http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070119 Excerpt: Consider how the Patriots are getting it done. They operate under a vexing salary cap and don't outspend everyone. They don't have any self-promoting a-holes doing sack dances or touchdown dances, they haven't been whistled for any substance abuse violations, and as far as I can recall, not a single Patriot filmed a commercial this season. Since 2001, they've gone 70-28 in the regular season and 12-1 in the playoffs drafting in the bottom half of the first round and avoiding any big-money free agent signings except for Rosevelt Colvin. They consistently find rookie sleepers, craft inspired game plans, excel in close games and thrive on doing the Little Things. Out of those 12 playoff wins, at least six left the other team muttering, "Dammit, how did we blow that game?" Only once did the Patriots ever return the favor. On paper, I'm not sure how they're still chugging along. Their star quarterback has been pounded like Mick Foley in his prime. Their lead running back probably couldn't outsprint Eddy Curry to a hot dog truck. Their best receiver was unemployed three months ago. They don't have a single gamebreaker on the offensive side. They don't start a single top-15 draft pick except for Richard Seymour, who doubles as their only Pro Bowler. Their linebacking corps is slower than a dial-up modem connection. Their defensive leader, Rodney Harrison, is fighting to return from knee and shoulder damage, and if you know anything about the guy, he'll probably be in there on Sunday. They have a rookie kicker and two backups playing the safety spots. This team has no business winning a championship -- none -- and they're two victories away from No. 4. Now here's where a slight dose of hypocrisy comes in. We spend so much time complaining about underachieving superstars, overpaid and overhyped players, incompetent GMs, rookie flops, dreadful officiating, troublemakers, thugs, players and coaches doing/saying dumb things, bad trades and signings, annoying announcers and writers, and overrated teams getting too much credit -- by the way, I do as much complaining and mocking as anyone, I'm not absolving myself here -- that I'm starting to wonder if we'll ever fully embrace a special team anymore. Are we too cynical? Are we too desperate to poke fun at everything? Has being a "fan" morphed into something else? Has the fan-sports dynamic started to become a little unhealthy?