Scary Good

What's really frightening, after a decade of dominance, about the New England Patriots.
Share |
I see what you did there.

Photo by David Roth.

The man in the Gatorade-colored Gillette Stadium Ops Team windbreaker charged our rented, champagne-colored SUV just a brief moment after he had reluctantly waved us past. His whoa-whoa-whoa's Doppler Effected their way towards us, and then the man's face was at the driver's side window. "What are we doing here?" he asked, not in the way that one might ask that question while parking a mile from a football stadium in subzero temperatures four hours before kickoff, but more in the tone a security guard might use when collaring to a pre-teen shoplifter casually attempting to clank out of a Safeway with two dozen cans of soup down his pants.

Jeff, who was driving and with whom I was in Foxborough, Massachusetts to cover the New England Patriots divisional round game against the Denver Broncos, rolled down the window and explained that he was parking the car. Ops Team told Jeff, with the same loud incredulity, that he was parking too far from the truck next to him, then stalked back to his post; Jeff was convinced that he heard him say something about "Giants fans" as he did. Ops Team was still shaking his head when we walked past him, and began the trek towards the workplace of the NFL's sourest and quite possibly best football team.

Between that hinterland parking spot and the stadium was, in order: several acres of unpaved, free-form parking; dirt paths and hurricane fences; lurching Escher-ian helixes of ill-tempered traffic; a sprawling, twilit tailgate tent city of cornhole games, happy drunks in replica jerseys, and incongruously rustic hardwood fires hissing and flaring outside custom vans flying Patriots flags; more avant-garde traffic; a frozen outdoor mall with speakers bumping piped-in sports talk radio, a Victoria's Secret, a Bath and Body Works, and a boot-in-your-ass/it's-the-American-way take on Houlihan's called Toby Keith's I (Heart) This Bar + Grill. And then more parking, and some more up-market tailgating (which means catering-style tents, mostly), and then a few checkpoints. The Ops Team people with posts nearer to the stadium present a pre-exhausted professionalism; these were off-duty law-enforcement types saving themselves for a long night of telling the aforementioned happy drunks not to go certain places, prying less-happy drunks off those miles of hurricane fence or each other, and so on late into the night, win or lose.

Closer in still, an LED screen announces the musical performances coming soon to a nearby casino, or to the CBS Experience restaurant, which is a three-story ziggurat made of HDTV's and glass and wings. A slightly less-jumbo Jumbotron protrudes from it that's tuned to CBS and on which a steak flips, wetly and repeatedly, in an Applebee's ad. The screen says that Aaron Lewis from Staind is coming soon, to somewhere. The stadium is very close, now, although the media entrance is far on the other side, under a small awning near a service entrance and through a parking lot of idled golf cart-style security vehicles.

Everything we passed on our way to see the Patriots could, with some tweaks and exceptions—the Gillette Stadium parking setup is appallingly and unnecessarily horrible by any standard—be found at any NFL game. It's only when we get closer, both to game-time and the team itself, that it becomes impossible to forget what everyone—the giddy drunks in the Ben Coates jerseys fortifying themselves against the cold with canned macro-brews and the purple-faced big-ticket columnists king-shitting it in the press box and the chatty, professorial Revolutionary War re-enactors relaxing in the tunnel at field level, whose job it will be to fire blanks from their muskets after every Patriots score—is there to see. Which, to reiterate, is the most miserable and fascinating dominance-machine in the NFL: the Belichick Patriots, who it so happens are Super Bowl-bound again, and were about to beat the Broncos by five touchdowns. The best team of their era, probably. The most representative team of that bleak and bilious era, certainly. Those fucking guys. These fucking guys. Again.


In 2007, when the Patriots marched to the Super Bowl without so much as a loss or a let-up or a flicker of enjoyment, they seemed like something more, something crueler and inestimably worse, than a football team. New England's dominance that season was so outlandishly outsized—their average regular season margin of victory was 19.7 points, and they scored more than twice as many points as they allowed—that it was difficult to assess in a football context. Although the Patriots faded into a more familiar shade of greatness before losing in the Super Bowl, there were whole burned-over months of the season—the first two, for instance, when their average margin of victory was 25.5 points—when the team looked unlike anything that had come before. There's nothing about a two-month stretch of epic-scale, unrelenting blowouts that's fun to watch by the normal standards, but there was a certain assaultive awe to it. Imagine a stealth bomber flyover on a loop, three-and-a-half hours of roaring, brutish, death-from-above dazzlement. Then, if you really want the full 2007 Patriots experience, imagine the pilots then landing, scowlingly climbing down from the bomber's cockpit, and telling you in a low voice to go fuck yourself.

