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The Mailbag: All-Patriots Edition

Should the Pats trade Gronk? What was Tom Brady’s greatest playoff game? And how should Brady handle Roger Goodell if he beats Atlanta?

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

I have very few rules in life, but here’s one of them: if the Patriots make their seventh Super Bowl with the same quarterback and the same coach, I have to write an all-Patriots mailbag. Send future questions to As always, these are actual questions from actual readers.

Q: If the Patriots win the Super Bowl without Gronk, does it scare you that Belichick will realize that he doesn’t need Gronk to win a Super Bowl? What team would benefit most from a Gronk trade?
— Wally J., Temecula, Calif.

BS: You’re basically asking me, "What do you think you can get for your son in a trade?" My all-time favorite Patriots list: Brady, then Gronk, then a steep drop-off, then Willie McGinest, Troy Brown, Ben Coates, Sam Bam Cunningham, Stanley Morgan, 2007 Randy Moss, Andre Tippett, Ty Law, Adam Vinatieri, Julian Edelman (narrowly edging Wes Welker), and Mike Haynes. But only two Patriots ever kept me riveted play after play after play the same way that, say, Bird or Pedro did — Moss in 2007 and Gronk anytime he was healthy. Best tight end I ever saw.

But we know Belichick by now. He doesn’t care what you think about his clothes or his hair. He doesn’t care if your notebook is missing a few quotes. He doesn’t care what you yelled on TV or radio about him, and he certainly doesn’t care what you think about his picks or trades. He cut ties with the following stars too early (seemingly) instead of too late: Drew Bledsoe, Law, Lawyer Milloy, McGinest, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Moss, Welker, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Darrelle Revis, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, even Vinatieri (and he was wrong on that one). Only Troy Brown got to stick around too long; Belichick probably regrets it. He doesn’t value past performance in any way, shape or form. And everyone who plays for him knows it.

So here’s Gronk: 78 career touchdowns, three first-team All-Pros, only 27 years old, favorable contract, on pace to become the best tight end ever … only he has three back surgeries, one torn ACL, a broken arm, a nasty high ankle sprain, one concussion (that we know of), and God knows what else on his red-flag résumé. Since September 2012, Gronk has missed 24 regular-season games and three different postseasons (counting 2012, when he barely played in the Texans game and missed Round 2’s loss to Baltimore). They made Super Bowl 51 without him. And let’s just say that Gronk’s family doesn’t exactly have a warm and fuzzy relationship with the Patriots.

As always with Belichick, he will decide on Gronk’s future in his typically ruthless way: Would the incoming trade asset be worth more than Gronk going forward? If someone offers and overpays, Gronk is gone. That’s just how Belichick rolls.

Which NFL team would overpay for Gronk? If he’s totally healthy … lots of them. If he’s almost definitely healthy, that list shrinks to Teams That Need to Make a Splash. Guess who loves trading with franchises that need to make a splash. William Stephen Belichick. The 2017 Rams and 2017 Chargers need to make a splash in a city that never wanted them. The Rams can’t say, "Here’s Year 2 of the team you ignored last year!" And the Chargers can’t say, "Here’s Phil Rivers and Joey Bosa!" But either of them could say, "Here’s Gronk!" Seriously … Gronk in L.A.??? We’d have to dump the Tyson Zone and the Trump Zone for the Gronk Zone.

Did you hear Gronk bought the 90210 House in Hermosa Beach? Did you hear Gronk is dating Kris Jenner even though she’s 34 years older than him? Did you hear Gronk got added to the cast of Fast & Furious 9? Did you hear porn star Riley Reid crashed the Gronk Cruise’s yacht into a rock off the coast of Catalina?

Sadly, the Rams traded their next 17 drafts for Jared Goff (or maybe it just feels that way). But if Belichick offers an almost definitely healthy Gronk to San Diego for Hunter Henry and a second-round pick, what happens? Wouldn’t that be a classic Belichick trade? And doesn’t L.A. feel like Gronk’s manifest destiny? I’m already dreading it. I would never, ever, ever trade Gronk. But that’s one of 29,345 reasons why I never could have built a 16-year football dynasty.

