Surprise! Surprise! The New England Patriots are once again in the AFC Championship game and just one win away from another Super Bowl appearance. Now half of you cheered after reading that, even if it was from the inside, and the other half groaned in disgust and rolled your eyes at the possibility of the Patriots once again hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. There is no middle ground when it comes to the Patriots. You either love them or you hate them. That's it. Any football fan that tells you that they neither like nor hate the Patriots cannot be trusted. They are extremely indecisive and you don't need those kinds of people in your life.
In what is considered the most competitive sport in America, it's a wonder as to how the Patriots continue to do it. Even with injuries across the board, they can pick up the next Joe Schmoe off the practice squad and not miss a beat. Critics would claim that they are given every advantage possible on and off the field. Supporters will say it's because of the great coaching mind of Bill Belichick or quarterback Tom Brady. Maybe they are all right.
One thing is for sure, like the Yankees in baseball, the Patriots are the most hated team in football. It's easy to see why, not just from their success but the controversies that they've been involved in throughout that success. From in-game rule changes to numerous cheating scandals, it's no wonder so many people hate the Patriots. We countdown the top 15 reasons to hate the New England Patriots.
15 The Third Down Horn
Every stadium has some kind of alert that notifies when the opposing team has third down (or fourth) coming up to signify that a stop potentially gets the home team the ball back. I've never been to Gillette Stadium but I don't have to to know that the Patriots third down horn is, arguably, the most annoying sound in all of sports. The only thing that may come close is the guy that yells "Deeeeeee-Troit Bas-Ket-Ball" for the Pistons in the NBA just to be sure that you know there are five syllables in Detroit basketball. I'm not totally sure but it sounds as if the Patriots took the goal horn from the Boston Bruins and ran with it. It's highly annoying just to hear it through the television. They should give a free bottle of Ibuprofen for anyone entering the game for the headache that's to come.
14 Running Up The Score
It's no secret that head coach Bill Belichick has no issues with running up the score on opponents, no matter who's across the sidelines. In October 2007, Belichick and the Patriots ran up the score on Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs and the Redskins, 52-7. Belichick was criticized harshly for electing to go for it on 4th down in the 4th quarter, already up 38-0. It was not the first time nor the last. They did it again starting this season as some kind of Deflategate revenge. You know cause blowing out the lowly Jaguars will really make a statement. On the contrary though, it is up to defenses to stop them if they don't like it. Still, it's one thing to hand the ball off and the guy breaks one for a touchdown and it's another throwing Hail Mary's with the game out of reach.
13 No Fantasy Running Backs
Those that play fantasy football know how irritating it can be to own any of New England's players in the backfield. Even Patriots fans are nodding in approval at this one. Bill Belichick is obviously not a fan of fantasy football and even withholds injury reports until the very last minute, disgruntling owners everywhere. For the running backs, it's the worst. If you own Brady, Gronk, or Julian Edelman, then you're fine. However, Belichick never gives a clear direction with his running backs. One week it's this back, next week it's that back. Remember Jonas Gray? Gray scored an astounding four touchdowns in November 2014 in a game against the Colts. Later that week, Gray missed practice because he overslept and was jumped on the depth chart by fellow back LeGarrette Blount and company. Eventually, Gray was cut and spent this season bumping around the league like a ping-pong ball.
12 Claim 6 States
When the Patriots moved to Foxborough in 1971, they elected to change the name from Boston to New England, thus allowing them to claim six states' worth of fans. How states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, even Connecticut (I'm not going to count Rhode Island because it's more of a blip on the map than a state) get to claim an NFL team over other more popular football states like Oklahoma or Alabama is a real head scratcher. Originally the Boston Patriots, New England could've kept Boston since many teams in the league represent cities they don't actually play in.
