As the Patriots go into the Super Bowl against the Rams this Sunday, I decided to do a little writing exercise for my favorite football team. Throughout the years, the “Patriots haters” have tried to deride and insult the Patriots by comparing them to a certain despotic government in the Star Wars universe… The Galactic Empire…or as the phrase has evolved: “The Evil Empire”. So I decided to assign each Star Wars Imperial character to a person or player within the Patriots organization. You know… so there’s no confusion as to who’s who when you’re rooting against my squad this Sunday.
2019 Season Update:
For the first time in 10 years the Patriots are playing on opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs. For Patriots fans, this is terrifying for a number of reasons but number 1 is that it feels like this is the end… Since 2001, the Patriots have been my rock. I’m not a Red Sox fan and during the early 2000’s, the Celtics (my favorite team of all time) went from a middling playoff team to one of the worst in the NBA. However, during that time I could always count on the Patriots to be in the running for a super bowl. More often than not, they were in it; and 6 times they won it. This year started out so promising that I almost would have had to re-write the entire post below with a new cast of “Evil Empire” characters. Unfortunately, those players either couldn’t stick around *cough* Antonio Brown *cough* or were unceremoniously let go *sigh*… Josh Gordon. Even so, the Evil Empire is still in tact. Sheev Kraft Palpatine the diplomat, Emperor Belichick, Darth Brady and Grand Moff McDaniels still stalk the sidelines and owners box; stormtroopers still litter the field on both sides of the ball and Imperial Commander Edelman still strikes fear in opposing fighter pilots (er…cornerbacks). Boba Gronk is gone but it still seemed like the Empire had some punch left this season with a fleet of super star destroyer boogeymen roaming the defensive front to start the season. But as the season went on, the Evil Empire started to resemble the First Order more than it did it’s typically dominant, Galactic Empire self. The cracks began to show throughout the season and some losses to the Resistance/Rebels piled up. I don’t know where Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson fall in the Star Wars universe but in terms of this analogy, I can only see them as Jedi.
Now don’t mistake this post as me jumping off the Death Star. In the words of Grand Moff Tarkin: “evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.” As long as we got Belichick and Brady, I’ll be on the ship until the bitter end. The Patriots are still a primed and lethal weapon whether on board the original Death Star or Starkiller Base but the X-Wings are in the atmosphere and the Jedi are ready to board. I’m still confident in my squad, but I’m also being realistic when I say this year will be the toughest road the Patriots have faced yet. If we manage to come out on top and destroy the Jedi one more time though, ULTIMATE POWER will be ours. I expect the Pats to beat imperial defector Grand Admiral Vrabel (Hux?!) but the route will then go through (presumably) Patrick Mahomes Kenobi and Lamar Skywalker Jackson. I’m ready for the wars to come and I’m crossing my fingers Emperor Belichick has a couple more traps laying in wait. “Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side (Lamar Jackson)!” For once, the Evil Empire will have to rely on a little hope…
Coach Bill Belichick as Emperor Palpatine:
Besides the obvious physical similarities (HOODIE!!!), Belichick and Palpatine align with each other in some troubling ways. Ruthless, despotic and cold hearted; each leader is fearless in their decision-making and isn’t afraid to make the hard choice. Belichick’s game plan switches from game to game often taking away the opponents best weapon. In the rebellion against the Empire, Palpatine also sought to take away the rebels best weapon: Luke Skywalker. Emperor Belichick rules over his Patriots with an iron fist and it’s led to 9 Superbowls in 18 years. Coach Sheev Palpatine ruled the Galactic Empire similarly for two decades. The success speaks for itself with these two men even if their morals leave their personalities with something to be desired.
Tom Brady as Darth Vader:
First mates and steady hands, Tom Brady and Darth Vader are the cold and efficient fists of their chosen organizations. Tall, brooding and ruthlessly efficient, each man asserts his dominance over his chosen battlefield. As Belichick plucked Brady in the 6th round of the NFL draft, Palpatine handpicked Vader out of the Jedi ranks. Each man is setup for success and this led to a run of dominance with their chosen occupations. Vader quickly and efficiently eliminates Jedi knights and threats to the Empire just as Brady quickly and efficiently dispatches AFC challengers for the crown.
Josh McDaniels as Grand Moff Tarkin:
When Emperor Palpatine sought an officer to run his giant, cylindrical death-ship, he knew he needed the most brilliant military mind in his army: Grand Moff Tarkin. When Coach Belichick needed a coach to harness the offensive firepower of Tom Brady, he called on Josh McDaniels. Each man is a brilliant strategist willing to risk it all in battle. Tarkin was so confident in his ship’s “fully operational” capabilities that he risked an all-out assault on the enemy rebel planet knowing full-well they had the key to destroying him. McDaniels, like Belichick switches his gameplans up from week to week but he’s also not afraid of calling a big play: (click)
Bob Kraft as Senator (Prequels) Palpatine:
Prequels Palpatine was the face of the Republic, a shining example of what politics and hard work should look like. Bob Kraft embodies the spirit and soul of the Patriots more than anybody, just without the despotic tendencies. Kraft does hold a quiet confidence as well though in that he knows his team is better than yours. It’s almost as if a smirk is hiding behind his eyes, like the look young Sheev Palpatine gives as his Galactic Empire is built around him to “thunderous applause.”
Rob Gronkowski as Boba Fett:
Stone cold assassins, both men are elite at what they do yet both are criminally underrated and underused. Boba Fett is one of the coolest characters in Star Wars history yet he hardly speaks and is given an underwhelming death. Gronk is going to go down as one of the best tight ends in NFL history but he often speaks too much and his body is falling apart late in his career. However, each man is incredibly efficient and skilled in their chosen fields. Each is able to wield elite weaponry (Boba’s jetpack, suit modifications; Gronk’s catch radius, blocking ability). Each man is technically a foot soldier within the larger schemes of their organizations but they are memorable in specific and important ways.
The Running Back Corps as Stormtroopers:
Stormtroopers in the Galactic Empire serve numerous and varied functions. Some are used in snow operations, others in desert environments while others are your plain run-of-the-mill stormtrooper. Every year, the Patriots use anywhere from 2-5 different running backs. Like the stormtroopers, each back serves a specific function. Sony Michele, the every down back, is your standard stormtrooper: capable of running 100 yards or shooting down 100 rebels. James White is the speed/receiving back. He’s your sandtrooper. Swooping through the desert searching for holes in the defense and lost protocol droids. Finally, Rex Burkhead is your snowtrooper. Fighting in the snow is brutal and requires a power back like Burkhead who is adept at gaining that tough yard and also blowing up a frozen wall to get to a rebel control station.
Julian Edelman as Admiral Piett:
Vader/Brady’s first and most trusted officer/receiver who has survived under their superior even through numerous replacements. Both men are consistent and sturdy and get their chosen jobs completed. Piett is the one who ends up trapping Han Solo at Cloud City and Edelman does everything from running crisp routes to throwing touchdowns (see the McDaniels/Tarkin section). Both men are trusted by their organizations with incredible responsibility and both come through when needed most or die trying.
Drew Bledsoe as Count Dooku:
Poor Dooku and Bledsoe….both were seemingly destined for greatness. Dooku as the first hand man to a rising Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine and Drew Bledsoe as the starting quarterback for the eventual 2001 Superbowl Champion Patriots. Dooku gets decapitated by his replacement Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader), in front of his boss. Bledsoe gets hurt, gets replaced by his backup and loses his job to a 24 year old Tom Brady…
The rest is history….