Q: The Browns have the first and 12th picks. Let’s say the Pats beat Atlanta. Do they offer Jimmy Garoppolo and Gronk for those two picks? Would the Browns do it? Would Belichick?
— Steve J., Scituate, Mass.

BS: Even Cleveland isn’t that stupid — and remember, Cleveland IS stupid. But it’s a weak quarterback draft and an even weaker free-agent class. Could you take Myles Garrett first, trade no. 12 for Jimmy, splurge on your offensive line and finally turn things around? If Jimmy panned out, doesn’t that exceed anything you’d get at no. 12? And how else would you find a QB?

Figure Brady, Rodgers, Luck, Ryan, Newton, Prescott, Wilson, Carr, and Stafford are unequivocally off the table. That’s nine guys.

Take Brees, Eli, Roethlisberger and Rivers off out of respect. That’s 13.

Take Jameis, Wentz and Mariota off for their collective potential — that’s 16.

Now we’re hitting that dicey Cousins/Dalton/Smith/Flacco/Tyrod Taylor level, and once you run through those dudes, there’s Ryan Tannehill and Sam Bradford (sorry, Minnesota), and then there’s whatever Jared Goff is. That leaves us with EIGHT teams staring at the likes of Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick. By all accounts, there isn’t a single sure-thing QB in the 2017 draft (or free agency). You know what that tells me? The Patriots are getting a first-rounder for Jimmy. We’ll know how much Belichick likes Jimmy depending where he sends him — if he steers him to a possible AFC rival like Houston or Buffalo, then deep down, he doesn’t believe. (As we found out with Bledsoe in Buffalo.) If he sends Jimmy to a hapless franchise like Cleveland or San Francisco? Then he doesn’t want Jimmy to haunt him anytime soon. Stay tuned.

(PS: Imagine if Belichick wins the Super Bowl, then flips two guys who never played a down in the postseason — Gronk and Jimmy — into more high draft picks. Wouldn’t that be Belichick’s wet football dream? That might keep him coaching until he’s 90. Seriously.)

Q: I asked you this in your old mailbag, so I thought it would be good to start the tradition again at The Ringer. You famously once noted that for Patriots fans, the Super Bowl halftime music reflected our feelings about the game. For example, U2’s "Beautiful Day" was perfect for the Rams upset, but the horror-show loss to the Giants was summarized by Tom Petty’s "Free Fallin’." What song will Lady Gaga play that might represent this year’s game against the Falcons?
— Dave B, San Francisco

BS: Every Brady-Belichick Super Bowl had a halftime-show moment as its proxy — not just "Beautiful Day" and "Free Fallin’" but the Panthers game (Nipple-gate, just as crazy as the second half), the Eagles game (Paul McCartney’s "Live and Let Die," which summarized the toxic mood of the Eagles fans), and the Seahawks game (the Left Shark going rogue during Katy Perry’s performance, which foreshadowed a big fourth-quarter screw-up coming). You’re right, I reached on the Perry and McCartney ones. But the next reader has Dave B’s answer…

Q: As a Pats fan, what is our best- and worst-case scenario for a song from Gaga? My dream and nightmare is for her to do "Telephone," with full props to mimic Brady destroying his phone and texts to the deflator. I want him to have one more reason to drop FU mode for the final time. It’s also my nightmare because it might lead to a live look of Goodell in the middle of autoerotic asphyxiation, and I can’t un-see that.
— Ted M

BS: Perfect! Call off the hunt! We’ve found our ideal Super Bowl 51 scenario. Please, Lady Gaga, I’m begging you … put a Brady jersey on and mimic him destroying his phone during "Telephone." We need any edge we can get. Speaking of Goodell …

Q: Would you rather see the Pats win the Super Bowl or lose it thanks to a series of late calls so egregious that they expose a rigged officiating scandal that goes all the way to the top, forcing Goodell to resign in disgrace? Atlanta "officially" keeps its asterisk title, but Brady and the 2016–17 Patriots go down in history as the team so good they broke The Shield and vanquished the most corrupt commissioner in professional sports.
— Pierce, East Hampton, N.Y.

