On Sunday, we're all Cheeseheads

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On Sunday, we're all Cheeseheads

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

If you live in New England, you chose your Super Bowl XLV allegiance long before clicking on this column.

For Patriots fans, the decision was more simple than a Tom Brady sneak over center.

On one hand, youve got the Green Bay Packers, a pretty likable team in all respects. Theyve got the young, upstart QB with a golden arm and record free of rape allegations. Theyve got a little local flavor with BCs BJ Raji. Theyve got Charles Woodson, who despite his involvement in the Snow Bowl, is a player everyone, regardless of NFL affiliation, can respect and support in his quest to finally get that ring. Theyve got inspiring stories like Donald Driver. Theyve got an ardent, never wavering fan base, which hasnt taken home a title since the night Reggie White took Max Lane to school and Desmond Howard killed New Englands dream but enough has happened since then that no one here (outside of maybe Max Lane) still holds any hard feelings.

Most of all the Packers are an organization that stood up to the ruthless, junk-texting tyranny of Brett Favre and is on the verge of being rewarded. Everyone can get behind that. Thats a platform that could stop the madness in Egypt. Thats what the Packers are right now; a team that anyone, even if youre not from around here (or there), can take pride in rooting for.

On the other hand, it doesnt matter.

Because on the other hand, you have the Steelers.

When they played the Jets two weeks ago, New England could find a little solace in Pittsburgh's victory. Anytime they play the Colts, its pretty much the same deal. But short of a scrimmage against the Al-Queda intramural team, youre never going to find a time where Patriots fans are on Pittsburghs side.

Shocking, right?

In other news, Charlie Sheen likes cocaine and porno.

But while the anti-Steelers sentiment is nothing new around these parts, rooting against the Steelers in the Super Bowl on Sunday goes far beyond that.

Its not about just about hoping that Pittsburgh loses, or dreading the sight of an alleged rapistconfirmed creep earning another moment in the sun. This is about more than the Super Schadenfreude that typically goes along with a Big Game appearance by one of New Englands rivals.

Basically, if the Steelers win on Sunday, it will change how this Patriots era is remembered.

Now, obviously its not going to have an effect on we remember it here in New England. Nothing will take away from the three titles. If the Steelers win this game in roughly 48 hours, its not going to be a Back to the Future moment where photos from Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVII and XXXVIII slowly begin to fade out of focus. Youll never look back on Laws interception, Pattens catch, Bradys drive, Vinatieris kicks or any of the other moments from those three games and think, Damn, this just doesnt feel the same.

But it will change New Englands legacy. It will have an effect on how history remembers the Patriots dynasty.

Up until now, and since the moment the Patriots won title No. 3, they have been the only team to do so in the Free Agent era. Belichick (and Pioli) were the masterminds whod beaten an unbeatable system. Brady, the only quarterback since Montana (the closest thing to him!) to have the talent, persistence and pedigree to lead his team to those heights. Its only been them. And Patriots fans have always been able to take pride in that. Its always been one of the calling cards of the teams recent (ish) run.

But if the Steelers win this game on Sunday; if they win their third Super Bowl in six seasons; if Big Ben wins his third before turning 30; if the Steelers show that you dont need Belichicks brain or Bradys magic touch to win three rings in such a short span of time, during such a spastic period in NFL history, then things change a little.

In the big picture, moving forward, from Sunday right up until the asteroid hits, it will always be a little different.

New England would hate that. So on Sunday, amidst snow banks throughout New England, its time to take it up a notch. Other than the AFC title games in 2001 and 2004, theres probably never been a game more worthy to unleash your hatred for the Black and Yellow (Black and Yellow Black and Yellow Black and Yellow).

Thankfully this wont be hard. Hating the Steelers never has been. You can argue, and very easily, that theres been no more bitter Patriot enemy during the BradyBelichick era.

