Are the Patriots still a dynasty?
It's been a while since I've heard anyone ask that question. It's been even longer since I've considered the possibility. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Of course not. They haven't won a Super Bowl in eight years. They have only two guys on their roster who've won a Super Bowl at all. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Are you out of your mind?
Are they a great team? Yes. Are they the model of prolonged success in this era of free agency and cap craziness? Yes. Are there any fans in New England who would have rather spent the last 12 years rooting for a different team? Hell no.
But the dynasty's over. It's been over for much longer than it ever existed.
I don't think anything that I just said comes as a shock. I don't expect my inbox to suddenly flood with e-mails from angry Patriots fans with horrible things to say about my intelligence and most likely my mother. Are the Patriots still a dynasty? Is this still the same team, with the mystique, that demands the same fear and respect every time they take the field?
I don't imagine there's anyone who still believes this to be true.
So that why I was surprised that Rob Ninkovich received all the attention he did yesterday afternoon for basically just stating the obvious.
"That whole era is over with. Its gone," Ninkovich told WEEI. So this is a whole new team. Its a different bunch of guys. We all have to experience it and learn for ourselves what its like. Getting in the Super Bowl last year and losing left a bad taste in my mouth.
If anything, I found Ninkovich's words to be refreshing, almost therapeutic. After all, we know even if it's somewhat clouded (in a good way) by the constant presence of Brady and Belichick how much things have changed. It's about time that this team is allowed to embrace that. Even as recently as a few years ago, I don't think a player like Ninkovich would have felt comfortable distancing himself and this team from the glory days, regardless of distant they may have really been. But in reality, although it's sad to say goodbye to who and what the Patriots were, it's good to see them laying the groundwork for the future, and building their own identity.
Especially since, as long as Brady and Belichick are around, the goals and expectations remain the same.