Regarding respect

Trust me, I listened closely, replayed the tape, and re-read the transcript, looking for some small semblance of Tom Brady’s tongue being planted firmly inside his cheek, but no. He really went and said it.

“I think we’ve probably been disrespected more than any team in the league this year.”

Oh boy.

If it’s January, then it must be time for New England’s annual quest of using insolence as a means of a springboard into the postseason, even as ridiculous as it sounds for these two-time Super Bowl champion darlings of New England to suddenly declare impertinence on the part of the media, fans, TV networks, pets, and state governments of the land. It worked in 2002, when the Patriots indeed did get no respect.

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Three Super Bowls later and…well, you remember how ridiculous Willie McGinest looked showing off a spanking new front page cover of “Patriots Weekly” touting the team’s dynasty, all the while spouting off how nobody “respected” them enough to beat the Philadelphia Eagles? Now, the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars are toeing off in their own war of just who is exactly respected less. May the better team win? Nah. Better off if the team that feels the most slighted advances to the second round.

Instead of “We just wanted this game more, that’s what drove us” it can be, “People just wanted us to have this game less, that’s what drove us.”

Now, no disrespect intended toward Brady’s delusional statement, but in some way, the rest of the field in this year’s NFL playoffs might have reason to find umbrage with the Patriots’ lack of reverence.

I mean, look at the New York Giants. They’re getting ready to face the Carolina Panthers this weekend, and they have to see the 4-12 Jets claim the back page cover of the New York Daily News. How’s that for a kick in the groin?

It is as if the Patriots know they need to find even ground, the Jaguars stealing their entire schtick, a little like Rodney Dangerfield sitting in the Comedy Connection being forced to listen to some newbie hack on the circuit whine about nobody giving him the credit he deserves.

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WE’RE not getting any respect.

No, wait, WE aren’t.

Sooner or later, Peyton Manning is going to start blabbing on ESPN about how everybody has given up on the Colts because they lost two of their last three games. John Elway can claim that he’s being disrespected because many think the Broncos can finally win a playoff game for the first time without him this month. Sports Illustrated felt the need to run a front-page cover of the all-time season touchdown king with the headline, “Do you know his name?” How much respect does that show? Especially to NFL fans who obviously know who Shaun Alexander is.

As for actual disrespect, there isn’t a whole lot of it being tossed at any of these 12 teams, but for purposes of the argument, if any two have been overlooked the most by the general public, it is by far the 12-4 Jaguars and the 10-6 Washington Redskins in the NFC, the two teams nobody seems to be talking about (six degrees of separation of Mark Brunell). With Washington, that may be because they’re trying to figure out this whole playoff thing once again after a six-year absence. Jacksonville just happened to finish second in their division behind the almost history-making Colts.

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The Florida Times-Union’s Mike Freeman makes it clear today that he’s doing nothing to douse the Jaguars’ denials of insignificance.

“Bloated, overrated, over-hyped, pedestrian, impostor, cream puff, sissy-poos. That is what people are calling what is a pretty good Jaguars team.

“Opponents are tripping over themselves to play them in the postseason. Please, please, please can we play Jacksonville?

“The Jaguars and Denver Broncos are the hottest teams in the AFC entering the playoffs, but while the Broncos have earned respect, the Jaguars are inexplicably treated like they are the Houston Texans.

“There is just one way to end the abuse.

“Beat New England.”

Somewhere in between the Jaguar players screaming, “We’re going to shock the world” of course lies the truth. The Jaguars are getting a healthy dose of respect in these parts as a big, strong defensive team that will create scoring opportunities with turnovers.

As for the Patriots, they are only the most dominant, successful franchise in the modern day NFL, the blueprint for building a winner. But if ESPN doesn’t lead NFL Primetime with them every single week, that’s not just a programming decision, it’s contempt.

It is a tired act that makes the participants sound a little more foolish all the time. Because if anything, there is one definite that stands against it in stark contrast to the message they’re trying to pull over our eyes.

No team in the NFL is indeed MORE respected than the New England Patriots.

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Just don’t tell anybody else. They might feel a little disrespected.