BS: Super Bowl 100 times out of 100. The Patriots already got their revenge against Goodell — he took their first-round pick and suspended their QB for four games, with no real evidence whatsoever, and they’re STILL favored to win the Super Bowl. And Goodell came off like a vindictive, power-hungry, favor-dealing, crony-protecting bully who refused to do the right thing even after he didn’t have any other recourse. Does anyone take Goodell’s sheriff routine seriously anymore? He’s like Gary Bettman with a better haircut — and yet, even Bettman would have had the balls to come to a home Patriots game. If the Pats beat Atlanta and lead to the delightful scenario of Goodell handing Bob Kraft the Lombardi Trophy, how could this play out any better? (And also, Kraft’s ensuing speech would be the sixth or seventh most exciting moment in Patriots history. Anything’s possible.)

Q: How terrified are you of Goodell’s influence on the nuances and close calls that will inevitably determine the winner of Super Bowl 51?
— Joey, Toronto

BS: Too much money at stake. Besides, Goodell might believe a Patriots victory closes the Deflategate book; he might be rooting for them so the whole debacle finally goes away. Just know that no Patriots fan will ever forgive him. He’s up there (or down there) with Bill Laimbeer, Jack Tatum, Jack Hamilton, Ulf Samuelsson, Bernard Karmell Pollard and anyone else who Boston fans conditioned themselves to despise for life (whether they deserved it or not). It’s never changing.

Q: Hmmm … An aging superstar has rules stacked against him by cowardly tycoons in a league designed to suppress individuality and advance an economic agenda. Where have we seen this before? Rollerball (1975, not the God-forsaken sequel)! How about some Rollerball/Super Bowl parallels?!?!
— John

BS: Put it this way: Rollerball came out 42 years ago and never felt more relevant than it did this season. Jonathan! Jonathan! Jonathan!

Q: Was the Brady suspension a good thing? Who wouldn’t rest their 39-year-old QB for the first four games in September when teams are still figuring things out?
— Adam, Ottawa, Ontario

Q: Is there any reason Tom Brady should play a full 16 games ever again? The Pats can start mediocre QBs in easy September games, boost their stock and then flip them for good draft picks like the A’s do with closers.
— Matt, Chicago

BS: It’s the Clemens/Astros strategy, right? If you have the right backup, why not? You need Brady for only four months (October through the first week of February), and you need only 11 wins to take the AFC East assuming things keep going like they have since 2003 (a fairly safe bet, even if Miami might make a jump). You could never admit that you did it; you’d have to pretend Brady pulled a calf muscle or something. But why put the miles on him?

Q: Where would the Patriots winning and Brady taking the mic at the postgame interview and saying, "Hey, Roger, why don’t you check these balls?" rank on the vengeance scale? You at least have one neutral fan rooting for you guys.
— Josh, Houston

BS: My top-four draft picks for a Brady podium barb that he’d never actually say:

1. "What’s the matter, Roger? You look a little deflated!"

2. "This trophy was too big to shove up Roger’s ass, so I could only do it figuratively."

3. "Hey, Roger, why don’t you check THESE balls!" [Grabs his nuts.]

4. "It’s an honor to be standing on this podium with all these great people … and Roger Goodell."

Q: He wants to cover up any science that will hurt the bottom lines of his cronies. He wields power to suspend his subordinates with an iron fist. He has seemingly no moral compass, but says he’s doing it all in the name of some abstract, bullshit, overarching goal with a catchy slogan. His hair always looks the same. Who am I talking about?
— Jake, Knoxville

BS: I need more clues.

Q: In your honest opinion, how long do you think Brady will keep playing?
— Daniel, Methuen, Mass.

