BRUNSWICK

There is a time and place to admit when you were wrong.

Those that know me well realize pretty quickly that I am from Western Pennsylvania. Whether it is my accent that gives it away, or the fact that I have Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia all over my house and in my car, there are several ways to tell.

Even in my own home, when a Steelers game is on, I have my Terrible Towel in hand, waving when the Steelers do well.

My wife, kids and even our pets have come to realize that when dad is watching a Steelers game, it might be a good idea to stay clear, because I have been known to cheer loudly, and yell at the television when things go wrong.

I remember when my wife would take our young children from me during a game, fearful that I might jump up and spike one of them into the floor in a touchdown celebration.

Admit it fans, you’ve been there! Don’t judge!

The word “bandwagon” gets thrown around a lot. Right now in Atlanta, there are a lot of fans who have jumped on the Falcons’ “bandwagon,” saying they have been lifelong Atlanta Falcons fans.

Whether that is true or not, I will let you decide.

When my family and I first moved to Maine back in 2001, I had that very word, “bandwagon” in my head. See, prior to 2001, to me the New England Patriot fans were the ones that wore bags on their heads, never admitting that the Patriots were there team.

See, where I am from, whether the Steelers are good, bad or indifferent, we are always their fans. We yell at the television when they stink, boo at the stadium when they mess up and radio talk shows in Pittsburgh are flooded with calls about why this coach should be fired, or this quarterback should be sat or let go.

A lot of things changed in 2001 in New England. Suddenly, the Patriots had this rookie quarterback from Michigan, Tom Brady, helping his team earn win, after win, after win. Then came the postseason. Surely, the Patriots would be eliminated pretty quickly and all of Foxborough would fall silent, like usual come mid- January and into February as the New England snow piled up.

Instead, Brady and those young, naive Patriots were Super Bowl champions for the first time. Brady was the Super Bowl MVP, and those on the Patriot “bangwagon” came out in force.

I felt that New England Patriot fans were simply coming along for the ride, not really Patriot fans all of their lives, but willing to say they were because suddenly, the Patriots were a great team, Super Bowl champions.

There comes a time in every person’s life that you have to rethink your philosophy, realize that an organization, team, may be just that good.

On Sunday, the Patriots proved it again, rolling to a dominating 36-17 victory over the Steelers in front of their fans at Gillette Stadium.

For those counting, this is the ninth time that the New England Patriots have won the American Football Conference crown. No other team has done that, not even my Steelers, who have eight.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, the Patriots will face the Falcons in Houston with a chance to win a fifth Super Bowl. To be more specific, the union that is Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have the chance to win THEIR fifth Super Bowl title together.

I do have a comeback. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, right now two more than the Pats.

But really, does it matter? To me, this is no different than listening to radio talk show hosts fighting amongst themselves about who is the greatest quarterback right now, all-time, in his era.

As much as I love Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and before him Terry Bradshaw, and felt that I had the best head coach in the league in Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, they didn’t accomplish what Brady and Belichick have done together.

There, I said it. The Patriots, right now, are the best organization in the National Football League, hands down. As much as I want to say the Rooney family-owned Steelers are the greatest, right now, today, that is wrong.

Some will say, the Patriots are cheaters. Whether you believe Brady led the “Deflategate” controversy and deserved the four-game punishment that he received or not, there was no cheating on Sunday. New England’s 19-point pasting of the Steelers showed just how far ahead of the game the Patriots are.

Some have asked, “Will you be cheering for the Patriots in the Super Bowl?”

I say simply, “YES!”

The statement, “the greatest” is thrown around way too much for my liking. However, there are specific examples that I can use in this regard.

The late Muhammad Ali — the greatest. … Jesse Owens — the greatest. … Michael Jordan — the greatest. … Wayne Gretzky — the greatest.

There are others, I’m sure. But where does the 2001-2016 New England Patriots stack up in this conversation? Count them, 11 AFC title games in 16 years, four Super Bowl championships. If not for two losses to the New York Giants in the big game, the legacy of these great Patriot teams would certainly all ready by set.

Brady and Belichick are sure-fire Hall of Famers, unless the supposed cheating scandals serve an injustice here.

Each year, from the 1980s to recently, there seemed to be a former Pittsburgh Steeler great being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Those ceremonies always bring up great memories, from Franco Harris, Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Mel Blount, Jake Ham, Jack Lambert, Mike Webster, etc., to Jerome Bettis and Rod Woodson, I can say that I have shed a tear or two watching them give their speeches, accomplishing something that they probably dreamt about when they were little kids but never thought would happen.

Soon, former Patriot players will line up to give their speeches in Canton, Ohio, ready to take their place in the Hall. As a football fan, those from this great New England Patriots organization will be remembered, as they should be. Fans will let those memories flow, tears will fall and those of us lucky enough to visit Canton will walk slowly through, remembering the good times.

From a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, good luck on Feb. 5. I will be rooting for the Patriots. Question is, do you have room on that “bandwagon for someone whose preferred colors are black and gold?”

BOB CONN is The Times Record sports editor. He can be reached at [email protected]timesrecord.com.