By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls. That’s tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most by any team ever.
All of those Patriots victories have of course come since 2001, during an era of increasing technology. The growth of the internet this century has ensured that football fans can and have seen just about any play they could desire to see over this span. Combine that with the many, many victories during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the story of the history of the National Football League without touching on a moment or two from the Patriots’ six championship seasons.
Alas, according to football fans, nothing the Patriots accomplished over the past 20 years even warrants a spot among the 16 greatest moments in NFL history.
Seems like a real misfire.
As part of the 100th-year celebration for the league, the NFL asked fans to vote for the greatest moment in NFL history. As it stands now, 16 moments are still in the running. Though some of those moments involve the Patriots, none of the moments were authored by the Patriots.
The 16 moments moving on to the next round of fan voting for the “Greatest Moment in NFL History.”
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2020
David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII is surely on the list. The Philly Special from Super Bowl LII made it, too. Going back a bit, the Super Bowl win by the 1985 Bears over the Patriots also made the list as potentially one of the greatest moments in NFL history.
Notably absent from the list are Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl-winning interception on the goal line in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX … or Adam Vinatieri’s kicks in the snow … or the historic comeback from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI … or any other singular moment from the Patriots’ 30 playoff wins since 2001.
Some moments that are in the running for the greatest moment in NFL history are unforgettable plays like “Fitz to the post” and “Marcus Allen’s reverse run.” Who could forget those?
Some moments on the list are obvious and had to be included. “The Immaculate Reception,” “The Catch,” “The Tackle,” Super Bowl III, “The Music City Miracle,” “The Ice Bowl,” and “Elway’s Helicopter Run” would qualify. Others are borderline. “The Minneapolis Miracle” was utterly unbelievable … and it preceded a 38-7 loss in the conference championship the following week for the Vikings.
“The Comeback” by Frank Reich and the BIlls in the 1992 playoffs was truly amazing … but it also came in the third of four years that the Bills lost the Super Bowl.
Marcus Allen’s Super Bowl run was spectacular, and it filled many NFL Films reels over the years. But it also came when the Raiders led that Super Bowl 28-9.
Then there is “Fitz to the post.” Uh. What a moment! A touchdown scored in a Super Bowl loss. Truly incredible. Have never seen that before. (Wouldn’t James Harrison’s fumble return have been the more memorable moment from that game, considering how unique it was and … that the Steelers … actually … won the game? Just riffing here.)
To be fair to the process, only one moment from each team was chosen for the competition, which originally included 32 moments and has since been cut to the aforementioned 16. The Patriots’ moment had been the 28-3 comeback vs. the Falcons. Seeing that comeback condensed to 58 seconds is kind of incredible.
The @Patriots' Greatest Moment: 28-3 Comeback
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2020
The largest and craziest comeback in Super Bowl history wasn’t enough to even make the second round of voting, because it was not as spectacular as “Fitz to the post,” obviously.
Just as obvious, the whole endeavor is an effort by the league to involve all 32 fan bases for a vote that really doesn’t mean much beyond getting football fans to think about football for a few extra seconds and maybe even visit the NFL’s website while they’re at it.
It’s an odd requirement, considering some teams have won six Super Bowls and others have won zero. And it is that mission of inclusion that led to some hilarious inclusions on the list. The greatest moment in Atlanta Falcons’ history was, according to this exercise, the 2016 NFC Championship Game win over the Packers. Yikes! Might as well have just included the first three quarters of Super Bowl LI. The Browns’ greatest moment was the 1964 NFL Championship, which somehow topped the 0-16 season, and the first-round draft selections of Tim Couch/Brady Quinn/Johnny Manziel.
In undoubtedly the saddest inclusion of all, the Lions’ greatest moment was … “Thanksgiving in Detroit.” That’s it. Not a memorable play or an unforgettable win. The “greatest” moment in the history of Detroit Lions football is … the fact that they play football on Thanksgiving every year.
Congratulations to the Detroit Lions.
So clearly, the whole thing is a bit preposterous. Still, the operation shouldn’t be called the “Greatest Moment in NFL History” if it is designed to overlook some of the greatest moments in NFL history. The whole 100th anniversary for the NFL is meant to celebrate the great players, teams and moments from the past century. Willfully ignoring the team that’s been dominant to an unprecedented degree for 20 percent of that history (almost 40 percent of the Super Bowl era) kind of makes the whole thing seem like a poor use of everybody’s time.
Oh, and also this: Malcolm Butler’s interception was the greatest moment in NFL history. Are you nuts?!