In the NFL, fans hate the New England Patriots the most. They constantly win games, and this is why many opposing fans say they resort to cheating. How can a team consistently win games year after year? Well, Bill Belichick has created a system which has allowed for unheard players to step up and thrive. Dear Patriots haters, do you guys really know who you are hating?
Addressing the Eagles “underdog” description going into Super Bowl 52, Patriots linebacker, Kyle Van Noy, said, “We’re underdogs too. If you look across the board, this team is built on underdogs”. Thirty-four percent of their team went undrafted. Overlooked and ignored players fill this Patriot roster. Biggest examples of this are sixth-rounder Tom Brady, who had six quarterbacks picked before him in the 2000 draft and undrafted wide receiver Danny Amendola, who bounced around to three teams before finding a comfortable home in New England. Both of these players proved themselves when the team needed them and has been reliable starters ever since.
The Defensive Hero
Van Noy had his own second chance underdog story. He came into the league a promising prospect coming out of a stellar season at BYU. Expected to be a three-down linebacker, the Lions drafted Van Noy in the second round. However, a hernia sidelined him for half his rookie season, and he wasn’t the same after that. Considered a liability on the field, the Lions traded for a late-round draft pick to the Patriots.
In New England, he’s become one of the most versatile players on the team. The difference is the coaching according to Van Noy, who felt that it was what held him back in Detroit. After Rob Ninkovich had retired and Dont’a Hightower went down with a pectoral injury, Van Noy flourished as his role grew. He finished the 2017 regular season campaign with 73 tackles and 5 ½ sacks in just 12 games. It seems that Matt Patricia had rekindled the BYU college star by giving him a chance to succeed when the team that drafted him wouldn’t.
The Breakout Star
Another story is that of Dion Lewis. The Philadephia Eagles drafted Lewis in the fifth round in 2011 where he was buried on the depth chart. When asked about what he remembers in his time in Philadelphia, he said, “Not playing”. The Eagles traded him to Cleveland where he missed the 2013 season with a fractured fibula and eventually cut.
The Patriots signed him in 2015 where he was stellar in the first seven games before tearing his ACL. “We had a feeling there was something there and we let it play out”, Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears said. Fears had compared him to Kevin Faulk, another undersized running back who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. Lewis is arguably the most dynamic player on the Patriots offense right now. Watching Lewis play, one can see him always pushing himself and fighting for every inch. With injuries to other running backs, the organization relied on Lewis to be the workhorse for the second half of the season. He used his increased touches to total career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns. A running back who hadn’t played in two years ran with an opportunity given by the Patriots all the way to his second Super Bowl.
A Final Message
Thus, Patriots haters, it is understandable that you guys don’t like a team whose won all these games. However, the underdog trait truly defines these players. The coaching staff preaches hard work and expect greatness. The leadership of the organization gives players a sense of success, pride, and family. It doesn’t matter what round they were drafted or how they did in college, but the amount of work they put in to excel their game on and off. Haters, you are really hating the athletes that people belittled and put down. The athletes who got back up, stronger than ever, and found a home where they can strive. The athletes with the best work ethic that fights to get what they want. In New England, these athletes live by a simple mantra …”Do Your Job”.