Tom Brady joined Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Bret Favre as the only QBs in NFL history with 400 or more TD passes. (Illustration: Steve Hill) Three games into what might have been a four-game suspension, were it not for a judge in New York, Tom Brady seems determined to make the league pay for the Deflategate fiasco. It's been eight years since Brady, at age 30, blasted through the NFL record book to become the first quarterback with 50 touchdown passes in a season. At age 38, coming off a spring and summer of court appearances and embarrassing -- and ultimately, still unproven -- accusations by Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady is wrecking dudes. A 51-17 victory Sunday against the Jaguars was no surprise, actually. As long as tight end Rob Gronkowski is upright, and as long as Brady's right arm stays limber, New England will post big, big offensive numbers against lesser opponents like Jacksonville. What is mildly surprising is that Brady has not been merely good, or even very good. Or even great. He has been just about perfect. Through three games, he has nine touchdown passes, a 72.2 completion percentage and 1,112 passing yards. Oh, and ZERO interceptions. And by the way, even as he tears through yet another early season, he's smashing all-time milestones. How's 400 touchdown passes? Not bad, especially when you consider his elite company: Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning. Now, he and the Patriots take a little breather with an early bye week before heading out for back-to-back road games against the Romo-less Cowboys and scuffling Colts. Frankly, the game we're waiting for is Nov. 29, Pats at Broncos, Tom at Peyton. That looks to be the only potential loss on New England's schedule, except for one detail: Brady is 11-5 lifetime against Peyton. We're looking at history here, folks. The Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls on, and there seems to be very little the league can do to stop it.
[caption id="attachment_853" align="alignright" width="300"] You actually can't win an argument against a Patriots fan, because they no longer have a firm grasp on reality.[/caption] (Note: This is part of a recurring series that launched with the Yankees last week. This week, it's New England's turn in the Smack Zone. We still love you, Pats fans!) First, let's be clear: There is no way to win an argument with a New England Patriots fan. The arrogance runs too deep. True minions of Brady and Belichick no longer are capable of humility or rational thought -- of any kind. They are as intractable as a field of volcanic rock, as aloof and unapproachable as an Apple store employee five minutes away from a smoke break. Patriots fans simply can't be wrong. For evidence of their innate superiority, they unveil four compelling exhibits: Super Bowl XXXVI. Super Bowl XXXVIII. Super Bowl XXXIX. Super Bowl XLIX. OK. Championship caliber franchise. Got it. No one is saying New England hasn't gotten extremely proficient over the years at acquiring hardware. [caption id="attachment_1038" align="alignleft" width="300"] Played memes are played, but sometimes the only way to get through to myopic Patriots fans is to say it as slowly and simply as possible. Small words, y'all.[/caption] Yet, their very success reveals their weakness. How? Two main things to remember when attempting to take a Patriots fan down a notch. One: They cheated. Two: Their fans respond to success with all the grace of a pack of hyenas, bellowing with frustration that the world is against them. By the way: They're right about that. The world IS against them. There's a history here, of course. Patriots fans are what Red Sox fans become during the long, cold New England winters. Take all those years of Fenway bitterness, add an unhealthy dose of sub-freezing and ice-encased fury, toss in years of obviously tainted victory and voila: Patriots fan. All right. We've established that they are insufferable and deluded. They don't care what you think. Still, even the most rabid Patriots fan has no comeback for these two bits of unassailable history: One: The Patriots are Eli Manning's Super Bowl squeak toy. Two: Aaron Hernandez murdered a dude while he was an active, productive and well-loved member of the New England Patriots family. To expound a bit on Eli: If the younger Manning brother ever joins brother Peyton in the hallowed halls of Canton one day, it will be as a direct result of his and the Giants' mastery of the Patriots in not one, but two Super Bowls. Without the Patriots, Eli Manning would be in the career neighborhood of Dave Krieg and (hey!) Drew Bledsoe. Good QBs in their day, but hardly Canton fodder. Thanks to the Patriots, Eli is a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame. (Yes, we're aware that you have to get to the Super Bowl to lose in the Super Bowl, but Patriots fans are the first to define themselves in terms of championships. Runner-up is FIRST LOSER.) As for Hernandez ... well, to their credit, even though they knew Hernandez had issues, at least the Patriots didn't wait until he had been convicted before cutting ties. And owner Robert Kraft testified for the prosecution in Hernandez's trial. That said, YOUR TIGHT END MURDERED A DUDE IN COLD BLOOD. A guy Patriots fans cheered with all their collective heart on Sundays turned out to be a stone, cold killer. How's that taste, Pats fan? (Editors note: They still don't care.) Then there are the Twin Gates: Spy- and Deflate-. Look, we're not going to rehash those infamous instances of cheating here. Besides, Patriots fans are so deep in denial that many of them won't even acknowledge the wrongdoing by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those who do acknowledge it are sitting in their easy chairs with their fingers in their ears saying, "LA LA LA LA LA LA! I can't hear you! LA LA LA LA LA LA! Brady is God! LA LA LA LA! Not listening! Not listening!" Sigh. OK. At this point, there is no shame in admitting defeat. Those four Super Bowl rings are tough to argue against -- legit or not. Winning an argument against a New England Patriots fan must be accomplished in small increments. As they bellow about Brady and Goodell and the God-awful Wells report; as they name their children after Tom Brady and their Great Danes after Gronk; as they wallow in their us-against-the-world self pity, go exercise a form of civil disobedience by sharing something funny from the Twitter account for Tom Brady's Ego. It's a parody account, but humor often reveals truth. And the truth is, perhaps the best way to win an argument with a New England Patriots fan is to ignore him. Case closed. Next week: How to win an argument with a Green Bay Packers fan.
