He's feeling Pat-riotic

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Florida -- Take the title town. It's been 22 years since the Philadelphia 76ers won a championship for the City of Brotherly Love - the longest drought in any of the cities with teams in the major-league baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL.

It's only been 101 days since the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, one year since the New England Patriots won the last Super Bowl and two years since they won the one before that.

I know a City of Champions when I see one. Besides, history says bet on the history chasers.

JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE

When it's a team just happy to be here versus a group attempting to become an all-time team, go with the guys going for the special spot in the annals of history.

When you've covered a five-time Stanley Cup dynasty team and a five-in-a-row Grey Cup team in your town, you've seen it up- close-and-personal.

And I expect you'll see it again today in Super Bowl XXXIX.

It's been very visible all week. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots arrived here very businesslike, to the point of wearing jackets and ties and carrying briefcases, speaking with respect for their opponent and trying to avoid the topic of being on the brink of being a special squad in sports history.

In contrast, the Philadelphia Eagles showed up back on media day, half the players carrying hand-held video cameras to record their once-in-a-lifetime trip to the biggest one-day show in sports.

Getting to the Super Bowl is what it's all about with the Eagles. Winning the Super Bowl is all it can be about for the Patriots.

The way Super Bowl weeks work, the media tends to stray from the obvious story-line. But it's game day. And this one sets up real simple.

Win, and the Pats have won three of the last four Super Bowls. Only the Dallas Cowboys, who won three titles from 1992 to 1995, have ever won that many in the same span.

Win, and quarterback Tom Brady will go 3-0 for the Super Bowl and 9-0 in post-season play. Win, and coach Bill Belichick will go to 9-1 in post-season play, to pass the immortal Vince Lombardi.

The Patriots owner knows what's involved here with history.

"We're trying to create a legacy so our young fans 15 or 20 years from now are going to feel great about the Patriots,'' said Robert Kraft.

"They're going to be passionate the way Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Dallas have fans throughout the country.''

Win, and New England takes on that status. Win today, and you think anybody in Boston is going to miss the Bruins? Lombardi's Packers turned Green Bay into the NFL's original title town before the NFL championship was called the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers won four from 1974 to 1979. The Cowboys won those three in the '90s.

The one thing that strikes you more than anything else about this New England group is the severe shortage of Pro Bowl stars for a team which does nothing but win.

They're ''we'' versus Terrell Owen's "me'' act hogging the headlines.

The theory to many covering this game is that giving Belichick two weeks to game plan just ain't fair, and it all starts and ends there.

To others, it's an AFC vs NFC thing.

The AFC was 44-20 against the NFC this past season. That's 68.8%, the highest percentage since 1979. AFC teams have won five of the last seven Super Bowls.

The pendulum has swung the other way.

Before Denver won the last set of back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, NFC teams had won 13 consecutive Super Bowls.

STATISTICAL REASONS

You can find all sorts of statistical reasons to pick the Patriots. But, in the end, to me, it all comes down to one thing. Winners win.

Linebacker Ted Johnson says winning teaches you a lot about winning.

"When you've been around long enough, the older guys let the newer guys know better. And we have a coach that knows better.''

The Pats are so businesslike that they're their own Super Bores.

"It's boring, but boring works for us,'' said linebacker Mike Vrabel. "It's a professional attitude. You talk about being a professional and that's making the hard look easy. It's not fun for you guys, but it works for us.''

Winning is never boring.


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