BS: Forty-three years old. Four more years. Unless he gets hurt. Brady’s entire life, from the moment he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep (usually super-early), is designed for him to excel at football. Every workout, every meal, every drink, every nap, everything. But one injury throws that off, as we found out when Kobe tore his Achilles a few years ago. It’s not just the injury itself; it’s the inability to stave off Father Time with strenuous workouts day after day after day. You fall off that hamster wheel and everything falls apart. Wait, why are we talking about this???? DELETE PARAGRAPH!!!

Q: Of New England’s nine Super Bowl opponents, where would you rank the Falcons in terms of how afraid you are of them?
— Rob, New York

BS: I’d have them ranked third, way-way-way-way behind the ’85 Bears, behind the ’96 Packers, but ahead of the ’01 Rams and ’14 Seahawks. Deep down, I knew the Pats were in trouble against the Bears and Packers. But I picked them to beat the ’01 Rams (Pats 24, Rams 23), wagered on New England’s money line, bought into the patriotic parallels of Rams-Pats and Super Bowl XXV (Bills-Giants), the whole thing. I really believed. This Falcons game? Feels like a coin flip. I can’t understand emails like this one …

Q: Are the Falcons anything other more than a speed bump for the Patriots? Atlanta was forced to use their last reserve of mojo to overcome Dwight Howard cursing them before the NFC championship game, then shellacked a depleted Packers team Holmes-vs.-Ali-style — and now they have to face an angry, chemistry-laden Patriots team that’s on a quest to give the ultimate eff-you to Goodell. It’s not fair! Does ANYTHING about this Falcons team’s story feel like that of a Super Bowl champion, as opposed to a destined-to-be-forgotten footnote to B&B’s last hurrah?
— Adrian, Atlanta

BS: News flash: Atlanta is REALLY good. Tons of speed on both sides, multiple big-play guys, terrific indoors, hot QB, smart coaching staff … shit, even Atlanta’s "story line" works. Julio Jones as this generation’s Rice/Moss/Megatron? Matt Ryan going against his mentor? Last year of the Georgia Dome? Atlanta sports/culture renaissance led by the FX show, Gucci Mane’s triumphant return from prison, Matty Ice and everyone else? All the Atlanta celebs dominating social media for the next 10 days? The real possibility that this would be The Greatest Moment in Atlanta Sports History, replacing … I mean, is there even a Greatest Moment in Atlanta Sports History?

Anyway, I love the spread: New England by 3. Totally fair. Brady against Matt Ryan … that’s worth a field goal. Everything else is even. (Nice try with the reverse jinx, Adrian.)

Q: Thanks for writing those 2 paragraphs about the Falcons — I was worried this All-Pats Mailbag was a worse idea than the column you wrote comparing the 2007 Pats to the 1986 Celtics before Super Bowl 42.
— Text from my Dad, probably 20 minutes from now

BS: I obeyed all jinxing rules. Check this out:

Longest QB run, same team: Brady, 17 years; Rivers, Manning, Roethlisberger, Romo, 13 years; Rodgers, 12 years; Brees, 11 years.

Longest coaching run, same team: Belichick, 17 years; Lewis, 14 years; McCarthy, Payton, 11 years; Tomlin, 10 years.

How does that not deserve a special mailbag? Will we ever see another QB and coach last for two decades together? ("Not if I can help it," mutters Aaron Rodgers.)

Q: What is the percentage of America rooting for the Falcons in the Super Bowl? Is it the entire population minus all of New England, minus that douchebag everyone knows who roots for Tom Brady/the Yankees/the Lakers (you know they exist, and you know you hate them)?
— Jeremy, Atlanta

BS: Don’t talk about President Trump that way! You also forgot Saints fans — or, you intentionally forgot them and wanted to piss them off (and it worked).

Q: The Colts fired Ryan Grigson and every fan’s (including this one) and player’s reaction was more or less, "finally, thank God." As a Pats fan, do you view this as karmic retribution for the man who more or less started Deflategate? Or are you concerned that Andrew Luck might start living up to his potential now without a comically incompetent GM?
— Lee in Richmond, Va.

