In case you had not heard, the New England Patriots just won their fourth Super Bowl of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era. This is a truly incredible feat and a time for New Englanders such as myself to rejoice at the continued success of our football franchise. It is clear, however, that this joy is not shared by football fans around the country. Being accused of deflating footballs and winning a Super Bowl off of a terrible last-minute play call do little to diminish the negativity surrounding the Patriots.
I have gotten used to the hatred people feel toward the Patriots. Any sports franchise that is able to sustain success over a long period of time will eventually face animosity from teams of less successful organizations. The Patriots are being compared to historically despised franchises like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers. Tom Brady is considered a “pretty boy” and Bill Belichick is imagined as the devil in a hoodie.
Recently, one of my friends from Chicago remarked that he can’t stand Boston sports fans because their teams “win too much.” At first, I thought he was being hypocritical, considering the championships won by the White Sox and Blackhawks in the last decade. Of course, there is also an element of recency bias at play. If this were 20 years ago, people would be sick of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls winning six NBA championships. But the more I thought about it, it dawned on me that since 2000, Boston sports franchises have had an amazing run of success.
The Boston Red Sox, for decades a joke among MLB fans, were able to end the curse of Babe Ruth in 2004 with a remarkable post-season run that included coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and eventually led to the franchise’s first World Series win in 86 years. The Red Sox managed to win the World Series again in 2007. People were amazed that the once tortured franchise was able to win two championships in a span of less than five seasons. Things were looking promising in 2011 before losing 18 of their final 24 games in September and failing to make the playoffs. This carried into the 2012 season, as the Red Sox had a record of 69-93 and finished last place in the American League East for the first time in 20 years. Incredibly, the team went from worst to first the next season and won their third World Series since 2004. It was a rousing win for the city of Boston, which had suffered the Boston bombing that spring.
The height of success of Boston sports really came between 2007 and 2012. During these years, the Red Sox won the World Series, the Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Patriots did not win any titles but made it to the Super Bowl in both 2008 and 2012, where they lost both times to the New York Giants. However, during the 2008 regular season, the Patriots made history by going undefeated. Although the Celtics only won the title in 2008, they were the favorites to win it in 2009 before Kevin Garnett’s injury, and then in 2010 they lost in an extremely close seven-game series to the Lakers. Even though Boston teams did not win championships every year during that span, all of the major franchises had the chance to contend for one.
Since 2000, the four major sports franchises from Boston have won a combined nine championships. Still, Tom Brady is approaching forty, and the Celtics are currently rebuilding, so there is a chance that this may have been the last Boston championship for a while.