Ranking the Six Championship Teams
Since 2001, our professional teams have won six titles in their respective sports—three by the Patriots, two by the Red Sox and, of course, one by the Celtics. It’s a ridiculous accomplishment by any measure, and it has earned us a tremendous amount of antipathy from the rest of the sports world. Well, fine, that comes with the territory.
Besides, what do we care? We have six championships — all unique and special in their own right. But all championships are not created equal.
After the jump, the rankings.
1. 2004 Red Sox
No surprises here. We all know what the win did for the franchise, the region, and how we feel about ourselves. Joe Keohane, not exactly a sports fan, suggested to me that years from now historians will trace Boston’s fortunes back to that day in October when Keith Foulke stabbed Edgar Renteria’s comebacker and tossed it to Doug Mientkewicz at first. It’s still too big to really put into words, actually.
2. 2001-02 New England Patriots
In the wake of the Celtics triumph, a few people have been jumping the C’s over the first Pats championship team. I don’t think that will last. The 2001 Patriots introduced us to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It came completely by surprise and featured one of the greatest games ever played in any sport: The snow game against Oakland, which also happened to be the last game in Foxboro Stadium.
It ended with one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history and was also played against the backdrop of 9/11. That’s not something I take lightly, for a number of reasons, but the feeling was there in the Superdome that night, and it was real. The rest of the country can trample on the Pats success now if they wish, but they were clearly the people’s choice that night.
3. 2007-08 Celtics
The Celtics were dominant during the regular season, but if they had swept through the playoffs, would it have felt the same? Did they have to struggle for us to truly embrace them? The way the playoffs unfolded allowed us to really get to know them. We got to see the real KG and Ray Allen, obviously, but we also got to fully appreciate Paul Pierce, even though he had been here for a decade. The Celtics also offered us genuine folk heroes in Eddie House, James Posey, and PJ Brown.
Beyond basketball, the Celtics championship was fun. The whole city (and not just the office workers and the kids from the suburbs, either) came out for the parade on a perfect spring day and unified Boston in a way that I haven’t seen before. It was so much fun, the rest of the country didn’t even begrudge us this one.
4. 2004-05 Patriots
This is where it gets tricky. I have a feeling that if the Red Sox continue to win titles, their 2007 effort may grow in stature, but for now we’ll take the third of the Patriots triple crown. This was the one that conferred Dynasty status on the Pats, and it came against a great opponent in Philadelphia. This was the last Patriots championship team that Willie McGinest , Ty Law, Troy Brown, Ted Johnson, and Adam Vinatieri played on, and was also the last one with coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel.
The Patriots have been in their own highly-successful version of rebuilding ever since and, interestingly, they might have had the one team that could have knocked off the 2004 Red Sox if they had completed the unbeaten season. Key words being might have.
5. 2007 Red Sox
If 2004 felt like one giant party, 2007 felt like next weekend’s bash. Oh, it was still great, but it was different, a little more subdued. We pretty much expected them to come back against Cleveland, and we marveled at how steady and professional they were all year. When Manny made his famous “It’s not like it’s the end of the world” comments, ESPN and the like recoiled in horror. Meanwhile, we laughed and said, “You know, he’s got a point.”
As I mentioned in the previous ranking, if 2007 winds up as a starting point for an era of dominance for the Red Sox, it will move up the list.
6. 2003-04 Patriots
This one really is, as Mike Felger said the other night on Comcast, an underrated championship team. This was the team that started the year with a 31-0 loss to Buffalo and ended it with a 31-0 victory over Buffalo. There was the infamous, “They hate their coach,” comment from ESPN’s Tom Jackson, and the AFC Championship game win over the Colts when nobody outside of New England was picking them. Along the way they won 15 straight games to end the year and played in a completely crazy Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers.
In any other era this team would be right at the top, but these are the times we live in.
Got your own list? Let us know in the comments.