69 Thoughts on Rob Gronkowski, The Greatest Tight End in NFL History

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  1. Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL yesterday.
  2. Rob Gronkowski is the greatest player to ever play the tight end position and one of the greatest all-around football players in league history.
  3. If you think there’s a tight end that was better than Rob Gronkowski you’re wrong.
  4. Gronk was the best blocking tight end ever and the best receiving tight end ever. Do the math.
  5. The best number 87 in NFL history, too.
  6. People forget his brother Chris played in the league, too.
  7. People forget his brother Dan played in the league, too.
  8. People forget his brother Glenn played in the league, too.
  9. Five best Gronk seasons
  10. 90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs (2011)- also the greatest season in tight end history
  11. 82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs (2014)
  12. 72 catches, 1,176 yards, 11 TDs (2015)
  13. 69 catches, 1,084 yards, 8 TDs (2017)- surely his favorite season
  14. 81 catches, 1,163 yards, 12 TDs (16 playoff games)
  15. List of various records Gronk has
  16. Only tight end to lead the league in touchdown catches.
  17. Only tight end with over 1,000 career playoff receiving yards.
  18. Naturally, that makes him the all-time leader in playoff receiving yards by a tight end.
  19. Most TD catches in a season by a tight end (17).
  20. Most TDs in a season by a tight end (18).
  21. Most playoff receiving TDs by a tight end (12).
  22. Most seasons with 10+ TDs by a tight end (5).
  23. Only tight end with three 1,000+ yard and 10+ TD seasons.
  24. Tied for most 1,000 yard seasons by tight end (4, with Tony Gonzalez).
  25. Most consecutive seasons with 10+ TDs by a tight end (3).
  26. Tied for most TDs in first two seasons (28, with Randy Moss).
  27. Youngest player with 3 TD catches in a game (2010).
  28. Youngest player with 3 TD catches in a playoff game (2011).
  29. Most Super Bowl receptions by tight end (23).
  30. Most Super Bowl receiving yards by tight end (297).
  31. All-time leader in tight end yards per game (68.3- so close!)
  32. All-time leader in tight end touchdowns per game (.69- hell yeah)
  33. All-time leader in tight end yards per target (9.9)
  34. Tom Brady’s passer rating when targeting Gronk was 127.1
  35. My favorite parts of Gronk’s career:
  36. When he had 7 TDs in the second half of his rookie year and announced himself to the world.
  37. When he threatened to revolutionize the NFL in 2011 when his partnership with [redacted] tore up the league with the greatest tight end production ever.
  38. As he steadily added new massive braces every year, he became harder to tackle.
  39. All the Pats haters realizing they liked Gronk, thus breaking their brains.
  40. Having the best quarterback ever throw to the best tight end ever was pretty sweet, if you ask me.
  41. Best individual games/moments:
  42. The camo elbow brace
  43. When he nearly won the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Denver single-handedly.
  44. When he was an inch away from catching the deflected Hail Mary in the 2011 Super Bowl.
  45. His final catch- the diving catch that set up the only touchdown in this year’s Super Bowl.
  46. Yo Soy Fiesta
  47. Gronk somehow managing to be the ultimate frat bro but being almost universally beloved throughout his career is an underrated phenomenon.
  48. Gronk was a true 1-of-1. No one that big and strong will ever be as fast and nimble as he was.
  49. Hey, Travis Kelce, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as good or as cool as Gronk. Boom, roasted.
  50. This preposterous Dunkin ad.
  51. I’ll be honest, 69 is a lot of thoughts to have on Gronk.
  52. That time he was photographed with porn star Bibi Jones and had to apologize to Bob Craft is so funny now.
  53. Hate on the Pats all you want, Gronk was a genuinely good guy.
  54. He’s a regular at schools and children’s hospitals and seems to actually enjoy giving back.
  55. Probably doesn’t hurt that the kids all have the same sense of humor as he does.
  56. It’s too late for a Wrestlemania run this year, but 2020?
  57. It makes too much sense.
  58. I’m gonna miss Gronk, man.
  59. On the field, he’s irreplaceable. Probably the second-most irreplaceable player from this entire run (wonder who’s number one?).
  60. I’ll pray for all the tables in the greater Western New York area.
  61. Let’s be honest, though. He’ll be back for the playoffs.