Of course, youve hated the Jets, but until last month, theyd never accomplished anything significant at the Patriots expense. Youve hated the Colts, but thats mostly just because theyre good. Its as much about mutual respect as it is hatred. In fact, take Bill Polian out of the equation, and can you name one Colt whos seriously offended you for reasons beyond making a tackle, grabbing an interception or scoring a touchdown? (OK, you cant count that stretch when Peyton Manning was on 75 percent of all the commercials. That was more a world problem then a New England problem.)

Both the Jets and Colts have given you numerous reasons to wish awful things upon them but no team whether its the constant trash talk, the obsession with Spy Gate and, most of all, that theyre always pretty damn good has been a bigger thorn in New England side than the Steelers.

And with a win on Sunday, that thorn will break the skin of the Patriots Dynasty and bleed it of at least some of its historical significance.

Just another reason to root for the Packers.

Not that you needed one.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

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Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

The Patriots had a busy day of gathering intel on Thursday. A very busy day. 

While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia represented the Patriots at Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively, the team had other representatives at high-profile pro days around the country including Stanford, Missouri and Utah. 

Here are a few of the players the Patriots were able to get a better look at . . . 

Stanford: The Patriots have shown plenty of interest in players coming from David Shaw's program in the past (Cameron Fleming, Jordan Richards), and they'll undoubtedly appreciate the talents brought to the table by two of the school's projected first-rounders in Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey. Thomas is a powerful 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive lineman who can play just about anywhere up front. McCaffrey, meanwhile, is one of the most athletic running backs in this year's class. He worked out as a receiver on Thursday and could fill a multitude of roles as a pro, whether it's as a back, a slot receiver or a kick-returner. The Patriots would need to trade back into the first round to have a prayer at landing either player. 

Utah: The Utes have a handful of draftable offensive linemen and one who is expected to come off the board in the first round. Garrett Bolles, who lit up the combine, might be the top tackle available -- and there are those who believe he's just starting to tap into his potential. Isaac Asiata is a monster guard (6-3, 323, 34-inch arms) who put up more bench-press reps than any other offensive lineman at this year's combine, and center JJ Dielman is an intriguing later-round option. One of the quickest risers in the pre-draft process? Marcus Williams, who is an eye-popping athlete. He was top-five for those at his position at the combine in the vertical, broad jump and three-cone drill, and he looks like a ready-made NFL free safety. The Patriots are pretty well stocked at that spot, but if they're picking at the bottom of the first round and going with the best player available, they may very well think that's Williams. 

Missouri: Defensive players were in focus for scouts and coaches at the Tigers pro day, and Charles Harris was the headliner. One of the most impressive players within a very deep class of edge defenders, the 6-3, 253-pounder appears to have the quickness and burst to give NFL tackles fits. One of Harris' teammates up front, Josh Augusta, ran a pretty ridiculous 40-yard dash Thursday, clocking in just a shade under five seconds. Ridiculous, why? Because he's a defensive tackle who wighed 390 pounds during the season. That's moving. Augusta dropped down to 347 after being diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January and is looking to get to 335. Corner Aarion Penton can competes well for the football, but his size (5-9, 177) may scare teams off until late in the draft. 

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

The Patriots and Darrelle Revis have not discussed a deal that would bring the cornerback back to New England, according to CSNNE's Tom Curran.

This comes after CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported multiple anonymous NFL executives were convinced Revis would return to the Patriots.

Revis spent one season with the Patriots in 2014 when New England won Super Bowl XLIX. However, the Patriots did not pick up Revis' second-year option in the following offseason, and he elected to sign with the New York Jets in free agency. He played 14 games in 2015 and 15 games in 2016. He finished last season with 53 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception

The 31-year-old cornerback declined significantly during the 2016 season. Even Tom Brady said he noticed Revis was struggling phyiscally in the Patriots' Week 12 win over the Jets.

"I know he's not feeling great," Brady said in November. "I could see after the game, he winced a few times getting up. It looked like his leg was bothering him a little bit. But he's still very close on a lot of those plays. Even though you're hitting them, he's still very competitive.

"He's been one of the great players in the league for a long time. He's given up more plays this year than in the past, but you've gotta have a lot of respect for his style and his game."