In humor, there’s truth.
Take, for instance, this gem of a headline from The Onion on Monday:
“Sixth Super Bowl Win Continues to Elude Patriots.”
The “news” account notes how disappointed the Patriots locker room was after not winning its sixth ring Sunday.
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Of course, it’s satire. The Patriots, as anyone with a TV can tell you, are world champions for the fifth time after a comeback for the ages Sunday night.
But The Onion perfectly distills the moving goal posts in sports media, particularly when it comes to the Patriots.
So let’s take a moment to enjoy the moment before giving New England another dragon to slay:
The Patriots rate in a class all their own after Sunday night’s 34-28 thrilling win over the Falcons in overtime. No quarterback or coach has won five rings but Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
It’s historic (as whoever stole Brady’s game-worn jersey from his gym bag after the game surely knows).
Since 2001, the Patriots have been so much better than everyone else, perspective sometimes gets lost.
There have been 51 Super Bowls played now, and only the Steelers, with six, have more Lombardi Trophies than New England’s five. But Pittsburgh’s titles came over a 34-year span.
The Patriots didn’t start winning championships until 2001 — and they haven’t slowed down.
But this one was different than the rest. Those at NRG Stadium on Sunday night could feel it.
It was written all over Brady’s face when he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and later kissed his seriously ill mother Galynn.
I was evident when the always stoic Bill Belichick allowed himself to show real joy. (He was downright charming during his postgame conversation with ESPN.)
And when Patriots owner Robert Kraft all but put commissioner Roger Goodell on blast during the trophy presentation.
“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona, and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all,” Kraft said. “Bu, a lot has transpired during the last two years, and I don’t think that needs any explanation. But I want to say to our fans, our brilliant coaching staff, our amazing players, who are so spectacular, this is unequivocally the sweetest. And I’m proud to say, for the fifth time, we are all Patriots and tonight, for the fifth time, the Patriots are world champions.”
Kraft, of course, was referring to the team’s ball deflation scandal, which created a very public, very ugly schism between the league office and the NFL’s flagship franchise.
Brady and Goodell were face-to-face again Monday morning, when the commissioner presented the quarterback with his fourth Super Bowl MVP trophy.
The two men played nice, with Brady saying: “It’s an honor to be here and have the commissioner present us with this trophy.”
As for Belichick, his charm offensive lasted all of 10 hours. The famously crotchety coach was ornery once again, when he, without solicitation, felt the need to scold those who believe Brady had a little extra juice this year because of all of the external drama.
“With all due respect, I think it’s really inappropriate to suggest that in Tom’s career he’s been anything other than a great teammate, a great worker and has given us every single ounce of effort, blood sweat and tears, that he has in him,” Belichick said. “And to insinuate that this year was somehow different, that this year he competed harder or did anything to a higher degree than he ever has in the past is insulting to the tremendous effort and leadership and competitiveness that he’s shown in the 17 years that I’ve coached him.
“It’s been like that every year, every day, every practice,” Belichick continued. “I don’t care if it’s in May, August or January. Tom Brady gives us his best every time he steps onto the field.”
So if Dolphins fans wonder why they have been playing for second place in the AFC East for the better part of two decades, there’s your answer.
And here’s the addendum: Belichick, the morning after becoming the most decorated coach in NFL history, is worried that the business of winning this Super Bowl has put him behind the process of winning the next one.
“As great as today is, in all honesty, we’re five weeks behind in the 2017 season,” he said Monday.
The Onion couldn’t have put it better.