 

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Farewell Ichiro

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that the 2019 MLB season actually started yesterday when the Mariners and A’s began a two-game set in Tokyo. That sentence doesn’t exactly move the needle for the American mainstream. But something monumental happened early this morning: Ichiro Suzuki, future Hall of Famer, played his last Major League Baseball game.

It’s tough to know where to start with Ichiro, especially for people who don’t remember his prime. I guess I’ll start with his numbers since they’re the only part of him that’s easy to quantify. He came to the MLB at age 27 after getting 1,278 hits with a .943 OPS in Japan and immediately won Rookie of the Year and MVP. His first 10 seasons in the league he made the All-Star Game every year, got over 200 hits every year, won a Gold Glove every year, won two batting titles, lead the league in hits seven times, and collected 2,244 hits and 383 steals. He was a beast and one of the best two-way outfielders in history who was underappreciated in his prime because he played in Seattle for a team that didn’t win a lot and in the early-to-mid 2000s we still didn’t really understand that counting wins and losses against a baseball player was kind of dumb. In 2004 guy set the record for hits in a season, won a Gold Glove, and lead the American League in WAR and finished 7th in MVP. Huh? Listen, the last eight years or so weren’t great, but the fact that he was still playing at all into his 40s is amazing. He’s the all-time hit leader if you combine his Japanese and MLB stats, and that’s really all you need to know. He’s a no-doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer.

But if he was just another great player, he wouldn’t be Ichiro. Ichiro was just cool, man. Everything about him was cooler than everyone else around him. Fastest guy in the league? Cool. Absolute rocket arm that could gun people down at age 45? Cool. Unreal highlight catches? Cool. His sunglasses were cool. His stance was cool. The Mariners Ichiro number 51 jersey was cool as hell. Was he also a fashion icon?

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I’ll let you decide.

Ichiro, at least for me, is kind of the last remnant of a time I’m finding myself oddly nostalgic for (despite spending many, many words defending the current era). Ichiro came into the league two years before Moneyball was released and put us on the road to solving baseball. It was a time when speed mattered, guys actually put the ball in play, and teams had different styles of play. A time when the Three True Outcomes weren’t a widely-known concept. Don’t get me wrong, I love today’s game. But are steals and balls in play really that bad (don’t tell anyone, but I’m starting to feel this way about the NBA, too. I don’t need every game to be a Rockets game)? I wouldn’t say Ichiro wouldn’t be able to succeed in today’s homer-centric league, he’s too talented of a baseball player not to be able to adapt to any era. But his career would certainly be different, and I think it would be worse.

One of the best player profiles I’ve ever read was Wright Thompson’s piece on Ichiro from last year. He described Ichiro’s relationship with his father and how, even though he resented the endless drills and practicing, he became addicted to the craft. There’s a Japanese concept called kodawari (yes, I’m a mild weeb, but you already knew that) that’s, in essence, an extreme focus on and dedication to achieving perfection in whatever you’re doing even though you know perfection is impossible. To see Ichiro demonstrate this so clearly and come so close to finding perfection with something he doesn’t even really like is fascinating to me. Part of me wonders if we’ll ever really see Ichiro again, but something tells me he’s going to enjoy his retirement too much to come back to the game. Thnks fr th Mmrs, Ichiro.

The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness 2019

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Folks,,, it’s March Madness time. Crazy how it happens around the same time every year. The first weekend is my favorite four day stretch of the year, it’s your favorite four days of the year, it’s everyone’s favorite four days of the year. It’s a time to eat infinite amounts of pizza, wings, and snacks, drink as much beer as you want, and let your brain and body turn to mush as you watch a million consecutive hours of college basketball. The comedown from this high is something I imagine heroin users deal with when trying to get clean. Maybe not that bad, but still.

I’ve made it a tradition over the last couple years to give one-sentence primers for every team in the field to help with your brackets. I’ll do the same here, obviously, but there’s one problem: I’m so out of the loop with college basketball this year. I’ve hardly watched any. I’m busy most nights and then the NBA is more interesting and UConn is the worst team in D1 and there are a million other factors, but I’m the guy that’s tuning in for his first extended run of college b-ball watching this weekend. Only difference between me and the other casual Johnny-Come-Latelys is that my brain is big enough to put together a perfect preview without the full knowledge. I can always see the full board, and I know these teams better than they know themselves even though I don’t know them at all. Just think about how impressive that is. So don’t worry. You’re still in good hands. Yearly reminder that if you’re making earnest “Where’s TruTV?” jokes or legitimately can’t find a television channel in the year of our Lord 2019, you don’t deserve to live anymore.

East Region

  1. Duke– Zion Williamson, am I right?
  2. Michigan State– Every single player on their team is hurt so don’t expect much.
  3. LSU– Their coach is being investigated by the FBI and is suspended, so things are going great.
  4. Virginia Tech– Buzz Williams coached Jimmy Butler, people forget that.
  5. Mississippi State– Alright, like, come on, Mississippi State is the worst 5 seed in history.
  6. Maryland– One of the youngest teams in the field so they’ll make you feel really good about your life.
  7. Louisville– Feel like they’re due for a run (#analysis).
  8. VCU– VCU will always be somewhere between an 8-10 seed and always run the same full-court press regardless of roster or coach.
  9. UCF– Tacko Fall is 7’6″, which my sources are confirming is quite tall.
  10. Minnesota– No word on if Richard Pitino reaches climax as quickly as his father.
  11. Belmont– Belmont should have been in the regular field without dealing with play-in game antics.
  12. Liberty– People forget Seth Curry went to Liberty his freshman year and averaged 20 a game.
  13. Saint Louis– Remember a few years ago when Saint Louis was randomly good for a few seasons? What was up with that?
  14. Yale– I will die fighting against people who frame Ivy League teams as plucky underdogs.
  15. Bradley– I respect the delusion it takes to strip a reporter of his press pass for not advancing the Bradley brand enough.
  16. N.C. Central/North Dakota State– Why are there two play-in games in the same bracket and why is there a Midwest region instead of a North region and why does no one but me care?

Midwest Region

  1. North Carolina– I know they’ve got a few NBA guys on the team, but when did UNC lose all its star power? They haven’t had any must-watch guys in years.
  2. Kentucky– Please let Tyler Herro hit a game-winning shot so we can have a pun-pocalypse.
  3. Houston– I know they’re a fellow AAC team but if you actually believe they can do anything in the tournament I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.
  4. Kansas– Kansas STINKS this year but they’re still somehow the last team I’d want to play.
  5. Auburn– Their strategy is “shoot a billion 3s,” which I respect on a deep level.
  6. Iowa State– Somehow three guys from this team will be in the NBA in four years.
  7. Wofford– They’ll be the trendy upset pick because people like college teams with a bunch of white guys who can shoot.
  8. Utah State– I’m kind of feeling them this year even though I don’t love their draw.
  9. Washington– I assume they’re still handsomely paying elite athletes under-the-table (or over-the-table, I don’t think they really care) to put on the purple and gold.
  10. Seton Hall– Seton Hall sounds like an English soccer stadium name.
  11. Ohio State– It’s always kind of stupid when teams like Ohio State get seeded so low because, like, they’ve gotta have better players than Utah State.
  12. New Mexico State– Pascal Siakam went to New Mexico State, bet not many people knew that.
  13. Northeastern– I took a tour of Northeastern when either my sister or I was touring colleges so there’s that.
  14. Georgia State– Still got R.J. Hunter, right?
  15. Abilene Christian– Abilene Christian always pops up every few years and does absolutely nothing in the tournament.
  16. Iona– They’re my local team, now.

South Region

  1. Virginia– Can’t really get worse, can it?
  2. Tennessee– Grant Williams is giving me major “Derrick Williams in 2011” vibes (that’s a good thing).
  3. Purdue– First Man came out just before the season, which should propel Purdue to their typical second-round exit.
  4. Kansas State– Super boring. That’s really all you need to know.
  5. Wisconsin– The year is 2187, and Wisconsin basketball is led by two white guys with buzzcuts who like to take charges.
  6. Villanova– Spent long stretches of the season being absolutely awful but count them out at your own risk.
  7. Cincinnati– If it wasn’t reckless libel, I would probably imply that Mick Cronin’s absurd outbursts of anger and violence on the sidelines likely follow him home.
  8. Ole Miss– If you told me Ole Miss didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  9. Oklahoma– If you told me Oklahoma didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  10. Iowa– What’s the post-WWII record for most white guys in one region?
  11. St. Mary’s– St. Mary’s has never been anything other than an 11 seed.
  12. Oregon– Bol Bol won’t be playing, so the one guy you might have known is out the window.
  13. UC Irvine– Doc Rivers and Caron Butler both have kids on this team, how about that?
  14. Old Dominion– Love coach Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Haha, no, we have fun here.
  15. Colgate– You have my permission to slap anyone who makes toothpaste jokes.
  16. Garnder-Webb– I don’t know, man. They’re gonna lose, who cares?

West Region

  1. Gonzaga– They have the most high-level players in the country, so expect them to lose before the Elite Eight because that’s how the Tournament works.
  2. Michigan– I’m pretty sure I’d be like, the third best scorer on this Michigan team.
  3. Texas Tech– Veteran team with at least one NBA guy= Elite Eight.
  4. Florida State– No idea how Florida State always has ten 7’2″ guys but they do.
  5. Marquette– Markus Howard is going to be your new favorite player (assuming he gets hot and they win).
  6. Buffalo– How do you convince a bunch of good basketball players to go to school in Buffalo? Just money?
  7. Nevada– Nevada was supposed to be super nasty this year. They weren’t.
  8. Syracuse– Sources have yet to confirm if Tony Stewart will be behind the Orange bench.
  9. Baylor– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  10. Florida– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  11. Arizona State/St. John’s– Does Arizona State just have a permanent spot in the First Four?
  12. Murray State– Ja Morant is good.
  13. Vermont– Committee screwed my Cats with this matchup. Trying to keep the Blue Bloods down smh.
  14. Northern Kentucky– Northern Kentucky is nicknamed the Norse after the famed Norse from Northern Kentucky.
  15. Montana– I bet Montana is a nice place to live.
  16. Fairleigh Dickinson– Really dislike the way Fairleigh is spelled.

How is there a Torii Hunter, Jr. in Spring Training Already?

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I was perusing my MLB At Bat™ mobile application this weekend just getting ready for the upcoming baseball season and catching up on Spring Training storylines when I was slapped directly in the face by what has to be a false flag headline. I’m paraphrasing here, but it said something along the lines of “Torii Hunter, Jr. Powers Angels.” I immediately knew this to be incorrect, since there is no possible way that Torri Hunter, former All-Star centerfielder who retired in 2015 already has progeny in the professional baseball ranks. But, sadly, I then remembered that I already knew about THJ because he played football at Notre Dame. Following a minor breakdown where I was questioning my own transience, I began to accept this preposterous fact that Torii Hunter, who had his first MLB at-bat in 1998, had a son that was fighting for a major league spot (he’s only three and a half years younger than me, though, so maybe I’ve still got some time to make the show).

Anyway, all of this got me thinking about athlete’s sons (and daughters, too. It’s 2019, after all) and what leads to them being good or not. This isn’t an original thought, but the quality of the offspring is almost always inversely related to the parent’s ability, and Torii Hunter might have been a little too good to produce a quality major league baseball player. MJ’s kids? Stunk at basketball. LeBron’s kids have yet to make the NBA. Roger Clemens’s kids are all coaches now. They can’t be too bad, though. The sweet spot is role player to quality player. Dell Curry’s kid is good. Bobby Bonds and Ken Griffey, Sr. both had sons make the major leagues. Pat Mahomes, Sr. has a professional athlete son. The lone exception seems Vlad Guerrero, Jr., but they always say the exception proves the rule, which is a concept that makes no sense whatsoever because if a rule is something that is always true, how could the existence of something that proves the rule isn’t always true actually prove that the rule is always true? But yeah, thinking about which athletes would make the best kid. Here are my top nominees:

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Robert Swift– I’ve said it before, but the time Robert Swift showed up one day with two full tattoo sleeves was one of the most shocking moments in NBA history. He sucked but had prototypical NBA size. If he can pass down that size and his son learns the 2019 big man skill set, we could be looking at the ginger Porzingis. The biggest hurdle may be finding a willing partner.

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Matt Stafford– If you can’t imagine Matt Stafford, Jr. having a 6,000 yard season at Oklahoma State in 2042 then we just aren’t watching the same sport.

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Jim Furyk– Couldn’t tell you why, but I imagine Furyk’s son as a real mean outside linebacker.

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Malcolm Brogdon– I’m gonna go a different direction, here. Malcolm Brogdon’s daughter is going to be a five- or six-time WNBA All-Star (yeah, I saw Captain Marvel on International Women’s Day, nbd).

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Juan Pierre– Juan Pierre’s kids are going to be absolutely nasty at baseball. Just disgustingly filthy. A 50-50 season might be on the table.

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Tom Brady– Come on, you think Tom’s seed isn’t magic?

LeBron James is the Greatest Laker Hater of All Time

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I used to consider myself a premier Laker hater. I lived to despise the purple and gold. Every move they made had my blood boiling, every missed Kobe 19-footer filled me with glee, each championship threatened to shatter my psyche. As with most of my sports hatred, the vitriol eased with age. The Lakers got worse, Kobe slipped from an elite player to an overly confident pickup game chucker being paid like John Wall, gifs like these:

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went from infuriating to hilarious. Hating the Lakers just became less fun. Even now, with one of the greatest players of all time at the helm, they’re mostly an afterthought in the competitive balance of the Western Conference. But, luckily for all the natural born haters out there, one man has yet to give up the desire to see the Lakers fall: LeBron James.

I wouldn’t have guessed LeBron held such disdain for Showtime, but it’s pretty undeniable at this point. Just look at what he’s done the last few months: joins the Lakers without clarifying if it was a competitive move or a legacy move meant to set up the next stage of his life, resulting in a weird offseason of win-now signings without turning their talented young players into high-quality veterans, leading to a completely mismatched roster that had no shot from the start. Also from the start, he completely ignores and undermines coach Luke Walton, sabotaging a possible stabilizing voice the young core of players would need for the ensuing LeBron roller coaster. He gets hurt for the first time ever and spends every game on the bench drinking wine and publicly saying he didn’t care about the season and that he had nothing left to prove. Then his mouthpiece puppet childhood friend business partner agent Rich Paul says fellow client Anthony Davis wants out and, surprise! the Lakers are the preferred destination. Every single player on the roster is very publicly said to be expendable, killing chemistry and confidence at the same time. The trade deadline passes and they disastrously fail to acquire Davis and everyone acknowledges the Lakers aren’t doing anything this season. They continue to lose. LeBron says no one’s focused on basketball enough, even though he took a game off to record with 2 Chainz and he’s had the worst season of his career and he only signed with the Lakers to make Space Jam 2 and Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have carried the team recently, then immediately posts a graphic congratulating himself for his own achievements after an embarrassing loss to Memphis. This is some next-level grudge-keeping. I have no idea what the Lakers did to LeBron in his youth, but he clearly hasn’t forgotten it. This is the most destructive season I can ever remember a player having, and we still have twenty games to go. LeBron won’t rest until the very foundations of the Staples Center are demolished. No player is safe, no coach is safe. LeBron refuses to let the Lakers thrive or develop in any way, and for that, I am very thankful.

What Was More Impressive: the First Half of the Patriots’ Dynasty or the Second?

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Sorry, haters. Patriots won the Super Bowl yet again. Ho hum. The most unprecedented dynasty in the history of professional sports continues, making all of you losers sick. Please tell me how little you even care about football or how this represents evil winning or whatever it is the Deadspins of the world are saying today because they’re sick of their team not winning and have thus decided to paint the Patriots as a legitimately bad entity which is stupid and irresponsible but it’s okay because Tom Brady has a lot of money or something or about how no one actually counted them out or any other stupid hate you have in your heart. Give me all of it. It gives me strength. It gives me life knowing that your entire existence is made worse simply because Bill Belichick is smart enough to keep a roster together for 18 years. Oh, right, I forgot to add in to tell me about how they’re nefarious cheaters. That one definitely holds up if you spend ten seconds doing any research or free thinking whatsoever, you’re right. Whatever. Today isn’t about the sourpusses who are going to throw a party when all this theoretically ends but then realize how much they miss having them around after a few seasons of revolving doors of conference champions. Today is about the people who have been there from the beginning or even for those noble souls who, despite not being Patriots fans, have the brainpower to respect this dynasty. To them, I ask this question: was the first half of the run better, or was the second half better?

I suppose it’s a little disingenuous to divide it into two different periods since there’s really three. First was 2001-2007, where they won two Super Bowls, could have won five, and were unquestionably the best team in the league. Then there’s 2008-2013, where Brady got hurt, they had some weird years where they were kind of lost in the wild, momentarily had a revolutionary offense before another random Giants loss and a….high profile arrest, and were always just on the outside looking in. Then there’s 2014-now, where they’ve now won three Super Bowls and could have won two more in a different dimension. All in all, six Super Bowl victories in nine appearances and would have won two more in 2006 and 2013 if they hadn’t lost on the road in the AFC Championship game. It’s pure absurdity.

Anyway, 2001-2007 or 2014-now? 2001 was the first year I cared about football, so that season means a lot to me, and 2007 was my favorite team ever (too bad they canceled the Super Bowl that year). But the rest of those years are kind of hazy for me. I don’t remember a single thing from 2002 besides the Super Bowl, which did not involve the Patriots. 2003 and 2004 are kind of there, but not really. I have more memories from those episodes of America’s Game than the actual seasons. I don’t know why my brain has abandoned large portions of my adolescence, but it did. You could easily convince me 2005 never happened. The only thing I remember about 2006 is the AFC Championship Game. Reggie Wayne sort of fumbling the ball up into the air was the first time football ever momentarily killed me. Then 2007 gave me the worst night of my life. So from a personal level, this latest run was better and far more memorable. Was it better, though? It’s so hard to compare. Don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Patriots are constantly changing and adapting. Last night certainly reminded me of the old teams’ stifling defense, but I think their offensive prowess kind of gets underrated as the years go on. Their winning percentage is slightly better in this recent era, despite the fact that there’s, you know, an undefeated season mixed into the first one. I’m just gonna say this recent run is better. It’s been more fun and so much more satisfying as the haters run out of ground to stand on. I like grizzled Brady better, anyway. But hey, he kisses his kids on the mouth a little too late in their lives. So at least you’ve got that.

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Patriots Win Super Bowl 53

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What a game. What an all-time classic, unforgettable game. My beloved Patriots, champions of the National Football League once again.

Listen, this one’s a little subdued. When you see six of these, one of them’s gotta bring up the rear, and friends, this was it. The haters will say this game sucked, but we all know that true football dynasties are built on gross beautiful 10-3 defensive struggles. Brady showed up for a drive. Edelman unreal all game. Gronk (maybe) going out on top. Absolutely unreal game from the D. Stephon Gilmore needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame today. Dont’a Hightower is the best defensive player in Super Bowl history. R.I.P. Brian Flores era. It will be missed.

Whatever, I don’t care. Third title in the last five years, sixth in the last seventeen. What a team, what a run. Appreciate it, folks. We’ll never see it again. How did I ever get so lucky to see this whole thing? I’ll never know. What a life I lead. A champion straight out of the womb.