Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Daily Super Bowl Hype Meme: The Pats as the Greatest Team Ever?

Picking up on the theme of yesterday’s meme, the status of the desultory crotchety members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, let’s look at another overarching theme for this fortnight: are the 2007 New England Patriots the best team ever?

A fascinating question. And the ultimate case of putting the cart before the horse. I think it’s pretty much beyond dispute that should New England honk the Super Bowl, they’re going to be remembered in the same context as the 1991 UNLV Running Rebels—a team that had a tremendous, epic regular season, and utterly choked against a good team when it mattered most. We at the GRBG hate to oversimplify matters, but you can’t take the throne of “best ever” when you don’t win the championship. And we haven’t played the damn game yet. How on earth can you even consider whether or not the Pats are in the pantheon until they’ve had a shot to win?

Still, let’s play along with this moronic game and buy the proposition that the Pats are inexorably destined to win on Sunday night. Great, they must be one of the best, right? Who knows? Another big cart/horse issue is that you have to believe how the Pats win the game is part and parcel with how they’re ultimately judged. There’s a reason that we consider the 1985 Bears and 1989 Niners to be in the Best Ever argument while the 1999 Rams are nowhere to be found—in addition to dominating regular seasons, they utterly annihilated their competition in the Super Bowls. Doesn’t it matter whether the final score is 63-7 or 21-20? I have to think yes.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that arguing about whether the Pats are the best ever is simply another matter of building the hype machine. “SEE THE BEST TEAM EVER!” “CAN THEY GO 19-0?” Please. Are you insinuating that whether or not the Pats lost that game to the Ravens would change anything about this game? This is simply a further extension of Teddy’s observations on the Neilsen ratings for the game: a way of promoting something that doesn’t need promoting.

It’s only fitting that we’re discussing this today, on the one year anniversary of Barbaro’s death and the day that they determined to scatter his ashes at Churchill Downs. (Why did this take a year to decide? What do I look like, his biographer?) After Barbaro romped in the Derby, the entire media and racing world had crowned him the next Seattle Slew, and our 12th Triple Crown winner. Two weeks later, he had lost the Preakness due to injury and running into a buzzsaw in Bernardini, and nine months later he was dead. This is not to pour on Barbaro, but to point out the obvious: they play the games because nothing is a fait accompli in sports. For all we know, Matt Light will get herpes and miss the Super Bowl, Lawrence Moroney’s helmet will end up in the Thurman Thomas Wormhole, and Tom Brady will spend half the game on the floor. That would probably change the end result and moot this debate, wouldn’t it? Denny Green notwithstanding, it's a bit early to crown their asses.

In short, let’s have them play the damn game first before we determine that the Pats belong in the upper echelon of teams. This debate is a pointless one until the game is over, but will become a real one should Belichick hoist the Lombardi at 10 PM Sunday night. Therefore, let’s give this about a 5 on the Bullshitatron for digging up a real idea at the dumbest time.

1 comment:

Teddy said...

The only way this storyline gets paid off is if (1) the Patriots win, (2) Belichick is asked at the post-game news conference whether this is the best team ever, and (3) he says "Yes," completely deadpan. The internet would burn down if that happened.