But why? Let’s focus on why the Patriots are so polarizing. I don’t want to hear about Spygate. For one thing, just about every team in sports tries to at least bend (if not break) rules in order to gain an edge. The Patriots are not the only team to blur the line a little bit.
Secondly, the hatred of the Patriots by non-fans goes deeper than Spygate, and it started before that too. Spygate didn’t cause people to start hating the Patriots; people already loathed the Patriots and relished them being in trouble with the league. They loved that they could point and say, “see, they cheat, that’s why I hate them!” It wasn’t the reason people began to despise the Patriots though. So why do people love to hate the Patriots?
Is it because they are successful? The Patriots win, a lot. It’s like the line from the first Sam Raimi directed Spider Man movie:
“The one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.”
Not that teams or even players are really heroes, but most would agree that quote is a pretty accurate statement. For some reason, people love to hate and root against the teams/players who are on top. Who knows how that began, but it is apparent everyday that people love to see whoever is on top fail.
Last year’s AFC Championship game must have been nauseating for some people for that reason — they had to either root for the Patriots (and by extension Tom Brady) or the Denver Broncos (and therefore Peyton Manning).
Is it because of head coach Bill Belichick and Brady? It’s no secret that Patriots fans love Belichick and Brady and believe they form one of, if not the best coach-QB combo of all time, while non-Patriots fans loathe them and can find faults with both. Sure, Belichick and Brady aren’t exactly the most fun interviews most of the time and they are usually all-business, but have they really done anything to earn hatred?
That’s a rhetorical question, but I’m going to answer it anyway. No, they haven’t done anything to earn being despised by fans, but people continue to hope that they fail.
Maybe it’s because people feel the Patriots have calls go their way more often than not (ie. the “Tuck Rule,” which was monumental in the “Snow Game,” or the “Brady Rule” which all QBs now benefit from). Just for the record, this is ridiculous. People hated the Patriots before they began feeling like the Patriots got all of the calls. People just remember when New England has a call go their way because they can’t stand anything good happening to the Patriots.
It’s like in poker; you hardly remember exactly how you win hands, but the bad beats? Those are extremely easy to call to memory. The same psychology applies here. People who hate the Patriots want to remember all of the times a call went their way, but not when a call goes against the Patriots.
So in the end, who knows exactly why people hate the Patriots so much, but it is that passion that makes football so great.