BS: Are you kidding? The Patriots should retire Grigson’s number. What an asset for us! He ruined at least two Luck seasons, kept the Colts from evolving into a legitimate AFC threat, crippled them for next season, and helped inject the latter stages of the Brady era with that galvanizing eff-you edge it always needed. I’m definitely going back to New England for Ryan Grigson Day next season. Ryan Grigson is a Boston hero.

Q: This was all I needed as an Indy sports fan. Happy belated 10-year anniversary. You never talk about this loss, right?
— Derek, Indianapolis

BS: I deserved that. (God, I hate that game.)

Q: Did Brady throw subtle shade at Aaron Rodgers by blowing kisses to his family during his interview following the AFC championship game? How many talking heads were placing Rodgers in the GOAT conversation this month? Meanwhile, Brady is heading to his SEVENTH Super Bowl. I’m sure he couldn’t help himself by alluding to the Rodgers family situation.
— Steven Ballew, Staten Island


Q: Does Belichick ever think to himself, "I wish Tom would retire so I can win one without him"? A guy as maniacal and competitive as Belichick has to have thought about it, right?
— Phillip B, OC via Chicago

BS: Belichick wants a record five Super Bowls. Brady gives him the best chance, so right now, he’s riding Brady. Once Brady slows down, Belichick will jump on another horse. And if he can’t find the right horse, he’ll retire. He’s a history buff. Just look at the media choices Belichick made over the years: He allowed David Halberstam to write a biography; he allowed author Michael Holley to document two seasons behind the scenes; and he allowed NFL Films to make the Bill Belichick: A Football Life and Do Your Job documentaries. You allow those projects if, deep down, you actually care about your place in football history. He cares about Super Bowls — that’s it. He doesn’t care if he wins with Tom Brady or Tom Hardy.

(And by the way, he could probably go 9–7 with Tom Hardy. He went 11–5 with Matt Cassel!)

Q: I read something about Super Bowl 51 referee Carl Cheffers that makes me worried about the curse of Bernard Karmell Pollard. Did you know Cheffers’s first game as a referee was 2008, Week 1, Kansas City at New England?
— Mike, Detroit

BS: Did you know that after I slam my head against my desk seven straight times I can see black splotches?

Q: We can all agree, Tom Brady’s no. 12, Armstrong’s no. 78, and Bruschi’s no. 54 will forever be synonymous with the man. But what about no. 11? When we eventually look back, who will mean more, Bledsoe or Edelman?
— Steve Anthony

BS: It’s still Bledsoe, even if there’s a strong whiff of Edelman on that no. 11 jersey. The Patriots almost left in the 1990s. They were halfway out the door. Kraft, Parcells and Bledsoe saved the franchise. (Of course, if Edelman throws up another monster performance in SB 51 …)

Q: Can someone explain to NFL coaches that they must have a different and proactive game plan to play the Patriots? Belichick knows what you are good at. He knows! Let’s not waste time "establishing the run" and "getting to our game." Check the record books; it doesn’t work. Doing what you always do DOES NOT WORK. I know you don’t talk about this because you don’t want the other coaches to figure out his trick of "planning" and "adapting," but why don’t any respectable journalists cover this?
— Jordan, Pittsburgh (sour grapes)

BS: And since we’re here, let’s ban talking heads (I include myself) from saying, "Bill Belichick loves to take the other team’s best weapon away and make OTHER PLAYERS beat him." It’s like saying, "Steph Curry loves to shoot the THREE-POINT SHOT." We all watch football. We get it. He’s double-teaming Julio Jones and making everyone else beat him. We know.

Q: I fancy myself as the biggest NFL fan on the planet and have followed it since my childhood. The ’85 season is one of my earliest memories of following football. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?
— Russell Bowman

BS: I know what that is. I’m not clicking on it. You can’t make me. It’s like "The Super Bowl Shuffle" after a car crash.

Q: Super Bowl 51 features two great air-it-out offenses that have been helped by changes in passing/tackling/coverage rules, as you know. Why haven’t crotchety old NFL players complained about the new style of play like old NBA players complain about the new barrage of 3-pointers? Or are all the retired NFL players too woozy from having played 10 seasons using plastic construction hats as helmets to notice how much the game has changed?
— Jon, Cambridge, Mass.

BS: (Afraid to say anything.)

Q: Time machine trade: The Bulls are willing to trade you the careers of Michael Jordan and his coach Phil Jackson to the Celtics. In return, the Patriots trade the careers of Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick to the Bears. Do you make this trade?
— Jon K.

BS: You’re asking me to trade nearly two decades of Brady (the best career of any QB ever) and Belichick (the best coach ever) — along with seven Super Bowl trips, a 196–60 regular-season record and 24–9 playoff record, and anything else that might happen from 2017 on — for only 12-plus Chicago seasons of MJ (the best NBA player ever), nine seasons of Jackson (one of the four best coaches ever) and six Finals trips? Why would I do that? You’d have to throw in the ’85 Bears.

Q: Thank you so much for the mailbag revival. Will Boston fans ever love an athlete like this again? As much as we adore David Ortiz, it’s just not the same. My brother and I sweat with anxiety every week knowing the end is near and appreciating every second we get to watch Tom Brady play. We live in the south now and everyone thinks we’re certifiably insane bordering on obsessive. I’m not sure there’s enough Xanax to get me through next Sunday.
— Meg B.

BS: It’s like sitting at a red-hot blackjack table and knowing there’s an unfavorable dealer change, only we’ve spent the last 15 years at the table. I’m on an ongoing email thread with a few Patriots fan buddies, and every once in a while, another team does something atrocious and one of us will invariably make the "That’s gonna be us after Brady and Belichick leave" joke. Because it’s true. They’re going to leave, and the Patriots are almost definitely going to suck. For God knows how long.

Q: On your recent pod with Bill Burr, you talked about how in the pre-Boston-sports-domination era, you always had to end up rooting for the team that plays your rival in the final (because your teams sucked). Welcome to my life as a 28-year-old Bills fan. Seventeen years and counting of no playoffs and nothing but Brady/Belichick. Fuck me. I’ve rooted for every team in the NFL since 2001, solely because that’s who the Pats were playing. I knew exactly what Burr meant when he talked about all we can do is make personal insults toward the Pats. TOM BRADY SITS WHEN HE PEES, WEARS UGGS, LIKES DILDOS, and LET’S GO FALCONS!
— Ryan Martineau

BS: (As I was saying.)

Q: You said on Monday’s podcast that Brady played the best playoff game of his career on Sunday against Pittsburgh. If that gets the gold medal, what wins silver and bronze?
— Bobby S.

BS: Bad news — I already changed my mind about Sunday being Brady’s playoff apex. (We’ll get to that.) But to answer your question, let’s cross off any cream-puff matchup (Tebow’s Broncos, Pennington’s Jets, etc.), concentrate on degree of difficulty, and acknowledge four Honorable Mention games: Super Bowl 38 (354 yards, three TDs, set up game-winning field goal, but threw a horrific fourth-quarter end zone pick that allowed Carolina to come back); the 2005 AFC title game at Pittsburgh (fantastic 60-yard TD to Deion Branch, jumped out to a 24–3 halftime lead, cruise-controlled the second half); and the Snow Game against Oakland (pulling off three season-saving drives in a blizzard, including the one in which the tuck rule was INTERPRETED CORRECTLY).

Bronze Medal: January 2015, New England 35, Baltimore 31 — A pull-it-out-of-their-butts comeback highlighted by a signature touchdown thrown by … Julian Edelman? (You know, the wide receiver pass that Belichick had been setting up for 12 solid years?) But Brady finished with 367 yards, three passing TDs, and a touchdown scamper in freezing weather against a feisty Ravens defense. The three most endearing Brady-at-home playoff wins: this one, the Snow Game, and the Cut That Meat Game (against Peyton in January 2005); by far, Brady played the best in this one. Bonus points because we’ve never had a better or more timely rendition of The Outfield’s "Your Love" — which Patriots fans ripped off not once but TWICE right before Baltimore’s crucial fourth-and-3.

