There is a romance, a pleasurable anticipation, a certain hopeless inevitability, in supporting a team that never wins. The sweet anguish of unfulfilled longing is a mistress impossible to resist. It is one of those things that makes up a fan(atic).
I was 22 and a student living in Boston when I fell in love with the New England Patriots. Hook. Line. Sinker. How could you not love a hometown team that had never won a Super Bowl in your lifetime?
It would take the Patriots another decade and change before it achieved the unthinkable one late winter’s day in 2002 by lifting American football’s holy grail, the Super Bowl. By then I was living two continents and a lifetime away from the sport and it felt almost anticlimactic. ‘Is this what Brecht would have felt like if Godot had one day showed up at his doorstep’, I wondered?
But I need not have worried, for the golden period of Patriot’s football was ahead. The Rubicon had been crossed and history was about to be made.
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The golden age of the New England Patriots
It all changed for the Patriots with the arrival of one man. Bill Belichick gave up a head coach position with the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Patriots as assistant head coach and defensive backs coordinator in 1996. That would turn out to be the start of the Patriots transformation into a winning machine.
From 1996 the Patriots won the AFC East Division championship 18 times, the AFC Conference ten times and made the play-offs 19 times. And after Belichick took over as head coach in 2000 and acquired Tom Brady they won the Super Bowl an incredible six times.
It has truly been the golden age for the New England Patriots, and like all supremely dominating teams in any sport, they are loved by the fans and despised by everyone else in equal measure.
Doing things differently