ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Technically, this Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. Unofficially, for everyone outside of New England, it's Patriots-hating day. The past 18 years, you could safely bet on two things in the NFL - the Patriots winning and other teams' fans tearing their hair out after each victory. Sure, success breeds contempt, and it hasn't helped that the Patriots were involved in some scandals. But sports columnist Ray Ratto writes in Deadspin that the hate is getting a little ridiculous. Ray, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
RAY RATTO: Hello. How are you?
SHAPIRO: I'm fine, thanks. All right. Aside from the fact that the Patriots always win, what are some of the reasons that haters give for their passion?
RATTO: Well, it probably started with the tuck rule, when they beat the Raiders with the benefit of a obscure rule that actually existed in the NFL but, to anybody's knowledge, had never been applied. From there, you got to Spygate, where the Patriots were accused of spying on the other team. Then you got to Deflategate, where Tom Brady was accused of having footballs deflated during their win over the Indianapolis Colts, which is a violation of NFL rules. Then you had, basically, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady being associated with Donald Trump, which is its own set of red flags.
SHAPIRO: That is a long and varied list. Do you think those fans have a point?
RATTO: Fans don't have to have a point.
SHAPIRO: (Laughter). That's the nature of fandom.
RATTO: They've never been bothered by having a point before. It's 18 years. It's some things that they got caught at that other teams have probably tried in the past. And I think, in general, it's the idea that sort of the Patriots are above it all that frustrates everybody else. I mean, even last year, when they lost to the Eagles in the Super Bowl, everybody was excited about the Eagles winning for the first time ever. But eventually, that all sort of churned back into, OK, what's the AFC going to do about New England this year? Because the dynasty must die. And the Patriots went out and said, no, the dynasty must not die. So I think that's where we're at now.
SHAPIRO: OK. Well, you have been dispassionately, objectively describing the view of these fans. Where do you come down on this?
RATTO: I actually don't care.
RATTO: Because there's a part of me that says, you know what? If somebody's good enough to beat them, they will. You know, they've been beaten enough times. It's just that over 18 years - and this, I think, is partially the media at work. In a 24/7, 365 media world, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting somebody talking about Tom Brady. So I think there's just this sense of institutional weariness that adds to everything else.
You already didn't like the Patriots. Now you're going to just keep telling me about them. When do you stop? When do I have to stop listening to it? When, you know, you have control over your remote. Change the channel. Mute. There's lots of things you can do to escape it.
SHAPIRO: All right. Someday, the Patriots' dynasty will end. Tom Brady will someday retire. Who will fans get to hate then?
RATTO: I think the Dallas Cowboys are always available for that.
RATTO: But other than that, you know, without the Patriots, I think there'll be a few years where the NFL will be more egalitarian hate-wise that you can pick out, you know, teams you want to hate based on your own impulses.
SHAPIRO: A day of freedom and celebration and widespread hatred, (laughter), among the people and the teams, spread around the nation.
RATTO: Exactly. Hatred will be distributed more equally.
SHAPIRO: Sports columnist Ray Ratto of Deadspin. Thanks a lot.
RATTO: All right. Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.