Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

On Dynasties

Most of the people in my life that I know are from New York, especially Long Island and the New York City region. This was made all the more clear last night, when my Facebook feed erupted in gloating after the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots in last night’s AFC title game. No seventh trip to the Super Bowl for coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and the rest of the Pats. No fifth Super Bowl title for the hated team from New England. My friends who are Jets fans were joined by a lot of others from all across the country in gleefully waving

to New England.

Of course, this also leads to predictions of New England’s demise. Tom Brady is 38, ancient for a quarterback. Coach Bill Belichick can’t do this forever. And in the modern world of sports, there’s no way they can hold this winning team together for much longer, right? Jets fans (and, seemingly, everyone else) are salivating over a season of mediocrity from New England, or even something as bad as Belichick’s first season in New England, when the Patriots went five and eleven. Everyone would like to see New England plunged back into the dark ages, maybe into a run as desperately bad as the Detroit Lions of 2008 (winless) or the Columbia University football squad (forty-four consecutive losses). That would be sweet revenge, right?

Maybe not.

Though the Patriots can no longer quite be considered a true dynasty team in the sense of what the word means (multiple consecutive championships, like the New York Yankees who won five straight World Series titles, the Montreal Canadiens, who won five straight Stanley Cups and appeared in an astounding ten consecutive Stanley Cup finals, or the Boston Celtics and their eight straight NBA championships) their consistent winning record is the closest thing we have in sports right now. The changes that have occurred in modern sports–salary caps, free agency, endless expansion, of leagues and playoffs–have all but knocked off the true dynasties, and that’s too bad, in my opinion.

The people who run the sports leagues want parity, and there’s something to be said for it. As a fan, it’s nice to look at your team and your favorite sports league at the beginning of a season and think, “We’ve got a shot.” It’s also nice to know that rebuilding your team to contender status doesn’t have to take a generation. Playoff races are more intense and upsets in the playoffs are more likely–hooray for parity! Yet, I feel like we’re losing something at the same time.

Dynasties give us someone to hate. They also give us someone to look up to, to grudgingly admire. Dynasty teams tend to bring out the best in their opponents, even if they end up making them look silly. They serve as motivation and provide a template for other general managers. And if we’re lucky, and our general manager is any good, we fans have hope that, some day, our team will be the one sitting on the throne and running off championship after championship.

We don’t know if the Patriots are done. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. But I think that, when they are finally gone (as all dynasties must eventually fall), some of those Jets fans will one day look back and say (grudgingly), “Yeah, that was one hell of a football team.”

Have a great week, everyone.

9 Responses

  1. OMG, you should have seen me screaming for the Broncos yesterday. I was a wreck, but was very happy by the end of the day. And, yeah, we HATE the Patriots here in Colorado too. Probably because they have been so good for so long. It is sad in a way, though, to see such consistently great quarterbacks as Brady and Manning come to the end of their careers.

  2. I am not into sports but your post had me really thinking. It seems today that anything of age or prestige gets made into a joke. Which is kind of sad. I get that we want to live in the present and look to the future. But the past should not be thrown aside in the process.

  3. Dynasties are tougher to build these days with all the rules and regs and trades. When I was growing up people stayed with teams longer and I think that helped build the dynasties. No, it seems like people switch teams all the time.

  4. I don't care how good the team is, whether they're a dynasty or not, if I hate them, I will never say they were a good team. NEVER. But then I'm one of those crazy fans who hold grudges FOREVER. 🙂

  5. -LG–Yeah, America HATES a winner, but we'll miss them when they're gone! Enjoy the Super Bowl!
    -Sheena-kay–That's an interesting thought on the matter, and one I hadn't considered. Thanks!
    -Jemi–Free agency is a blessing and a curse. In the days of the reserve clause, players were stuck with the same team, even when they're contracts were up. Now, at least, they have more options.
    -Stacy–You're a tough one! Can you at least respect them?

  6. (Dang it! Third time lucky…) Boy, did I get the wrong end of that stick: I saw your title "Dynasty", there were big shoulder pads involved, so I naturally thought you'd be blogging about the 80's and the Carrington clan! (Is it at all showing that I know nothing about football?) 🙂

  7. -Dan–
    -Dan–Hah, I thought maybe you were trying to prove a point in some strange way! Actually, plenty of big shoulder pads involved, but not the kind you're talking about! I remember 'Dynasty.' Never watched it, but I remember it!

  8. I'm from New England too. Born in Boston, childhood in Harvard, went to school in Worcester and Bridgeport (CT) before moving to NYC (with a stop for my teen years in Indiana) – and I despise the Patriots. Whereas Peyton & Tony Dungy were the epitome of hard work, humility, and good sportsmanship on and off the field, Brady (with his glitterati lifestyle and smug smile) and Belichick (twin of The Emperor from Star Wars, I swear! Look at the pictures! lol) prove that winning isn't everything – it's the only thing, by any means necessary. Not the type of people anyone should look up to.

    Dynasty-wise, it gets boring. Here there are about 30 soccer teams and 2 win all the time. It's like Spain and their constant Real Madrid vs Barcelona thing. Jeez – let some other teams have a chance, why don'tcha?

  9. -Lexa–I don't know that Brady is doing anything different from, say, "Broadway Joe" Namath, who made (bad) movies, was on TV all the time, and walked around in a floor-length fur coat (and is still hitting on sideline reporters). But he does have a certain look to him, I'll allow it. And your point on winning at any cost raises some interesting questions that maybe I'll tackle some other time.

    As to the "let someone else have a chance," I would rather see teams behave like the Patriots, loading up to win every year, than teams that tank it for a better draft pick, even if you could argue that it's (tanking, that is) in the long-term best interests of the team. Thanks, as always!

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