It's no secret Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs doesn't like the New England Patriots. I stood in the tunnel of Gillette Stadium after January's AFC title game when Suggs yelled "have fun in the Pro Bowl" loud enough for everyone around the Patriots' locker room to hear.
But Suggs took his feelings a step further in a radio interview with WEEI in Boston on Wednesday. According to Suggs, "31 other teams hate the New England Patriots." That's a bold statement that would literally make New England the most hated team in the NFL.
Is Suggs correct in his assessment?
It's hard to accurately gauge Suggs' statement. However, New England does have some degree of an "evil empire" feel around the NFL. The anti-Patriots sentiment stems mostly from jealousy of New England's success and the no-nonsense personality of coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick is well-respected for being arguably the best coach in the NFL. But there are some things that draw ire among his peers. Too often Belichick runs up the score on opponents and keeps his starters in longer than necessary during blowouts. Belichick infamously ran up the score during the 2007 season after the Spygate scandal broke. Many saw it as Belichick’s way of firing back at the rest of the league.
Belichick also is tough on the media. Belichick does things his way regardless of what others think. When Belichick didn't do a postgame interview with CBS after losing to Baltimore in the AFC title game, CBS NFL analyst and Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe ripped Belichick.
"Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots," Sharpe said. "You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It is unacceptable."
There's also a sentiment that New England gets more than its share of calls due to things such as the "Tuck Rule" and the "Brady Rule," which Suggs mentioned on Wednesday.
“There was the whole invention of the Brady rule," Suggs explained. "Years before, I hit Drew Brees and I accidentally tore his knee up. No rule was made. Of all the quarterbacks in the NFL who got their knees blown out when they got hit -- Carson Palmer got his knee blown out -- but then one guy got hit and changed the whole rule for the NFL?"
The Patriots might be one of the most disliked teams in the NFL, but they're also one of the most successful. Suggs' comments should only add more motivation for New England to challenge Baltimore for the top spot in the AFC next season.