutive regular season victories, won 3 Super Bowls, and captured the hearts of fans for the manner in which they operated. Unfortunately the adulation amassed was pierced when the “Spy-Gate” controversy surfaced. The “Patriot Way” became a punchline. Instead of resonating feelings of admiration, the ideology emitted resent and was considered sanctimonious.
We’ll never know the content of the videos used, or degree to which the scandal assisted the Patriots in their 3 Super Bowl runs. The unknown will forever rank with other great pop-culture mysteries like, “Did Tony Soprano die at the end of The Sapronos?” ; “Who shot JFK?” ; “And which cast member of the Jersey Shore doesn’t have an STD?”
That’s fine. As GoodFellas-esq as Commissioner Goodell’s decision to burn the footage was, most of us moved on from the debacle after the Patriots’ remarkable 2007 season.
Most of us.
“I should have another ring,” James Harrison said. “We were the best team in football in 2004, but the Patriots, who we beat during the regular season, stole our signals and picked up 90 percent of our blitzes [in the AFC Championship Game]. They got busted for it later, but, hey, they’re Goodell’s boys, so he slapped ‘em $500,000 and burned the tapes. Was he going to rescind their Super Bowls? Man, hell no!”
Some of what Harrison said is true. Technically the Steelers were the best REGULAR season team in ’04, posting a 15-1 record. Additionally, his team snapped the aforementioned record-breaking winning streak held by the Patriots.
Since we’re playing the “Quote Game” [which is just as fun as "Angry Birds" or "Words With Friends"], let me drudge up a quote from the past to answer Harrison’s outburst.
Hold on a second, while skim through the iPod.
“You ain’t gotta like me, You Just Mad. Cuz I tell it how it is, and you tell it how it might be” — “Victory” by Puff Daddy (at the time that was his name)
You see, on the other hand, the argument lacks depth. In their regular season match up in 2004, the Patriots were without an integral part of their offense, Corey Dillon. The team only rushed the ball 6 times, accumulating a destitute 5 yards. This coerced the Patriots to rely heavily on the arm of Tom Brady and, after falling behind early, New England lost. Having easily defeated the Patriots that game, the Steelers were confident going into their AFC Championship game against New England at home.
Before we go there, hit the fast forward button to last season. Just like the Steelers, the Patriots dispatched of the New York Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football. Like the Steelers, New England posted the best record the NFL last year during the regular season, at 14-2. After dominating the Jets, they seemed poised for another deep playoff run, but were upset by New York. The bottom line? Regular season success does not always translate to postseason domination. That’s why you play the games, James.
Maybe Harrison is right? Maybe the information attained made victory all-but-certain for the men donning the Flying Elvis. Surely, Post-Spy-Gate success would be mitigated by the NFL thwarting any new videotaping, right?
Since “Spy-Gate,” the Patriots are 2-1 against Steelers. The only loss came in the 2008 campaign – that’s right – the same season Matt Cassel was at the helm. The two games New England had their two-time MVP of the league Tom Brady at the helm, they thrashed Harrison and his peers for an average of 36.5 points per game.
So I ask you, Mr. Harrison, to go to the nearest TV, find ABC Family and watch around 4 PM on a given weekday and take some advice from The Stamos..
“It doesn’t take strength to hold a grudge; it takes strength to let go of one.” –Jesse (John Stamos), Full House