That the Patriots wore their dominance with such spectacular gracelessness was, finally, fine; pro football players are no more obliged to humor Dan Shaughnessey, for instance, than is anyone else. But leaving aside the Patriots fundamental and Constitutionally protected right to dickishness—the freedom of speech certainly extends to mumbled dismissiveness and the proffering of aggressively passive answers at press conferences—there was something deeply unappealing about how the Patriots went about performing their Patriot-ness, and how seethingly plain they made their misery after each triumph. At the end of an especially cruel and frightened decade, the Patriots seemed to embody all the joyless, thwarted smallness of our culture—snarling from victory to victory, accumulating and accumulating and somehow getting both smaller and heavier in the process, growing more paranoid, gnawed and jealous for the seeming effortlessness of those successes.

The National Bureau of Economic Research put the beginning of the recession in December of that year, which is to say that at some point in the last month of 2007, the whole ugly era reached some sour summit and began, slowly and then all at once, its descent onto all of us. The Patriots were perfect that month, of course, as they were in every other. The games were a little closer, and they were a little petty after a Week 14 win against Pittsburgh—Steelers safety Anthony Smith had predicted a Steelers win; "We've played against a lot better safeties than him," Belichick said, which counts as a third-degree burn from a man who steadfastly avoids saying anything at all, always. Otherwise, December was the same as the months that had come before. The Patriots gnashed and raged on the field, then wept disdain from their expressionless faces after. They dug graves and filled them. They kept on winning, and somehow grew only more bitter for it. It was thrilling to see the Giants put the lie to the Patriots' bilious vision of perfection in the Super Bowl, but, more than that, it was a relief.


When the Patriots were almost but not quite finished vaporizing Tim Tebow and the Broncos, Gillette Stadium's press box emptied into the elevator for the trip down to field level. The crowd, which had been singing and chanting and gloriously if a little alarmingly drunk earlier, had begun to leave during the fourth quarter, then poured out. The stadium was oddly quiet on our descent. The reportorial pod disembarked and made its way through the stadium's frozen guts. The Broncos dazed their way to the locker room, and reporters took seats in the media room or waited to be let into the locker rooms.

Another Ops Team member, this one piled grayly into a folding chair, chastised a group of television cameramen for obstructing the concourse, then appended a loud, middle-schoolian "Duh" to the end of the statement; the men silently pressed themselves against the wall. Later, in the curtained area outside the home locker room, another reporter—this one veteran, well-known, and a Boston sports fixture of long standing—was told by another seated Ops Team member to move from the middle of an otherwise empty hallway that he was, briefly, obstructing with his middle-aged body. "Stick it in your ear, lady," he said, but he moved. "They give these guys walkie-talkies and some authority and they only know how to use one of them," he told me. "This is the usual for Patriotland. It all comes down from the top." Before Belichick, that was Scott Pioli, who built the 2007 Patriots team before being hired as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. While his new team hasn't won all that much during Pioli's tenure, he has succeeded in bringing Patriotlandian nastiness, disquiet and paranoia—paranoia as in "a lousy, un-fun place to work" but also paranoia as in "the head coach thinks his office is bugged"—to Kansas City.

Charles Pierce, after that Denver game, called Belichick "the NFL's last anarchist," which is pretty much correct in terms of football aesthetics—he used rangy tight end Aaron Hernandez as a (very effective) running back against Denver, and has turned Julian Edelman (as he did Troy Brown before him) into a solid two-way contributor at wide receiver and defensive back. In every other sense, though, Belichick is a corporate-style authoritarian of a simultaneously rarefied and familiar sort, and the team he has built in his image reflects that. What offends about Belichick's Patriots is not that they win viciously and consistently, which is of course their job, but that they throw off so little warmth, that they make transcendent success look so bleak and blighted. Disciplined unto savagery, self-starved into brutality, running furiously on cultivated bile and strange spite, the 2007 Patriots were a machine that made war out of a game. These Patriots aren't that good, but they aren't all that different.

This is not to say that Belichick is not great at his job, or that his run in New England was anything less than a staggering achievement. His team's schemes are somehow both protean and microscopically specific, and executed with a grimly dazzling virtuosity; Belichick the coach gets astonishing value from his players, and Belichick the executive is unsentimental about replacing them just before that value is exhausted. But for all that success, Belichick himself looked something more than miserable when he took the podium in the media room after that blowout win.

He barely articulated clock-killing answers to questions that reporters fed him with the usual caveats built in—"Coach, we know there's always room for improvement, but can you talk to us about…"—and barely raised his eyes from the podium. His signature tattered, too-big sweatshirt, sleeves destroyed and rolling back where he cut them off at mid-forearm, looked less like the monastic fashion statement it appears on television, and more simply ragged; Belichick looked lost in it. Shrunken in his greatness and unwilling to admit victory, the greatest coach of his era looked terribly small up close.

Share |


This is what we call soothing and The blog is like a portal of tour stockholm

The blog is composed in basic English with no yearning towards writing.brian holm lawyer san diego

Superlative style of composing that each new blogger tries to have.

The essayist, through this blog, has earned regard from numerous for all the correct sienna car cover

"Boredom is a killer—which is why a cure for boredom can be a lifesaver.

