I freely admit that I love the New England Patriots.
Such a disclosure is not applauded by many NFL fans but especially those fans from our AFC East division rivals: The New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. Most Patriots fans hate the New York Jets. I do not know why we hate them but we do. We should respect them as I can’t think of a better symbol of perseverance than Joe Namath. We play them twice per year and take great satisfaction when their coach’s boastful claims fizzle as another disappointing season ends, out of the playoff hunt—again. We do not think much about the other teams in our division. I suppose that makes us look arrogant. And to be honest, we should respect the other teams because they have great players, great organizations who want to excel. Yet most Patriots fan will admit they are a trifle arrogant but then again, the facts don’t lie.
And what are the facts? Since 2001, the New England Patriots, under the watchful eye of Mr. Kraft and the dynamic duo of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have amassed a staggering record of accomplishments, including five Super Bowl appearances, winning three of them (and counting) and eleven AFC East division titles. We know that this dream-like ride can’t last forever yet as Patriots fans, we will gladly spout these facts to anyone who will listen. We are the dynasty team, much to the consternation of all fans who don’t love number 12.
At first glance, it’s obvious why I love the Patriots. Who wouldn’t? We win. We keep winning. Super Bowl victories aside, we’ve had thirteen consecutive winning seasons. The next closest team, the Green Bay Packers has five consecutive seasons. That’s a whopping disparity for a league that thrives on parity.
Parity means level competition and that fuels the NFL as a multi-billion dollar business. And we often read player’s tweets—especially in their last contract year—lamenting that the NFL is a business. It’s not a game. It’s a business.
The fact is that the New England Patriots are the most successful business in a very successful business sector. There have been many articles written on the Patriot’s Way, written by industry experts. I do not personally know Mr. Kraft, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady so I have no insights into the reasons for their mutual success but I think I just gave you three big reasons why.
Recently I wrote a business thriller called Startup. The antagonist Allen Henley is a ruthless, arrogant, win-at-all-costs business leader. Most readers are appalled by his actions—but love him. His behavior makes for a delicious plot. Winners are driven by the overpowering, unrelenting desire to get better, to work harder, to prepare more diligently and this drive to succeed makes them search for every angle, every option to win.
In trying to understand the reasons behind the success of the Patriots, beyond the obvious reasons, the intangible aspect, the kind that can be copied but not completely, is the real magic behind the success of the Patriots. People make businesses thrive. Can it be as simple as New England’s three patriarchs just want to win more than anyone else? Each gifted in their own special way and they complement each other as they pursue a common goal. We may never see such an eclectic group again comprised of a highly-respected owner, a detailed-oriented coach and a driven gifted quarterback.
Many years from now, when we look fondly back at the New England Patriots, we will smile and remember that for a certain period of time, the New England Patriots were the best team in the NFL and maybe in sports. Ever.