11 The Snowplow Game
Long before there was Spygate or Deflategate, there was the Snowplow game. Not many know about the Snowplow game between the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins in 1982. This is as far back as the cheating claims against New England goes. The game was played in the middle of a snowstorm and both teams were battling to a 0-0 brawl in the harsh conditions late into the 4th quarter. Before attempting a late field goal, Patriots coach Ron Meyer asked for a snowplow to clear the yard markers. This was normal. However, snowplow operator Mark Henderson, had other plans. He decided to clear a spot clearly in front of the New England kicker. The kick was good and the Patriots won the game, 3-0. Like instances since, nothing was done about the situation other than snowplows were banned the following year from being used during games. Another high secret of the matter is that Henderson was actually a convicted burglar at the time on a work release program.
10 NFL Favorites
Don't get it twisted. Just because Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft had a knockdown, dragged out fight over Deflategate, these two remain very good friends. A little too good in fact. New England fans will argue that they are always "picked on" in a sense by the NFL but it's the opposite that holds truth. Sure, the NFL attempted to come down on the Patriots (at least that's what we were led to believe) but again, a slap on the wrist was the result after Tom Brady's four-game suspension was reversed by a judge. Since Deflategate, Kraft and Goodell have kept their relationship 'strong', leading conspiracy theorists to believe they were in on it the whole time. With everything that New England has been involved with over the years, the punishment never seems to fit the crime, signs that the NFL favors its New England team and their wrongdoings.
9 The Fans
Of course it cannot be said of all, but a lot of Patriots fans come across as the most annoying and worst of the NFL. As expected, the New England territory was the only one, when polled, that believed Tom Brady was innocent in his role during Deflategate. Their argument stems from "Where's the proof?" Like it matters. The evidence could've been thrown at them until they were blue in the face and the New England faithful still would've denied the accusations. To call them stubborn would be the understatement of the year.
The thing is Pats fans actually believe they are a part of the team. However, ask them to name five players not named Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, and the majority will look at you like a deer in the headlights. Never afraid to declare "we won" during the good times, the attitude generally changes to "they lost" when the Patriots fall short. Hmm. There's no denying the strong fan base New England has but it will truly be tested when the Patriots eventually fall from their place at the top.
8 Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft is one of the more popular owners in the NFL. Much of his notoriety stems from his involvement in helping to end the player’s strike in 2011. While all fans were grateful to have football back, Kraft has always been suspected of being involved too much in NFL operations. As previously mentioned, Kraft and Commissioner Roger Goodell have a strong relationship as friends. Practically best friends with the commish and at the forefront of the labor movement, there’s something fishy about the Kraft Master. A lot of people believe that Kraft had his hand in the eventual outcome of Deflategate that left quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots organization unscathed after their appeal, save the loss of a couple draft picks.
Reports surfaced in September 2015 that Kraft was 'mingling' with the judge that overturned Brady's suspension at a party located at the Hamptons. Nothing was ever fully proven in the investigation even though Brady appeared guilty from all angles and that, at minimum, knew at least what was going on. Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended an entire year for Bountygate and he was never involved.
7 Rob Gronkowski
The Gronk is an incredible athlete at 6’ 6” and 265 pounds. The tight end of the Patriots is the best at his position based on his size and good hands. Even as Tom Brady’s number one option, he finds the ability to get open and is tough to take down when the ball’s in his hands. The problem with Gronk is that he can be incredibly annoying. Outside of Julian Edelman’s Tinder moment that put the receiver on blast, Rob is the most active Patriot on social media. While there’s nothing wrong with that, he forgets that he’s a football player and not a comedian. When Deflategate was first reported, Gronk posted a picture of himself performing his Gronk Spike with the caption “sorry.” Patriot fans may have laughed but everyone else looked at it as a poor attempt to downplay the accusations.
6 The Tuck Rule
Another snow game involving the Patriots that ended in controversy is the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Raiders. Football fans across the nation learned another rule that evening after Tom Brady appeared to fumble late in the game after a sack that would’ve sealed it for the Raiders. Referees overturned the call, ruling it an incomplete pass, allowing the Patriots to kick a game-tying field goal and sending the game into overtime, where they won. They would go on to win their first Super Bowl of the new century and develop the famous “Tuck Rule.” The call was voted into the Top 10 Most Controversial Calls in the NFL.
