The League

Sean McCann
Beat Writer

Sean McCann

Former Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for Gannett

Hate not essential to rivalry

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Hatred is a by-product of a great rivalry, not an essential ingredient.

The Colts and Patriots already have a terrific rivalry, not because they hate each other but because they divvied up history together.

These days, there isn't much dislike -- let alone hatred -- between NFL locker rooms anyway. The media plays up certain one-on-one matchups -- Strahan v. Runyan springs to mind -- while the players themselves look on in amusement, laughing about it as they vacation together in the offseason.

Hatred is for the fans.

If the question is about that next level of rivalry, and if hatred will get the Colts and Patriots there, the answer remains no.

Only more dramatic clashes and more Super Bowl wins will enrich this pairing's legacy, and to reach that highest level, both teams will need to continue to win after Peyton Manning and Tom Brady retire.

The greatest pairings in sports history -- Duke/North Carolina, Red Sox/Yankees, Celtics/Lakers, Ali/Frazier, and so on -- were made with a combination of longevity, championship, geography and larger-than-life personality. The Colts/Patriots rivalry will never have compelling geography on its side, and only more winning will make up the difference.

By Sean McCann  |  November 13, 2009; 11:29 AM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , New England Patriots , Peyton Manning , Tom Brady Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Rivalries can be created in a short amount of time--look how quickly the Redskins developed a rivalry with the Cowboys, who joined the NFL almost 30 years after the Redskins. But there has to be some "X Factor" at work, even if it doesn't qualify as hatred.

George Allen and Tom Landry were naturally great rivals, and their teams reflected that. Green Bay and Chicago is mostly a geographic rivalry, since the teams never had that many memorable games over the decades. Patriots/Dolphins was based on a number of great games in the '70s and '80s, which developed into something more personal both among players and fans.

The NFL really screwed up a number of budding rivalries when it realigned in 2002. The Jaguars and Steelers (and Titans and Steelers) all had some brutal games against each other and were developing rivalries, but the creation of the AFC South screwed that up.

Posted by: acoberst1 | November 13, 2009 5:35 PM

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