Yes, Patriots, You Should Be Proud of Your Effort

Buried in an article on about the NFL season going to a 17 or 18 game schedule were some tasty nuggets about the Patriots "undefeated season" championship rings. Let's take a look and just be a prick, shall we?

There was the journey toward a 16-0 regular season and the AFC championship, then the bitter ending of a crushing defeat in Super Bowl XLII. When top Patriots officials gathered this offseason, they pondered the best way to celebrate a season that had such exhilarating highs and one crushing low.

I will never get tired of knowing the arrogant, haughty, Belichick-led Patriots had their season crushed all while their mouth-breathing fans were drawing up "19-0" placards (well, those who could count to 19). And, really, why would you "celebrate" a failed season at all? Ask any player, and they'll tell you winning it all is the reason for playing.

In the end, after declaring the season the fourth-greatest achievement in team history, they elected to have a private ceremony to commemorate it last Monday at Gillette Stadium.

Oh? Why private? Don't you think the Southies would love to come out in droves to "celebrate" achievement in team history?

Owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft presented the players with rings. On one side of the ring, it reads "16-0 -- perfect season." On the other, it reads "18-1, AFC Championship."

I love this. Love love love it. Championship rings for the losing team in the Super Bowl. Now, before you write to correct me -- yes, I realize the loser often does have a ring made up. Sadly, Tom Jackson of ESPN wears one of his because his Broncos never won it all. But that's just it -- Tom's teams were never really expected to roll through the Super Bowl and so he proudly wears his AFC title ring from whenever it was. But really, does anyone else? I mean, I'm sure the third-stringers who are now financial analysis do... but any members of that Pats team? And who's going to want to trumpet their "perfect season," when, you know... it wasn't perfect? Isn't that kind of false advertising? If you're going to say it's a perfect season and make things up, why not just go the whole way and put "Super Bowl Champions" on the side since you all decided you were the champs ahead of time anyway? Or is it a truth and lies ring? On one side is the 16-0 record and on the other is their (actual) 18-1 record? Fun.

In addition, a banner was made to commemorate the season, and it was unveiled at the ceremony, with Kraft pulling a rope as it came down from the ceiling. It will be displayed at Gillette Stadium, next to the team's Super Bowl banners.

Yes, what better way to commemorate the biggest disappointment this group of players has ever felt? Let's hang a banner showing them how close they came to being the greatest team ever and holding that mantle, probably forever. This would be like the Seattle Mariners hanging a banner after winning 116 games in 2001 but losing to the Yankees in the playoffs. Or the 2004 Yankees hanging a banner to commemorate that they almost got to the World Series with a 3-0 ALCS lead before blowing it. Why would you do that? To remind yourself that you choked?

"I think there were two things going on from last year - and one was that it was an extraordinary year that I don't think we got to savor and enjoy," Kraft said. "We accomplished something special as a team and organization last year, under tremendous scrutiny, more scrutiny than any team has ever been under.

Because you cheated.

"We went 16-0, we won 18 straight games, and then the 19th game ended so abruptly that all of us have had a sick feeling in our stomach.

Because you choked.

"I think in 10-15 years from now, when people look back and start to realize what happened here, it probably will never happen again.

No, I think there will be AFC champs who lose the Super Bowl to an underdog again.

I can't say it won't, but you have to have a confluence of so many things coming together. We wanted to congratulate the team and the coaches for what they accomplished."

Losing the Super Bowl as a heavy favorite? Not getting the job done?

Added coach Bill Belichick, "It was a very special and historic year, and I want them to look back with pride when they look at the ring and remember the week-to-week approach.

Look at the ring.... in their dresser. Or under a footstool. Because nobody's going to be wearing them. And if they do, they deserve to be mocked.

"When you're in a season, you're always moving on to the next game, the next challenge, and because there is always something ahead, you never look back. I thought it was a good time to talk about it and acknowledge it, and also talk about how I appreciated their approach and superior performance they gave throughout the year."

Superior until the end, that is.

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