Since 1993, the New England Patriots have had two starting quarterbacks: Perennial Pro Bowler Drew Bledsoe and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.
There was a season when backup quarterback Matt Cassel was forced to play when Tom Brady was injured, but there was no question that Brady would be the starting quarterback once he was healthy.
For 21 years, or the majority of my adult life, this franchise has been in the capable hands of just two quarterbacks.
By comparison the Cleveland Browns have had 18 starting quarterbacks since 1993, and that includes three years when they weren’t even a team. The Washington Redskins have had three starting quarterbacks this season.
In that same 21 year period of time, the Patriots have had just three head coaches: Future Hall of Fame inductees Pete Carroll, Bill Parcells, and Bill Belichick.
By comparison, the Cleveland Browns have had nine head coaches in that same period of time, beginning with Bill Belichick. The Raiders have had an even dozen.
Parcells took the Patriots to the playoffs during every year of his tenure with the team, including a Super Bowl in 1996, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.
I put a shoe through my friend’s living room wall that night.
Carroll was the least successful of the three coaches, but still, he won the AFC East in his first year as head coach and took the team to the playoffs in two of his three seasons. Carroll has gone on to win a Super Bowl and a national championship at the college level.
Under Belichick, the Patriots have gone to five Super Bowls, winning three and coming damn close on two others. The Patriots have been to the playoffs in 12 of his 14 seasons, missing during his first year as head coach and in 2008 when Tom Brady missed all but one game due to injury. Still, the team went 11-5 that year.
The leadership and stability of the New England Patriots has been astounding. It’s no wonder that since 1993, they have the most wins of any NFL franchise. They have also been to the playoffs more often than any other team, made it to more Super Bowls than any other team, and won more championships than any other team.
It’s been a good 20 years. I’ve rarely missed a game and have spent many afternoons and evening in the stadium, watching them from the nosebleeds.
It’s good to be a Patriots fan.