By Jeff Solari
Sunday in Foxboro the Patriots franchise and fans celebrated the 15th anniversary of the team’s first Super Bowl victory.
I bet you still remember the 2001 post season highlights: Raiders in town. Tuck rule. Two amazing kicks in the ice and snow in the old Foxboro cement bowl for the win. On to the Steel City. Brady gets hurt. Bledsoe comes in. Defense is stellar, Troy Brown returning kicks and the team is bound for New Orleans to face the Greatest Show on Turf.
Super Bowl XXXVI sees the Rams as 14 point favorites. Paul McCartney performs pregame. U2 at half time. The Pats blow a comfortable lead but wisely go against the advice of John Madden and drive up the field as time winds down. Another game winning kick results in a most unexpected Super Bowl championship.
I was lucky enough to see it in person.
During my time in New Orleans, I met dozens of faithful Rams fans. They outnumbered Patriots fans easily 5 to 1, as they were on top of the world and looking for their second Super Bowl win in three years.
At the game I was seemingly surrounded by Rams fans. They were Midwestern friendly in the ramp up to game day. We talked a great deal and they were very self-assured that the Lombardi trophy would once again be drenched in beer made by Anheuser Busch.
Instead it was Sam Adams and New England clam chowder. Not only did Patriot Nation get the last laugh that day, consider the fate of the franchises over the next decade and a half.
For the Pats, they are 181-55 and have never had a losing season since that game. Amazingly, just once have they failed to reach double digit wins. No team in the league has more regular season, playoff, or Super Bowl wins. In fact they have made the playoffs every season except two, and one of those times they were still 11-5. (Blame Matt Cassel, Tom Brady would have gone to the playoffs if he was 11-5.)
Meanwhile it has been so god awful for the Rams, I often wonder if those once proud mega fans even still cheer for the team?
The Rams have managed a meager 87 wins since 2001 and have only made the playoffs twice, and have only one postseason win. In fact, they have only finished above .500 once since that title winning Vinatieri kick! They have had 6 head coaches in those 15 years, including the current bozo, Jeff Fisher who doesn’t win but somehow can’t be fired.
Now they are gone from Missouri all together leaving folk in St. Louis with the Blues, literally and figuratively.
None of us carousing on Bourbon Street before that game 15 years ago would have predicted for either franchise any of what I have written. We would have scoffed at mid-level draft pick Tom Brady becoming the winningest QB of all time, who once threw 50 TDs in one season. We could not have imagined the team’s success in beautiful new Gillette Stadium that had yet to open. Or we’d laugh at the idea of a “Gronk” dominating on the field and singing with David Ortiz off of it.
What an unbelievable 15 years for Pats fans, and frankly for Rams fans, for entirely different reasons.
Jeff Solari (@SolariJeff) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.