Being a fan of the New England Patriots, I mostly feel like an outcast. The only time I feel safe and loved is when I’m in the presence of other fans of the single greatest dynasty in the history of American sports.
Having normal and civilized conversations with other football fans isn’t easy when my team is successful, and theirs most likely isn’t.
I’m almost numb to the excitement of New England playing in Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday. The Patriots already beat the Eagles 13 years ago on this same stage under eerily similar, yet vastly different circumstances.
The big game will be played between the two No. 1 seeds, as it was when the two teams met in 2005. The Patriots are playing for its third Lombardi trophy in four years and for the second time against Philadelphia.
And the Eagles will, after two failed attempts, be looking for its first Super Bowl title.
In big games like this, it’s only natural that Philadelphia, the more inexperienced and less successful team, feels wary on sport’s biggest stage because they have yet to experience the gravity of the occasion.
However, the Patriots have won so many times that being the favorite isn’t enough for them anymore. They need to find a way to motivate themselves through the redundancy of victory.
Two hundred and thirty-six wins, 12 AFC Championship games in seven straight appearances, and five Super Bowl championships since 2001 has rather piled the pressure on New England to win their sixth ring and reach football immortality.
I never was able to feel the sorrows of only making the playoffs three times in the last eight years, in the case of Eagles fans, because the Patriots have made it for the last nine.
I appreciate the Eagles for taking defeat so that I could wallow in success for the past two decades. However, I now envy their position as underdogs in such a momentous game. I’ve forgotten how it feels to be second.
Of course, if I must leave New England’s opponents this weekend out of the conversation, the Patriots have been met with allegations over recent years from NFL coaches, owners and executives.
The unfortunate part is New England keeps winning.
After Spygate—the 2007 controversy in which the Patriots were punished for filming opposing teams—New England won its first title. After Deflategate—the accusations in 2015 that the Patriots had under-inflated the game ball for their advantage—the Patriots won its fourth by coming back from a 28-3 deficit, the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
And in the same way, after this season’s apparent rift between head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots will again prevail as champions.
To all American football fans on the other side of history, I ask, why do you hate winning?