“It bothers me, it bothers me that y’all don’t appreciate them having a chance to win every year.”
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, a hall of fame basketball columnist who knows Barkley very well, challenged Barkley, “How do you know we don’t appreciate it?”
Barkley didn’t hesitate.
“Y’all don’t. Y’all don’t. Unfortunately, because of the Internet and [crap] like that, you all win the championship or you don’t.
“In New England, y’all have a chance to win every year. I’m impressed with the Patriots organization because they’ve lost so many people and y’all take winning for granted. Y’all do.
“Let me tell you guys something: When Bill Belichick leaves and Tom Brady leaves, y’all team is going to [expletive] suck.”
That’s something that many assume New England fans already know. Not Barkley.
“No, you all don’t know that,” he said. “You all don’t know that. You all do take it for granted. You all think, ‘We have to win the Super Bowl or the season sucks.’ You all do [take it for granted].”
I don’t blame Barkley for thinking this – it makes logical sense, and it’s almost certainly true for a subset of fans who grew up in the Brady-era – but it’s definitely not true amongst the average (probably quieter) Patriots fan.
When I was growing up, the Patriots were HORRIBLE, as a franchise, an institution, and a team. My first sports memory is being dressed up in “BERRY DA BEARS” (that’s a Raymond Berry joke, look him up kids) t-shirts by my Dad before we were eviscerated by the ‘86 Chicago Bears in one of the more pathetic Super Bowls. And it was basically downhill from there for a decade, with guys like Hugh Millen and Tommy Hodson running the show. The team almost moved to Connecticut. We had the worst stadium in America, right up there with the old Vet. It drove me to root for Dan Marino.
Then wacky, brilliant Robert Kraft bought the team and it’s basically been the complete opposite ever since. The Bledsoe/Parcells era (which was an enormous improvement) never got the job completely done, but the way the franchise looked and felt was 180 degrees from everything prior. It was a real football team.
Again, yes, kids growing up today following New England sports are almost certainly going to be incredibly entitled. But there’s too much evidence to the contrary for adult New England fans, unless they’re delusional, to somehow think our team is God’s football franchise.
And yes, the team will probably never be the same once Belichick and Brady retire. But unless the ownership situation deteriorates MASSIVELY, we’ll never be as terrible and hopeless and useless as the Patriots of my youth. If Barkley doesn’t get that, he must not know a lot about those old teams, which would make sense, because they were terrible and not worth knowing anything about.