St. Mary's County Times January 11, 2018 - Page 27

Thursday, January 11, 2018 The County Times Sports 27 St. Mary’s Women Extend Winning Streak Dying Institution By Ronald N. Guy Jr. Contributing Writer January 19, 2002. I was at Fager’s Island bar in Ocean City, Maryland when it happened. I didn’t understand it then; I still don’t completely un- derstand it now. Where were you? More specifically, where were you the day Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patri- ots beat the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game and America’s foot- ball fans were introduced to the obscure and baffling “tuck rule?” Time has provided considerable context to that moment. Entering that now famous/ infamous game, Brady was an unheralded and, it seemed, moderately-talented sec- ond year quarterback. He appeared more “game manager” than “game breaker.” Belichick, in just his second year as New England’s head coach, was trying to estab- lish himself after five failed years in Cleve- land and an awkward one-day stint as New York Jets head coach that he ended with a one-line, hand-written faxed resignation. Fourteen seasons and five Super Bowl championships later that bumbling, unac- complished coach and that inconsequential quarterback are now the best quarterback and head coach, respectively, in NFL his- tory and constants for the greatest dynasty in modern professional sports. It all began on that January day in 2002, but its end may be near. If you buy a recent piece by ESPN Se- nior Writer Seth Wickersham, the Patriots are disintegrating from within. Wicker- sham presents a compelling case: Brady’s sick of Belichick’s tongue lashings and lack of public praise; Belichick is torqued over being forced to trade Jimmy Garop- polo, Brady’s heir apparent; and both are at odds over Alex Guerrero’s – Brady’s train- er/business partner – access to the team. Wickersham’s piece casts Guerrero as a football version of Yoko Ono; but this seems more the generic work of two pow- erful entities tiring of coexistence. Regard- less, the end was near even before Wicker- sham’s agitation; it will just accelerate in earnest if he’s right. Brady is 40; Belichick is 65. Neither man has anything left to prove. Disgust- ing riches and irreproachable legacies are secure. They were going to be doing this in five years anyway, Guerrero or no Guer- rero. The difference now is the Belichick- Brady, Patriots-forever-Super-Bowl-con- tenders thing might end this year. The suggestion is sweet music to 31 other NFL fan bases. Understandable. The Patriots are easy to hate: Belichick’s curmudgeon-shtick, golden boy Brady and his supermodel wife, the tuck rule, Spy- gate, Deflategate and all…that…winning. But even as a salty Washington fan, this isn’t a funeral I eagerly anticipate or will celebrate. Through scandal, personnel changes, and a league financial system that’s sup- posed to subvert sustained success, the Patriots have consistently quieted the noise, never made excuses and resisted the urge