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The End of the Dynasty… ?

I only have a passing interest in professional football. I rarely watch many regular season games. As I get older I recognize fewer and fewer names, and those players I know are mostly quarterbacks. As the NFL reaches the playoffs, my entire rooting interests revolve around the quarterbacks. I root for Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees (yeah, the old guys), and… (wait this is a Yankees blog and I love the Yankees)

and…

(Oh my goodness)

Tom Brady.

Yes, I have a rooting interest in the New England Patriots. I enjoy watching them win. I enjoy watching a team that has put together a dynasty of sustained success that, in many ways, is unlike any in the history of pro sports…except if you consider the New York Yankees.

Maybe that’s why I always have a soft spot for the New England team when they play… They might play in the territory of our biggest rivals, the majority of their fan base probably all root for the Red Sox, but there is, or was, something Yankee-like about the Patriots and their sustained success.

Tom Brady, in some ways, has always reminded me of Derek Jeter. He’s a leader. He’s a winner. He’s the face of the modern team that only wins and wins and wins. Looking back a bit farther in history, Brady might also remind someone of Mickey Mantle for many of the same reasons.

Jeter, Mantle, and Brady have all presided as the biggest stars on teams that won for exceptionally long periods of time.

And how about the head coach, Bill Belichick? Might he remind some of Joe Torre or Casey Stengel? All these of those “managers” had failed in previous leadership roles with teams before coming to a new franchise and leading a squad through a period of sustained and unprecedented success.

Maybe that’s why I root for the Patriots in these games. They just remind me of the Yankees.

I like success. I celebrate success. I think success is a good thing – a great thing.

I wanted the Patriots to win last night. I am a little sad that they lost. (Note, I am a little sad. I don’t have nearly the interest in them or football as I do with the Yankees and there is no “Start Passing the Pigskin” blog in my future)

To be clear, I’m a little sad, but not sad like when the Yankees lose and my insides feel empty. I was over the Patriots loss in about three and a half seconds. Yankees season ending losses linger a bit longer with me (like…forever). I’m still not over the 1995 playoff loss to the Seattle Mariners.

But, and maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with the announcers from last night’s game, or maybe they didn’t have a whole lot to talk about, or maybe even their producer said, “We want you to mention the same thing during the telecast four hundred million times,” but, my goodness, all throughout the entire broadcast, the announcers kept saying that the Patriots’ dynasty was ending. After the game, they said it was over. (At one point, the Patriots were up by six points and the announcers were saying, “This might be it for the dynasty.” Talk about a boring game to listen to…)

To cut to the chase, the Patriots lost. They’re out of the playoffs. But is the dynasty over?

How can people say the dynasty is over? The Patriots were just in the playoffs. They just won their division for, I think, the 900th year in a row. Isn’t that success? Winning teams lose games. They lose playoff games. Great teams don’t win the championship every year. That does not mean a dynasty is over.

When I hear this stuff, I think of the Yankees and their dynasties. It takes a lot more than a loss in a Wild Card Game to end a dynasty.

But, one might say, Tom Brady might not be back… Bill Belichick might go and coach another team… If they leave the dynasty has to be over.

Except… No.

Managers leave. Star players leave or retire. But even without them, dynasties can, and do, prevail.

Let’s go back and look at the Yankees as an example of this.

The Yankees’ greatest dynasty was the period of 1949 to 1964. Like the Patriots of today, all the Yankees seemed to do was win. But, like the Patriots of today, the Yankees didn’t win every single year.

Not all all.

Managed by Casey Stengel, the Yankees won the World Series in 1949. Their big star was the great Joe DiMaggio. The Yankees then won the World Series in 1950 and 1951…

One could argue that the defining presence on the Yankees going back to 1936 and lasting until 1951 (except during the World War II years) was Joe DiMaggio. Like Tom Brady, when DiMaggio played, the Yankees seemed to win every year. DiMaggio played in 13 seasons and went to the World Series ten times. (Wow!)

But, after the 1951 season, Joe DiMaggio retired.

Was the dynasty over?

No. A certain Mickey Mantle took over in center field and in the middle of the batting order and the Yankees just kept winning.

The Yankees won the World Series in 1952 and 1953.

In 1954, the Yankees won 103 games. They were great. It just so happened that the Cleveland Indians won 111 games that year and the Yankees didn’t go to the World Series.

Was the dynasty over? No.

The Yankees went back to the World Series the very next year – 1955.

But, in 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers shocked the world and defeated the Yankees in the World Series.

Was the dynasty over? No.

The Yankees went back and won the World Series in 1956. They then reached the World Series in 1957 and 1958 as well, losing to the Braves in 1957 and then defeating the Braves in 1958.

In 1959, the Yankees were a pedestrian 79-75. They finished in third place. The “Go Go” White Sox won the American League that year.

Was the dynasty over? No. Not by a long shot.

The Yankees were back in the World Series in 1960. That year they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the loss, their great manager, Casey Stengel, was fired.

Was the dynasty over?

No, the Yankees went to the World Series in each of the next four years from 1961 through 1964, winning it all in 1961 and 1962.

The dynasty didn’t end until the Yankees lost the 1964 World Series. After that loss, the team stumbled and crumbled. By 1966, they were a last place team. The mighty had fallen. The Yankees wouldn’t reach the playoffs again until 1976. They didn’t win a World Series again until 1977.

Is the Patriots dynasty over because they lost a playoff game last night?

I don’t think so. Not yet. It might be, but we’ll only know that looking back a few years from now. Great teams sometimes stumble.

A dynasty is a period of sustained success. In spite of losing last night, the Patriots had a successful year by any definition. Like the Yankees of recent years, they didn’t win their ultimate mission, but they also weren’t failures. They won their division. They reached the playoffs. They just didn’t win it all this year.

That’s not, necessarily, the end of a dynasty.

I wouldn’t write off the Patriots just yet…

#TomBrady #MickeyMantle #DerekJeter #Jeter #Patriots

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