The Pats still get that treatment because, unlike other NFL dynasties, the Pats have yet to slide out of consistent contention. Instead, they’ve made the playoffs every year since their most recent Super Bowl win, with the exception of the season that began with Tom Brady tearing an ACL. (Even then, the Pats went 11-5 under Matt Cassel.) Because the Patriots are always kicking on the door, they still have the aura of a team that periodically kicks it in.
Not everyone agrees with that, including Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich.
“That whole era is over with. It’s gone,” Ninkovich told WEEI on Monday. “So this is a whole new team. It’s a different bunch of guys. We all have to experience it and learn for ourselves what it’s like. Getting in the Super Bowl last year and losing left a bad taste in my mouth.”
The era of winning Super Bowls is indeed over. But the Pats continue to be regarded elite team, because they are. They just haven’t won a Super Bowl in eight years.