[caption id="attachment_953" align="aligncenter" width="474"] The season is finally upon us. Tom Brady is free, but the witch hunt continues. And that's just fine with Patriots fans, says the author.[/caption] By Mackie, Smack Zone contributor Just a few days after Tom Brady’s suspension was overturned and sports fans nationwide returned to their cubicles following Labor Day weekend, Patriots fans looked to have won the battle against the NFL and the media. … Until shortly after, stories dropped from ESPN and Sports Illustrated with many anonymous sources claiming Spygate was much more elaborate than it was portrayed to be nearly eight years ago, and that it went much further than the illegal video recording of opponents’ play calls in about 40 games. The accusations included claims that since 2000, the Patriots had been cheating in ways that included going into visiting team hotel rooms to rummage through trash cans and sneaking into opponent locker rooms to steal play sheets in hopes of finding anything that would give them an extra edge. The ESPN article also claims that low-level Patriots employees would go into opponent locker rooms and steal game plan play sheets, and that the organization even went as far as to bug opponent locker rooms and/or coach’s boxes. Am I a Patriots fan? Yes. Am I saying that we’ve never done anything wrong and that the Patriots didn’t ever cheat? No, we got caught and we have paid the price after Spygate, from the league and publicly. Is Tom Brady guilty of “being generally aware or having an elaborate scheme” of deflating footballs before the AFC Championship game? Honestly, none of us can say for sure. But what I do know is this: The New England Patriots have already been labeled as cheaters by football fans worldwide since the Spygate scandal dropped in 2007. With the Deflategate controversy, the Patriots are still labeled as cheaters, regardless of the ruling. It’s safe to say this label won’t be changed in the minds of football fans anytime soon. I’m sure you’ve either said or heard statements such as “The Patriots are a bunch of cheaters, that’s why they win all the time, that’s why they beat us.” But how long do you want to beat that dead horse? It is dead. Stop beating the horse. Yes, the Patriots were caught and punished for recording the signals of opponents 8 years ago illegally on the sidelines, rather than the regularly practiced and legal recording of signals from the Press Box. They were punished for it eight years ago, and all the damage has already been done. Do we really want to reopen that wound by tossing anonymous accusations out from something that might or might not have happened anywhere from eight to 15 years ago? But then, if the movies have taught us anything, it’s that people don’t forget (NSFW, language): [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9tcA_AM4BE] Tomorrow night marks the beginning of the NFL regular season. It’s a shame that around the country, the main headline and topic of conversation isn’t about who the favorite team is to win the Super Bowl or each division, or how good everyone’s fantasy football team is looking. News media and fans around the country aren’t even focused on the fact that FOOTBALL IS FINALLY HERE or excited to see some football TOMORROW NIGHT. The funniest part of all this to me is that regardless of whether what the Patriots did was illegal or just frowned upon, whether they are considered cheaters or not cheaters, they were winning a mental game against the rest of the league by a longshot, while being able to concentrate on preparing for the game itself. Essentially, the other teams were so focused on the possibility and perception that the Patriots are cheaters that they were warped with paranoia that every time they faced off against the Patriots, New England would cheat in some way. It's a nationwide phenomenon, evidently: [caption id="attachment_954" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Source: ESPN Sportsnation.[/caption] Commissioner Goodell and the rest of the NFL now have the Patriots on a tight leash, and it’s safe to say their every movement will be watched from here on out. Still want to call them cheaters and use that as an excuse for their success in the future? Fine, I encourage that. You want to know why? Because it’s what fuels a Patriots fan's passion: dedication and loyalty to our team. We Patriots fans are willing to put it all out there and fight to the figurative death. Our beloved sports teams have been the heart and pride of New England for as long as I have been alive and for many decades before that, back to when Red Auerbach led the Celtics to several championships, and even long before that. We aren’t about to abandon this great tradition, regardless of what people who aren’t us think about how our teams do what they do. (Which is, by the way, win. A lot. Deal with it.) So please, keep on calling us cheaters. When it comes down to it, all it does is make us look forward to kicking your team’s ass that much more! Mackie is a lifelong New England sports fan from down the Cape.