Imrem: Oh, to be hated like the Patriots
Reports leading up to Super Bowl LI were that the New England Patriots are the most hated team in the NFL, if not in all of sports.
Consider that paragraph in the context of Sunday's 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons that earned New England another championship.
The Patriots didn't just win it. They won it in phenomenal fashion by rallying from 25 points down.
It was eerie that when the Patriots were losing big in the third quarter and still were in the fourth quarter …
Well, the Patriots still were scary, still weren't out of the game, still looked capable of pulling off the biggest comeback in NFL postseason history.
Which they did.
How can a franchise that has been so successful for so long be so hated?
There was that matter of spygate last decade and deflategate this decade and if there's one more gate the Patriots will need police escorts just to go to the grocery store.
Then there's Tom Brady, the quarterback who is just a little too perfect with his the great looks, supermodel wife and millions of dollars.
Brady is so perfect, he even shook hands, perhaps grudgingly, with his arch-adversary, NFL commissioner, after the victory over Atlanta.
And there's Bill Belichick, the grumpy head coach who is just a little too imperfect and about as huggable as a porcupine.
Could anyone possibly root for a team like this, a quarterback like this, a head coach like this?
Yes, of course someone could. A lot of someones could. New Englanders could, for sure.
Hometowns - or a home region in this case - have a remarkable ability to ignore flaws and faults.
Chicago sports fans should understand that as much as anyone.
The Bulls won the last three of their six NBA titles with Dennis Rodman, a dirty player and comic-book villain.
Heck, the Cubs just won their first World Series title in 108 years with closer Aroldis Chapman, who had been suspended after being accused of domestic violence.
This isn't a phenomenon only here, naturally.
Barry Bonds remains an icon in the Bay Area despite being a miserable human long suspected of using steroids.
Cheat, lie, spy, be miserable toward people … and at least your own fans will love you even if nobody else will.
Oh, and the Patriots are guilty of another sin: They're too good.
The Pats win too much, like five Super Bowls since the turn of the century.
Brady? He's also guilty of being too successful for somebody who was punished for doctoring footballs.
Many believe Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history, but many others can't forgive him for deflategate.
Together, Brady and Belichick are considered the best QB-coach tandem of all time.
One is too perfect, the other too imperfect, they're both too successful … all with the specter of a couple football scandals hanging over them.
You know what? They don't care what anyone outside of their locker room and outside New England think of them.
It doesn't matter to them whether you like them. They don't even care whether you respect them.
All they care about is that they'll go home to another parade with another Lombardi Trophy.
A good guess is Chicago sports fans wouldn't mind if the Bears were as hated for being as good as the Patriots are.