In 2007, the Patriots were once again the center of attention in what is known as the Spygate controversy. Staff members of the Patriots were caught videotaping coaching signals of the Jets on the sidelines. Even though videotaping coaching signals is not illegal, the sidelines are an unauthorized location, and thus, were deemed a violation of league rules by Roger Goodell. New England and coach Bill Belichick were charged with maximum fines and lost their first round pick in 2008, but no suspensions were handed out. You may remember that this occurred the same season in which the Patriots went undefeated on their way to Super Bowl XLII. Their chance at perfection though came up short against the Giants. Those who believe that the punishment did not fit the crime in the Spygate scandal looked at the loss as an act of karma.
4 Tom Brady
For anyone who’s not a Patriots fan, it’s quite easy not to like the guy and it has nothing to do with his skill set. No one denies his athletic ability and future Hall of Fame status, despite coming out as a sixth round pick. It’s everything else that comes with Brady that people can’t stand. When the Deflategate accusations arose, Brady did nothing to prove his innocence. When a reporter asked if he had cheated, he hesitated and then responded, “I don’t think so.” Really Brady? That’s the best answer you could come up with? Guilty by association.
Brady’s even been labeled as a crybaby by other NFL players, most recently by members of the Denver Broncos, pointing to his consistent whining (and getting) of calls. Brady’s an overall nice guy but he sometimes has that “I’m untouchable” persona about him that just makes you want to hit him. The Broncos may get their chance this weekend.
3 Bill Belichick
As hated as Tom Brady may be, he doesn’t light a torch to the hatred of head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick has to be respected in some sense because his accomplishments at this level are astonishing. He’s been head coach of the Patriots since 2000 and in a league where head coaches are a dime a dozen, that’s quite the accomplishment in and of itself. It’s his personality and his questioned integrity of the game that makes Bill so hated. At the center of all the controversies surrounding the Patriots in the last 15 years, Belichick seems to take the “whatever it takes to win” attitude to another level.
Also, he always seems to be angry. You would think as much as the Patriots win that Bill could crack a joke or at least a smile once in a while. At most, he may have smirked after winning a Super Bowl but that’s about all you’re going to get out of Bill. Maybe it’s all the cheating accusations that has got Belichick upset. Hey Bill, lighten up. You’re rich and you’re winning. It can’t be that bad.
If you've been hiding under a rock for the past year or on the same island as Stephen Amell in Arrow, then let me explain the controversy. Deflategate stemmed from last season's AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. During the game, Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Brady. Jackson brought the ball to the sidelines and informed the Colts staff that the ball felt pretty light. It was brought to the attention of the referees, who inspected the PSI levels of the Patriots' footballs. All except one fell well short of the levels required by the NFL. The investigation went on all the way up until week 1 of the 2015 season.
Originally, the NFL suspended Tom Brady four games to begin the season for his alleged involvement. However, days before their first regular season game, a judge overruled the suspension and Brady was allowed to play. Once again at the center stage of a controversial scandal, the Patriots received nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
1 Jealousy And Envy
Envy breeds jealousy; jealousy breeds hate. We've heard the saying before. It's said that everyone loves a winner but it could also be said everyone hates a winner. This weekend, New England faces off against Denver in Manning vs. Brady version 17.0, with the winner punching a ticket to Super Bowl 50. Pinch me if you've heard this before. The Patriots have, without question, been the most dominant NFL team in the 21st century. They've reached the Super Bowl six times in the new century (eight overall) and won four of them. Those six appearances are an NFL record for a quarterback (Brady) and coach (Belichick) tandem. Even though the integrity of the sport often comes into question with New England, the success of the franchise cannot be denied. They've cemented themselves in NFL history and will go down as the most dominant team of this era.