David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Boston Globe wonders whether it's still fun to be a Patriots fan

Kyle DaLuz
June 20, 2018 - 1:35 pm

You would think that after years of mediocrity, the recent run of Patriots success - arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of team sports - would be as enjoyable an experience for Patriots fans as any. According to the Boston Globe, that may not be the case.

Boston.com's Dave D'Onofrio wonders if the drama surrounding New England this offseason is enough to question if the Patriot fan experience is "fun."

D'Onofrio acknowledges the great success of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era - five Super Bowl championships, eight AFC titles, 15 AFC East division titles, the list goes on and on - but asks if all the winning can make up for the pressure of having such high expectations year in and year out.

"Is it fun rooting for a team when every game isn’t analyzed on its own merits, but is instead dissected under the microscope of what it means for the team’s aspirations for January and February?" he asks. "Even at playoff time, Pats fans seem conditioned to be more concerned that Tennessee led 7-0 after a quarter than impressed that their team rattled off the next 35 points in what should be the ultimate survive-and-advance scenario."

Think of the term "Pats fans" as a loose one if you're one who is not enjoying watching this run unfold in Foxboro. Talking heads on sports talk radio often don't speak for the fans of any given organization.

How can it be fun when Malcolm Butler gets benched in the Super Bowl with zero explanation postgame, or because Brandon Bolden, James Develin, and Joe Cardona were the ones signing here while Butler, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nate Solder and Dion Lewis were signing elsewhere this offseason, D'Onofrio asks.

Was he around last offseason when the Patriots splurged and made Stephon Gilmore the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL and re-signed Dont'a Hightower? Or when they traded a first-round pick for star wide receiver Brandin Cooks, adding to an offense that already had Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola?

This concept relates back to talk this offseason of players claiming the Patriot Way and playing in New England is "not fun." Cassius Marsh, Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham and others chided the Patriots' way of doing things, while beloved players like Tedy Bruschi and Martellus Bennett, to name a few, defended the system down at One Patriot Place.

As evidence by talk this offseason across shows on WEEI and beyond, the majority of fans don't seem to care about the apparent rift between Belichick and Brady as it currently stands. If results on the field change, public opinion among the Foxboro faithful may change, too. But for 18 years, winning at the highest level in the biggest games time and again has proved to be as enjoyable as a fan experience can be.

Ask the fans who sat through those brutal Patriot seasons in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s on the benches of Foxboro Stadium if this 19-year run has been an enjoyable experience for them.

Winning playoff games on the back of touchdown passes being thrown by Pro Bowl receivers, coming back in the fourth quarter of all five of your Super Bowl victories (and storming back down 25 just two seasons ago), and playing each championship game down to the wire (all decided by eight points or less) is as much drama and anxiety as a fan could ask for, despite D'Onofrio questioning where the angst has been over the course of this dominating run.

Which other fans are having more watching their team in the NFL right now?

The answer is none, because no one is winning at the clip the Patriots have for nearly two decades. When the winning stops, maybe then the fun will stop for players and fans, too.


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