By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)
BOSTON (CBS) -- As a 29-year-old Patriots fan, I am too young to remember the days of Rod Rust, television blackouts, and weekly ineptitude that made New England the laughingstock of the NFL. There's no question that I, along with the entire new generation of Pats fans, have been spoiled by their incredible run of sustained success for at least half of most of our lifetimes. When your team is missing its top two offensive weapons and arguably its best defensive player and you still expect to win handily, you know your team is on a pretty good run.
But sometimes, the entitlement of Patriots fans can be embarrassing, and it manifested itself Sunday evening against the Philadelphia Eagles. After a blocked punt gave the Eagles their first of three non-offensive touchdowns and tied the game at 14 at halftime, many fans rained an ugly, insufferable chorus of boos down on Gillette Stadium. Others left the game early in the fourth quarter after the Patriots went down 21 points. And in the process, they embarrassed Patriots Nation as a whole.
I get it, not everyone's life revolves around the Patriots. Many fans may have legitimate reasons for having to beat the traffic or be out of the game at a certain time. But if you got up and left the game solely out of disgust for the Patriots being down three touchdowns, you don't deserve to root for this team. It's become kind of a cliche to say "Try being a Browns fan," but it rings true here.
The Patriots are arguably the most resilient team in the league and Tom Brady has led countless come-from-behind wins - and he almost engineered yet another one yesterday. If you have no good reason to leave the game early, you see that game through to the end. Otherwise, you're stealing a seat away from a fan who really cares.
And as for the booing...I get that too. The Patriots played a bad game with some ghastly mistakes, haven't been at their best in recent weeks, and there are few other ways to express your disgust. But they're also dealing with several major injuries to high-end talent and weren't even having that bad of a first half up until the blocked punt. Oh, and the game was tied! It was just absurd and embarrassing to real fans who haven't been spoiled rotten.
"I paid a lot of money for this, it's my right to boo!" I would never say you have no right to boo, do whatever you want. But I also have the right to say you're ungrateful and entitled and don't deserve to root for the Patriots. Fans in Cleveland, Jacksonville, and yes even Philadelphia, pay a lot of money to watch their teams fail year after year. And I don't think even they would boo a tie game.
Yesterday's behavior by that segment of Patriots fans showed why everyone outside of New England hates the Patriots. Even those who admit how great this team has been under Brady & Belichick would say they still despise the fans, and yesterday only proved their point. This team has built up way too much credit to get booed at halftime of a tie game, let alone booed at all.
Yes, I agree that the Patriots played (and coached) a poor game on Sunday. I agree that in some ways they handed that game to the Eagles, and in others they let the Eagles rip it away from them. I was disgusted over the loss and their effort in it, and I wouldn't tell you not to be angry about the loss.
But I also wouldn't boo them. I would keep the faith. I would continue supporting them. I refuse to disrespect this team after everything they've given New England over the past decade-plus, and anyone who is that quick to kill the team like that should try rooting for a team that actually warrants it. What would you do if you rooted for Cleveland...just an endless stream of boos for 60 minutes straight?
If you really think the Patriots deserved your boos yesterday, or you left Gillette Stadium solely out of anger at the scoreboard, you can go ahead and turn in your tickets and Patriots gear. Go root for the Browns. See what it's like to root for a team that really deserves your level of disdain. See what it's like to truly be miserable as a football fan. Because you've had it too good in the Brady & Belichick era, and don't deserve it anymore.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Read more from Matt here. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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