The truth is, portable Bluetooth speakers have been the handheld solution to elevate the moment, whether at the beach, the middle of a party, or a lazy afternoon at home for years now—and your brand can get in on that excitement.

Right now—with, you can put you logo on a wide array of Promotional Bluetooth Speakers, in all different shapes and sizes, from waterproof to resilient wood—with models coming in at 6-7 dollars all the way up to high-end luxury designs. Multiple surfaces on almost every customized Bluetooth speaker can showcase your logo—so no matter which way it’s turned, your name is always center staged." Bluetooth Speaker Promotional Item

I respect this article for the all around looked into substance and magnificent wording. I got so included in this material that I couldn't quit perusing. I am awed with your work and expertise. Much thanks to you to such an extent. online clothing outlet stores

Thank you for helping people get the information they need. Great stuff as usual. Keep up the great work!!! baia-eho

I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing. yamaha golf cart enclosure

it was a wonderful chance to visit this kind of site and I am happy to know. thank you so much for giving us a chance to have this opportunity.. Slide Stoppers

Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I'm happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post. ID Scanner System

I read that Post and got it fine and enlightening. assisted living placement in northern va

This is an awesome rousing article.I am practically satisfied with your great work.You put truly exceptionally supportive data. Keep it up. Continue blogging. Hoping to perusing your next post. Long Island Face Painters

Much obliged to you for exceptionally usefull data.. eco-travel

telling the aforementioned happy drunks not to go certain places, prying less-happy drunks off those miles of hurricane fence or each other, and so on late into the night, win or lose.minecraft download free mac |
buy psn cards online

I as of late ran over your online journal and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't comprehend what to say with the exception of that I have appreciated perusing. Pleasant site, I will continue going by this online journal all the time. escorts in beirut

Goodness, cool post. I'd like to compose like this as well – requiring significant investment and genuine diligent work to make an incredible article… yet I put things off an excessive amount of and never appear to begin. Much obliged however. escort in beirut

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. fitness pr

Bury all that, and concentration on one object, the diplomatist you get a fastening from is somewhat kindred to your computer. Yes, followed course are advisable, but not every seek engine cares if they are followed or not! seo packages

This is truly a decent and useful, containing all data furthermore greatly affects the new innovation. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing it orange county sql training class

this is truly pleasant to read..informative post is great to read..thanks a considerable measure! pr agencies

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. iphone 6 plus/6s plus black armor case

Your online journal gave us profitable data to work with. Each and every tips of your post are marvelous. Much appreciated for sharing. Continue blogging, escort beirut

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. iphone 6 plus/6s plus cases

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. canvas grocery bags

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I adore seeing blog that comprehend the benefit of giving a quality asset to free. escort beirut

I read this article. I think You put a lot of effort to create this article. I appreciate your work. Dofollow Blog Comments

Canada Goose Kensington Giubbotto Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: Canada Goose Kensington Giubbotto Roma Canada Goose Kensington Giubbotto Italia

I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for us. Citrus Mcallen texas

Very classic blogs I’ve never seen to any site.

I am truly keen of reading posts on the attention-grabbing topics n now I'm on the most effective place.

Interestingly you write, I will address you'll find exciting and interesting things on similar topics. technology

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. 100% Manually, So your site is safe you can get all HQ links, that definitely increase your SERPs. 20 High Quality Backlinks gig Only for fiverr members just for 5$ WOww...high trust flow backlinks

I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.lancer car covers

Awesome things you've generally imparted to us. Simply continue composition this sort of posts.The time which was squandered in going for educational cost now it can be utilized for studies.Thanks web site

I will again come to visit your website that’s so awesome and precious that I couldn’t stop myself commenting on this.

I had been trying for the good information and having come to your blog I have found everything which I wanted.
type my essay

I conclude I have selected the smart and inconceivable website along with interesting stuff.
Chris Walker - best SEO Denver

For true fans of this thread I will address is a free online! buy twitter followers $1

It is very good, but look at the information at this address. National Days

I have in fact found a great and unique content just here on this website. Excellent working!!
gold IRA company

I have in fact found a great and unique content just here on this website. Excellent working!!
gold IRA company

Superb represented data. I thank you about that. Probably it will be exceptionally helpful for my future ventures. Might want to see some different posts on the same subject! messebau düsseldorf

This is one of the most wonderful blog, this is work is tremendous. Thanks
Chris Walker - best SEO firm

I invite you to the page where see how much we have in common. Cheap ssl certificates

Very interesting! This work is really satisfactory for us. Thanks
IT-Solutions Canada

It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. iPV 8

I would be supportive on all your articles and blogs as a result of they are simply up to the mark.
rent roll off dumpsters philadelphia

Awesome dispatch! I am indeed getting apt to over this info, is truly neighborly my buddy. Likewise fantastic blog here among many of the costly info you acquire. Reserve up the beneficial process you are doing here. SARMS

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. cerrajeros madrid centro

But there was a mission to accomplish, and in the Marine Corps, nothing comes before the covers