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  • They might be villains, but you'll probably never see anything like this again
By Kalyn Kahler
January 28, 2019

The Patriots are—without a doubt—easy to hate. Unprecedented success, mixed with a couple of scandals, is a recipe for the perfect NFL villain. And just when you though the Bad Guys were finally having a down season, they find a way back to the Super Bowl again.

To all you Pats Haters, I get it. It's probably just as much fun to hate the Evil Empire as it is to root for your own team. But this week, I urge you to take a moment and appreciate the unlikelihood of this run. Eight straight AFC championships games. Nine Super Bowl appearances. Five rings. A 41-year-old quarterback showing no signs of slowing down. And we get to watch it all unfold.

One day in the near-ish future, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will retire ("near-ish" because Brady has already said there is “zero” chance he’ll retire after SB LIII), and when that day comes you’ll wake up feeling a little bit empty inside. You’ll realize you actually miss the Patriots era of the NFL. So before it’s too late, I thought I’d take this edition of The Morning Huddle to remind you why the Patriots deserve your appreciation.

Brady and Belichick’s nine Super Bowl appearances account for 17% of all Super Bowls ever played. To match that rate, a Major League Baseball player would have had to appear in 19 World Series, a hockey player in 17 Stanley Cup Finals, and a basketball player in 12 NBA Finals. Legendary Celtics center Bill Russell actually set this standard for winning, with 12 NBA Finals appearances and 11 titles in 13 seasons—but outside of Russell, the Patriots' success is unmatched. 

Those nine Super Bowl appearances are the most of any player, and the most of any coach, and is more than twice as many of any other Coach-QB duo in the NFL’s Super Bowl era. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw went 4-0, Tom Landry and Roger Staubach went 2-2, Marv Levy and Jim Kelly went 0-4, Bill Walsh and Joe Montana went 3-0. Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr won five NFL championships (the last two were the first two Super Bowls) in six title-game appearances.

The NFL has never seen a run like this, and may never see one like it again. Even Brady knows how absurd this all is, departing from his typical media persona as New England’s robotic leader. Brady’s joy after winning the AFC title game in overtime was so genuine, his excitement so pure, that it felt like a new glimpse of the quarterback. “I never imagined any of this, believe me,” he told Peter King. "This is beyond. I mean, who could ever imagine this? Nine Super Bowls?”

And if you can't stomach the thought of ring No. 6 for Belichick and Brady, consider 10-year veteran Jason McCourty. The twin brother of nine-year Patriots safety Devin McCourty, Jason played for the Titans and Browns before New England acquired him in March. Before this season, he had never once made the playoffs, while Devin had never once missed the playoffs. Jason watched Devin play in four Super Bowls, winning two rings. Now he finally gets his chance to play for a ring, and he’s so excited that he’s annoying his teammates.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Robert Klemko on the advantage teams get from coaching the Senior Bowl...  Michael Rosenberg on the first Rams-Patriots Super Bowl... and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Ben Baskin with an oral history of the last Atlanta Super Bowl... Jonathan Jones went to Todd Gurley's high school to learn about his path to NFL stardom... and more.


1. A lot of people showed up to send off the Patriots. 

2. The latest in last week's officiating meltdown: Four of the officials who worked the Rams-Saints game are from Southern California. 

3. How Tom Brady uses his eyes as a tool of deception.


A nice tribute.

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