If you can’t beat ’em, redefine what it means to lose to ’em.
Financially, all NFL teams win. Bigly. Competitively, the Patriots have cracked the code on how to consistently kick everyone else’s asses, and that drives everyone else crazy.
So what do these other teams do? They’ve tried, on multiple occasions, to replace “they’re simply much, much better at this than us” with “they cheat.” And now that the Patriots have won three of the last five Super Bowls and appeared in three in a row four years after the Colts instigated a grossly trumped-up cheating scandal, Colts owner Jim Irsay is trying to redefine what it means to be the greatest team ever, at a time when the greatest team ever is staring him right in the face.
“The G.O.A.T. Standard for NFL Teams is simple and I’ve discussed the seemingly impossible goal with many in NFL circles over the last half of Century,” Irsay tweeted on Saturday. “3 World Championships in a row. NO ONE’S DONE IT! Colt’s [sic] Fans Dream Boldly.” (Irsay, in a subsequent tweet, clarified his claim to mean three straight championships in the Super Bowl era, because the three NFL titles in a row thing has been done, by the Packers, twice.)
Well, Jim, if/when someone wins three Super Bowls in a row, we can compare that accomplishment to what the Patriots have done. Until that happens, the debate must be confined to the available evidence. And the available evidence points inescapably to the fact that, in an era of free agency, the salary cap, and (ostensibly) parity, the Patriots have appeared in nine Super Bowls in 18 years, they’ve won six of them, and they continue to play deep into January (or February) every year, retreat to 0-0 with everyone else, and then find a way to climb to the top of the mountain all over again.
Irsay, clearly not understanding that the term “greatest of all time” is a title that never was meant to be vacant, seems to think that his team can win three in a row. Maybe they can. But, surely, G.M. Chris Ballard, coach Frank Reich, quarterback Andrew Luck, and the rest of the franchise would prefer that the bar set by Irsay be slightly lower.