If you've listened to my radio show over the years, you know that my absolute favorite sport period is tennis.
I had a weird feeling while watching the New England Patriots win the AFC championship game Jan. 20 and participating in the lament of Baltimore sports fans on social media that the dreaded Patriots would again be Super Bowl bound.
In tennis, the legends of the sport are treated with the greatest reverence. If you've watched any of the Australian Open, you've noticed that when Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Serena or Venus Williams take the court, the crowd erupts in a show of great deference. Those figures are beloved, and while fans enjoy the occasional upset, they vastly prefer to continue to see these icons of the sport make deep runs and play longer into the tournament.
So as we all prepare to spend a fortnight trying to see past ideological differences by coming together in a united spirit of hating Tom Brady, I'm sort of forced to ask: Should we perhaps be showing the legend of the game a little more respect? Should we be more excited by an opportunity to watch an historic performer perform at their highest level? Should we be as receptive toward Brady as we are Federer? Is our child-like rage toward one of the most accomplished athletes of all time perhaps just a bit low rent?
The answer to that last question is obvious. Yes. Of course it is. It's incredibly low rent. It's almost comical. We're really embarrassing ourselves.
Oh, but the answer to those other questions? No. No, not at all. We should continue to own this. We're petty. And that's OK. In fact, I'm happy to be petty. I'm so petty that you might as well call me Richard because I'm "the king."
Honestly, it's sort of silly for Baltimore fans to get this worked up about the Patriots. The Ravens and Patriots haven't played a playoff game against each other in four years. The Ravens' roster of the present and future will feature almost none of the fixtures of the past significant games played between the franchises.
Lamar Jackson, Gus Edwards, Mark Andrews, Ronnie Stanley, Orlando Brown Jr., Michael Pierce and Marlon Humphrey have never played a playoff game against the Patriots. A number of them haven't even played in a regular-season game against the Patriots since the teams haven't met since 2016.
But we all know this isn't really about the history between the Ravens and Patriots. No, our disdain for the Pats is far bigger than that and not even regionally unique. Our feelings are not dissimilar to the feelings of fans in Kansas City. Or Cincinnati. Or Detroit. Or Boise, Idaho.
It's like how a Maryland fan roots against Duke only for (an obviously bandwagon) Duke fan to say "you're not even in the conference anymore" because they somehow don't understand that the hatred isn't unique to Maryland fans. It's a rallying cry shared by all Americans in a time when so little can actually bring us together. We hate Duke. And we hate the Patriots. We're sick of it.
We're sick of seeing the same team over and over. We're probably a little jealous. But we're also sick of things somehow always seeming to work out for any single team. We're sick of the AFC East being garbage and giving the Patriots a massive break to help them make deep runs. We're sick of having to defend that totally relevant fact when someone claims we're just a "hate-urr." We're sick of somehow the Patriots winning the coin toss in overtime in the only sport that thinks a flipping coin toss should play a massive role in determining a winner if one can't be determined in regulation.
We're sick of Brady getting calls (like the phantom roughing the passer in the second half of the Chiefs game). We're sick of Brady asking for calls. We're just sick of Brady.
We're sick of Boston sports. We're sick of the Bostonians we've known that are far too willing to play to the "Mass-hole" stereotype. We're sick of Boston. How many goddamn movies are going to be made about stupid Boston?
We're sick of Bill Belichick. We're sick of watching our own stupid coaches see Belichick win time and time again and never actually learning anything from it. Seriously, how are you still so friggin' terrible at in-game situations when you watch him methodically figure out ways to neutralize offensive weapons and STILL know how to manage a clock?
We're sick of Robert Kraft. We don't even know anything about Robert Kraft to be sick of. We're sick of Jon Bon Jovi pretending to be a Patriots fan despite claiming New Jersey his entire life. What the hell even is that? If anyone cared about Bon Jovi in 2019, we'd make Drake memes about it.
We're sick of wondering how any of the last two decades might have been different if not for PSI and filming practices and tuck rules and destroyed cell phones and lord knows whatever else could have gone on. It could have meant nothing. It could have meant a ton. We're sick of being told it's irrelevant by the folks who stand to gain the most if it isn't.
We're just sick of it. And we have every right to be. What's the point of being a sports fan if we're not going to be wildly emotional and unreasonable sometimes?
No one can debate the greatness of Brady or Belichick. It's absolutely unbelievable that they've somehow managed to do this all over again. But that doesn't mean we should enjoy watching it.
And with the Rams' roster littered with local kids (cornerback Blake Countess, running back Todd Gurley, offensive lineman Rob Havenstein, linebacker Micah Kiser), we can spend the next two weeks being excited for them AND hating the Patriots too.
Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox