In 1890, French polymath and theoretical physicist Henri Poincare' introduced what became known as the Poincare' Recurrence Theorem. In layman's terms, he posited the theory that complex systems will eventually return to a state arbitrarily close to their original state.
I bring this up not because I'm a big 19th century scientific philosophy buff or have any interest in knowing what Ergodic Theory and Sojourn Time are all about. But because I have more than a passing interest in the dynamical system known as the New England Patriots. And the Belichick Dynasty Recurrence Theorem. And seeing said Dynasty return to a state arbitrarily close to where it was in, say, 2014-18.
On the field, that's a work in progress, though they did just win 10 games and make the playoffs in a rebuilding year. Off the field, it is very close to wear it was at its peak. Allow me to show my work:
The NFLPA's website just released its list of Top 50 players in the sale of jerseys and other assorted merchandise:
For a record fifth time and second year in a row, Tom Brady wore the crown, followed by Patrick Mahomes II, on the year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List. The list reports sales of all officially licensed NFL player products from March 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022. …
Top 10 players among all officially licensed products sold:
- Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay
- Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Kansas City
- Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo
- Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati
- Mac Jones, QB, New England …
With nine rookies, it represents the most ever on a year-end list. This past season, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Ja’Marr Chase, Najee Harris, Micah Parsons, Trevor Lawrence, DeVonta Smith, Trey Lance and Zach Wilson were the most popular rookies at retail.
To add some detail, Fields was the only other rookie in the Top 10 at No.8. While playing in the biggest market in the NFL that isn't shared with another franchise. At No. 17, Rookie of the Year Chase was the only other first year player in the Top 20. Harris and Parsons play for two of the supposedly most dedicated fanbases in the league and came in at 22 and 28 respectively. And the No. 1 overall pick Lawrence - who's been universally proclaimed a generational quarterback - didn't crack the Top 30.
So what's the point? What do we takeaway from this data?
It's simply a reminder that everyone else was wrong and that I and every other Masshole were right. The whole world said we were going to lose interest once Brady left. That this Dynasty was going to crumble. Just become a dust-covered symbol of hubris like Ozymandias:
And decay into mediocrity and irrelevance like the Raiders and Broncos.
Worse still, Patriots fans who have been along for the ride for 20-plus years were going to keep their loyalty firmly attached to the GOAT, and it would leave whenever he left. That we'd all be outfitting our kids in Buccaneers merch and still naming our dogs "Brady." The first day the public was allowed into training camp in two years, the bleachers weren't full. And the Boston sports radio shows were literally calling it "The Brady Factor." I had a different name for it. I called it "The Wednesday and the Third Straight Day of Heavy Downpours Factor. By Friday and Saturday, it was SRO on the hill above the practice field once again.
Granted, there weren't a ton of Mac 10 jerseys. Not even at the one home preseason game. Because Jones was, by all logic, facing an uphill battle against Cam Newton for the starting job. But once Mac won the Palindrome War, it was game on. The most loyal, devoted and engaged fanbase in the league, selling out the Pats Pro Shop and flooding the online store en masse. To the point Jones moved product like a one-man Amazon. More than all but four players in the NFL, all of them established stars.
Which I guess establishes him as a star, if somehow you didn't think he was already. Believe it. This guy has only just begun, and already he's filling the GOAT-shaped hole in New England's heart. And the support for this empire Mr. Kraft and Belichick have built is not going to diminish in this lifetime or any other. Poincare' called it 130 years ago.