We are talking about a team that has won 14 games in a row and has managed to hold on to its humility. Can you imagine what a General Motor like Warren Sapp would do and say if he played on a team that had no losses since Sept. 28?
Most of the players have no desire to be American idols. That becomes a problem for them only when it's time for the biographies to be written. The Patriots are the most talented team in football, but they are a talented team stuck in a culture that obsesses over celebrity.
It's not enough to be talented. People want your talents to scream, shout, and do splits. The Patriots just bore you with competence and technique. So while a nation will be surprised when New England's 'no-name' offensive line controls the 'big-name' Carolina front four, the players will shrug.
They do it all the time. They have been doing it since early October. They have done it against the NFL's best teams and against both of the league's co-MVPs.
It always amazes me when I hear football fans -- and in some cases, ex-players and coaches -- who don't understand this. It's as if they want a football team to satisfy their sports and entertainment appetites. The Patriots will tell you to check out Chris Rock or 'The Lion King' for pure entertainment. For football, they are the best in the industry.
Holley, of course, made the Sportswriter's Pantheon with his fearless and accurate gameday column of how the Pats would stay ahead, and ultimately beat, the Rams in SBXXXVI. His writing is accesible to both fanboys and then general public (compare that to Shaughnessy, who writes for the mainstream but tends to bore the hardcore fans).
His argument about the Pats acknowledges what I've noted in a previous post: The Pats are efficient and competent and play great games, but lack that egomania that leads to crossover cultural appeal. Then again, Brady was at the SOTU and Vinatieri could probably run for Governor ("He'll kick ass on Beacon Hill"). Maybe competence will trump showmanship.