Eighth Time’s the Sweetest

By Ryan Whitfield

Twitter: @RyanWhitfieldNE

“Keep Doubting.”

“We Love itttt.”

“Let’s goooo.”

These were a series of text messages that I woke up to on Monday morning a week ago today. A friend from College, a Philly Native, and a man who had clearly consumed a lot of alcohol and green colored Koolaid were the senders of said messages. I replied in a dismissive half-hearted manner.  After all, despite his chest puffing and bravado, it’s not like he had beaten my beloved Patriots. His reply “You’re so scared.” But, I’m not.

Not more than 5 years ago, I would’ve launched into an angry outburst of swears and texts about his historically loser franchise. Remind him, that they’ve never won a thing. That their glory days were losing 3 out of 4 NFC Championships and one Super Bowl, to guess who. But, that’s not where I’m at right now. I’m not scared of this game.

Now, I believe this game will be close. I won’t pick against the Patriots, but I wouldn’t be stunned if The Eagles win. I buy into the Eagles defense (outside of the linebackers), I believe in the offensive weapons against an average Patriots defense, and I think Foles can be good enough. I’ll break down the game more in depth later this week, but this isn’t the point of today’s piece.

And please, let me be clear. I want this ring. The Montana/Young 49ers dynasty won 5. Getting 6 in this run would legitimize the Patriots as the best Dynasty of all time. It would tie them with Pittsburgh for most titles all time. And, after giving the league a 25 year head start, they’d be the best team in the history of the league. 3 out of 4 twice in this run, the only team to go back to back this millennium and do it twice, and all of the rest of the accomplishments. I can remember being 13 in February of 2002 sitting at my friend Steve’s house in disbelief as Brady drove the Patriots in to field goal range to upset the “Greatest Show on Turf”. I couldn’t imagine what I’d go on to witness.

I’m making my annual trip to visit my family in the Twin Cities this weekend, albeit with a bit more excitement then most years. I will be a mess the minute the game kicks off. I will yell at Brady, hurl insults at McDaniels (for one last time), and embarrass those with me and irritate those around me. It’s just who I am. But, for the first time in 9 trips (yes, I was old enough to be invested in the 1996 Super Bowl when Desmond Howard ripped out my 8 year old heart) I’m not scared.

McDaniels and Patricia are leaving. Jimmy G has been traded, and if you really don’t believe there is ego battling between the holy triumvirate right now, you most sleep in a Pat the Patriot costume. It feels like the Patriots will be starting over in their run next year, similar to the 05-08 reset. But this time, the QB is 40, the coach nearly 70, and this may be the end. I’m enjoying the experience this time. It feels like a curtain call, and while I still want this team to win, I need to not take this for granted.

Over the last 18 years here’s the list of what I’ve been able to witness. 15 Division Titles, 12 AFC title games, 8 Super Bowls, and, for now, 5 Titles. If they win, 6 will be oh-so-sweet. If they lose, well hey, 5-3 and all of this fun along the way, all I can do is appreciate the most unbelievable run in modern sports.

So to my friend in Philly, or to the rest of my Patriot hating peers, you can’t phase me. Philly, you need this. And while I want it, I don’t need it. Call it arrogance, call it being desensitized, but I don’t care. I’m enjoying the ride, the ride most of you will never know. You will never get to feel this joy, these moments to this degree or the expected feeling of rubbing all of your noses in it in this article. I’m not scared, win or lose, you are all still the real losers.


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