Don't worry. I know the answer is yes.
It's a unique feeling to know that your loss is everyone else's happiness, but I know no one cares. And I know I've done the same when it's come to other teams I've disliked, so I can't say much when the tables are turned.
In fact, I also know that most people coming over to this blog aren't even going to read this post, much less take it seriously. Most of you are probably here merely to vent your vindicated anti-Patriots spleen in the comments thread, and hey, more power to you.
But here's another question, for anyone still reading: can we stop now? With the sour grapes? And SpyGate? And searching, hunting, digging for ways to prove the Patriots' run over these last few years has been unfair in any way? Can we stop trotting out the pathetic former Eagles players who want to tell us it was the Patriots' videotapes, and not their puking quarterback, that cost them the Super Bowl three years ago? Can we stop with the Congressional inquests, the unnamed sources, the obnoxious asterisks? Can we stop looking for ways to denigrate what the Patriots accomplished in the regular season?
Suddenly, at 18-1, with as many postseason defeats as victories over the last seven years, the Patriots' "dynasty" doesn't look so impressive. So maybe we can stop with the envy, and the asinine things it has been making people say?
Because now we see: the Patriots can be beaten. Actually, the Patriots have been beaten the last three years in a row: once in the divisional playoff against the Broncos; once in the AFC playoff against the Colts, and once again tonight in the Super Bowl against the Giants.
So let me ask this: if the Patriots were truly a bunch of cheaters, if Bill Belichick's video tapes were what won games and not just the determined, dedicated effort of a very good football team, why would they have been beaten when it mattered most the last three years in a row?
The fact of the matter is that the Giants were successful this time around with getting relentless pressure on Brady. They sacked him four times in the first half alone, and knocked him down 10 times just after he released the ball. They played a tough, intense, physical and determined game. They figured out the right strategy, and they followed through with it against the Patriots for 60 minutes. And they won. Simple as that.
If we're to believe the Patriots are inveterate cheaters, that all their past accomplishments have been built on dishonesty and unfair advantage, why would they have picked tonight to stop? If there was ever a time to break out the videotapes, the top-secret signals, the spies and moles on the opposing sideline, it was in the fourth quarter of XLII.
And yet, here we are.
Slowly, the Giants ground down the Patriots--they did what no other team has done yet this season, and lasted with them through 60 minutes. Their defense was a match for a high-flying offense. I'm sure if I were to suggest, as a Patriots fan, that the Giants cheated, it would be dismissed as sour grapes.
So why isn't it identified as such when it comes from every other fan base in the league when the Patriots were winning? Why hasn't the inherent ugliness of casting about to find ways to discount a team's accomplishments been acknowledged in that case? Is it because this time the sour grapes have been shared by a majority?
Now, in a way, there's a silver lining to the Patriots' defeat: the haters find themselves in a difficult position. Doesn't it take away from the Giants' victory, if the Patriots have been built on sand the whole time? Is it truly the greatest accomplishment in the history of football to knock off the Patriots if the Patriots have never been that good in the first place?
So pick one. If you believe the Patriots are cheaters, then this victory must not have been that big a deal--just the inevitable exposure of a team without a legal means of sustaining its dominance. If you believe the Giants have just pulled off the greatest accomplishment in NFL history, then you must believe they did it entirely above-board.
If you ask me, I believe that the Patriots have been genuine, and I believe the Giants are genuine. They won a hard-fought game and put together quite possibly the most miraculous run of any team in postseason history. Give them credit, and give the Patriots credit, too; today, you can call them losers, but let's stop calling the Patriots cheaters.