Silver Medal: January 2017, New England — Brady’s only flawless start-to-finish performance against (what seemed to be) a good opponent. 384 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers, and multiple gorgeous throws in three quarters? At age 39? My only nitpick: Pittsburgh stupidly played zone, never really pressured him and looked about as sloppy as Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live camerawork. It’s like they never watched tape of any defense that flustered Brady over the years. Sticking with zone against Brady would be like the Celtics defending LeBron with Isaiah Thomas. It’s a suicide mission.

Gold Medal: February 2015, New England 28, Seattle 24 — Down 10 in the fourth quarter, Brady (328 yards, four TDs, two picks) pulls off two straight scoring drives to set up New England’s fourth title (and Malcolm Butler’s miraculous interception). Additional stakes: Brady avoided three straight Super Bowl losses, grabbed GOAT status from Manning, prevented back-to-back Seattle titles, carved up one of the 21st century’s most acclaimed secondaries, and saved himself from an offseason of "Brady can’t win unless he deflates the footballs!" bullshit (remember, Deflategate had launched two weeks earlier). Oh, and he tied Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana with four rings. Other than that, no biggie.

Q: Would this be the Patriots’ Desert Island Title? The Spurs won five titles in my lifetime and their Desert Island is easily 2014 for the sense of vindication alone. There’s a strong correlation between the revenge factor and being a Desert Island Title, so this would have to be the one if the Patriots pulled it off, right?
— Jacob C, Austin, Texas

BS: But isn’t that the Seahawks Super Bowl? What was better than avenging the dawn of Deflategate by rallying back from 10 down, surviving Helmet Catch 2.0 (Jermaine Kearse’s crazy catch) and winning on one of the NFL’s most famous defensive plays ever (Butler’s pick)? What about Brady’s finest playoff game coinciding with Belichick’s finest coaching moment — when he studied the chaos on Seattle’s sideline, pocketed his timeouts, rolled the dice, and Jedi mind-tricked Pete Carroll into throwing the wrong slant against the wrong defense? We’re topping that? I can’t bring that game to the Desert Island and be done?

Q: There’s Edelman and Amendola, but who is the third man? Here’s Chris Hogan, but whose side is he on? GOOD GOD, HOGAN IS THE THIRD MAN! Do you think Bill would mind if your new star receiver grew a goofy goatee, dyed a black streak in, and entered the Super Bowl to "Voodoo Child"? I’m all for Hollywood Chris Hogan. P.S. I think I would pay like $3,000 to see him and Tom Savage on the same team. Until he gets those jealous eyes, Ooooooh yeah!
— Marty

BS: That’s an early favorite for 2017’s Mailbag Question of the Year. Also, I think we’re in range.

Q: This is the first Mike Piekarski of the January 13 mailbag (and two prior mailbag appearances) responding to the second Mike Piekarski from the most recent mailbag. While I am delighted to know that there is another Mike Piekarski who is a Bill Simmons fan, frankly this other Mike Piekarski sounds like a bit of a wuss. Bill — I appreciate you not specifying his location either, therefore leaving open the question of whether that Mike Piekarski was the Fraser ejaculate mailbag question one. Until now. Please let it be known that I, Mike Piekarski, of Metuchen, New Jersey, am the original Mike Piekarski who wrote in about the Brendan Fraser ejaculate scene on The Affair. Thanks, keep up the great work, Bill.
— The Original Mike Piekarski, Metuchen, N.J.

BS: Noted. Getting closer …

Q: This makes three of us. Since the other Mike Piekarskis got love in previous mailbags, I’d like to use your mailbag forum to clear up a nasty rumor. Back in my Army days, during a round of drinking and storytelling, I spun an outlandish yarn that involved me fingering my aunt’s border collie when I was 13 years old. Of course, even though nothing in the ENTIRE TALE was true, I ended up with the nickname Dog Knuckle. Yeah, let that sink in. Left the military for civilian life a few years back, and somehow the dog knuckle rumor has now shown up in my workplace. So just to get the truth out there, I, Michael Piekarksi, never fingered a border collie. Not even once.
— Mike Piekarski, Texas

BS: Yup, these are my readers.