The 2023 New England Patriots
As a Patriots fan, 2023 was quite the rude awakening. It has been rough going since Brady left, but this was different. I’ve been a Patriots fan long enough that I experienced many bad seasons pre-Brady, so I knew it was somewhat inevitable, but I had wondered exactly what it would be like experiencing the basement of the NFL after such a long dynasty. Would it infuriate me? Would I give up and lose my rooting interest entirely? Would I even be able to show my face in the Chicagoland area if the Pats have a worse record than the Bears?
The good news is that I enjoyed this no good, very bad season much more than I expected. With a few notable exceptions, most games were still close and thus somewhat entertaining. And I still listened to Patriots podcasts and followed the weekly power rankings. The topics were just different this time. Quarterback controversy. Draft rankings (why did you have to win that Christmas Eve game!?!) Will Belichick stay or go?
I don’t want that to be the nature of my fandom forever, but it’s nice to confirm that I enjoy the process of following this team regardless of what that actually looks like. With Belichick officially gone, Mayo (almost) officially the successor, and the 3rd pick in the NFL Draft, it should be a very different Patriots team next season.
Despite how it ended, this has been a hell of a run.