Two more wins and the Patriots have the first perfect regular season in 35 years and five more wins gives them the first 19-0 season. More importantly, five more wins will help shut those annoying 1972 Dolphins up!
The biggest problem the Patriots are facing this season is the majority of those living outside New England want to see them and their effort to have a perfect season like the '72 Dolphins fail. Whether it's their continued success, the personality of their head coach, the level of dislike reached a new level with the media criticizing the Patriots' past accomplishments after the much overblown "Spy-gate" controversy.
I can understand why the nation has turned against the Patriots since their Cinderella win over the vaunted St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. They were the darlings of the league until they did the unthinkable. They just kept on winning. NFL fans get tired of the same team winning everything year-after-year. It's hard to root for dynasties and it's much more fun to root for an underdog. If you're one of those fans who wants to see the Patriots fail, by all means continue to root against, it's your God given right.
But does the country really like the '72 Dolphins?
While some fans resent the Patriots' run for perfection, they could consider disliking those insufferable members of the '72 Miami Dolphins. Each year, players and coaches gather in South Florida for yet another pompous celebration of their 17-0, Super Bowl-winning perfect season. When they pop those corks each year when the last of the unbeaten teams goes down in defeat, those same Dolphins arrogantly proclaim themselves as the best team in NFL history. (See footnotes at the end of this article.)
When the 1985 Bears traveled to the Orange Bowl in Miami for a Monday night appearance, and lost their only game of the season, most of the '72 Miami Dolphin players were in attendance, and Don Shula was still the coach. The '85 Bears were one of the most dominant teams in NFL history and the while the '72 Dolphins didn't' lose a game, ther is no doubt the Bears would have crushed them in a head-to-head matchup.
During a current unbeaten run by the 2007 New England Patriots, many of those former '72 Dolphins took the time to take their shots at the Patriots and the credibility of their streak. Instead of embracing another team's accomplishments and journey for perfection, they chose to take the low road.
Earlier this season, Don Shula said the Patriots season should have an asterisk next to it because they illegally used a camera on the sidelines in the first quarter of the first game of the season. You never saw the family of Roger Maris ask for an asterisk next to Mark McGuire's name in 1998 when he admitted to using Androstenedione, a muscle building drug later banned by Major League Baseball, when he shattered Maris' single season home run record. Even Hank Aaron congratulated Barry Bonds after the Bonds broke Aaron's all-time home run record this passed baseball season.
The Maris family and Aaron showed class when those records fell, and if they were rooting for the records to hold up, you didn't' see them cheerleading publicly. A few weeks ago, Shula made an appearance in the broadcast booth on Monday Night Football in Baltimore, openly rooting against the Patriots. The ESPN broadcast crew was positively giddy each time the Patriots suffered what appeared to be the final nail in their perfect season coffin. Shula's '72 team was showered with ever-increasing compliments, while the Patriots struggled to fight their way back against a heavy underdog Ravens team. Classless!
Former kicker Garo Yepremian echoed Shula's statements on the Patriots. He said if the Patriots go 19-0, they should "bring their camera with them to the Hall of Fame."
Former '72 Dolphins' running back "Mercury" Morris has appeared on ESPN on numerous occasions campaigning against the Patriots' accomplishments. He said in one interview that the Patriots, or any other potential perfect team, would always be second fiddle to the '72 Dolphins. "Don't call me when you're in my town, call me when you're on my block." Were Morris' words. "When I see you next door moving your furniture in, that's when I know your going to the championship and you're about to play. And when you win it, I'll be dress up in a tuxedo waiting on my bride."
Morris promotes the concept that the Dolphins won with class, while the 2007 Patriots ran up scores. Morris must have forgotten the 52-0 pounding the Dolphins put on the Patriots during the '72 season. That's winning with class.
The insecurity and protectiveness of the '72 Dolphins as they strive to protect the rarified air surrounding their perfect record is truly surprising. If the Patriots are able to complete the task, it will not diminish the '72 Dolphins accomplishments at all. Babe Ruth is still celebrated as one of the most prolific home run hitters ever, even though many of his records have been broken. Lebron James may overtake all Michael Jordan's records in the NBA, but there will only be one Jordan. Mark Spitz is still considered the greatest swimmer of all-time, even though he no longer holds any world swimming records.
The '72 Dolphins should be included as one of the greatest teams, but each year, it seems the majority of the team members making public comments feel their identities, as undefeated champions will be stripped away if another team goes undefeated. That's just ludicrous. The '72 Dolphins are one of the greatest teams ever regardless of what the Patriots accomplish.
A 19-0 season by the Patriots could end a 35 year period of arrogance, paranoia, and classlessness by some members of the '72 Dolphins. A win against the current Dolphins this Sunday will be one more step to shutting up those '72 Dolphins.
Now that would be perfect!
Kevin Saleeba is a long time contributor to Patriots Insider. You can reach Kevin on the insider forums under the handle KPscoop25, or drop him a note here: kpscoop25
Serious challenges to the '72 Dolphins status as the only perfect team in modern NFL history have come from:
· The '98 Denver Broncos and the 2005 Colts with both teams having won their first 13 games before losing their next two.
· The '84 San Francisco 49ers and the '85 Bears were two teams that had regular seasons of 15-1, and won out through the playoffs, finishing with 18-1 overall records
· The Pittsburgh Steelers also went 15-1 in 2004, but lost in the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots.
· The '98 Minnesota Vikings also had a record of 15-1, before falling to the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 NFC Championship. Current Patriots receiver Randy Moss was a member of that Vikings team.
They're not the only one sot have a perfect season:
· Prior to the modern era of the NFL (which began with the AFL-NFL merger in 1970), the Chicago Bears twice had perfect regular seasons (1934 and 1942), only to lose in the Championship game.