The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. When the game kicks off Sunday night it will mark the franchise’s ninth appearance in the game, an NFL record.

How sweet would a victory over the Falcons be? How great would it be to be the champions of a league that spent the past two years persecuting New England for deflated footballs?

Quite simply, it would be one of the greatest championship seasons we’ve seen in this region in years. And we’ve seen a lot of them. With nine championships since 2001, Boston truly is the City of Champions.

Here is one man’s ranking of those nine championships:

1. 2004 Red Sox (swept St. Louis in World Series)

The team that reversed the curse is at the top of my list. The Red Sox overcame 86 years of frustration, not to mention a 3-0 series deficit against the mighty New York Yankees. Church bells rang, generations celebrated together and the franchise known for soul-crushing losses became known as a group of self-proclaimed “idiots” who didn’t know the Sox were supposed to choke.

2. 2001 Patriots (beat St. Louis 20-17 in Super Bowl)

The team that started it all. Boston teams hadn’t won a major pro championship since the 1986 Celtics. Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe during the season, and led the Pats to a 17-3 lead against St. Louis. “The Greatest Show on Turf” – a Rams offense led by Kurt Werner – countered with two late touchdowns to tie the game with 1:30 to go. That’s when the world got a look at the man who would become the greatest quarterback of all time as Brady marched the Pats down the field with no timeouts and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal to give the Patriots their first championship.

3. 2013 Red Sox (beat St. Louis in a six-game World Series)

The Sox weren’t the best team in baseball in 2013, but they won the franchise’s third title in 10 years and lifted a reeling city in the process. Still rocked by the Boston Marathon bombing in April, all of New England celebrated as the Sox won a World Series at home for the first time in 95 years. David Ortiz hit an iconic grand slam to rally the Sox against the Tigers in the ALCS, and Mike Napoli became a Boston legend with his shirtless appearances at parties around the city.

4. 2014 Patriots (beat Seattle 28-24 in Super Bowl)

The team that taught us all to “do your job” knocked off the Seahawks with an impressive second-half comeback. The Pats trailed by 10 in the third quarter, but rallied behind Brady once again. Malcolm Butler brought New Englanders to their feet with his clinching interception as Pete Carroll inexplicably called for a pass play with 0:26 left and the ball on the 1. It is still the highest-rated program in NBC history.

5. 2011 Bruins (beat Vancouver in seven games for the Stanley Cup)

The Bruins snapped a 39-year title drought with a memorable seven-game win in the Stanley Cup Final. Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and posted a shutout in a 4-0 Game 7 win in Vancouver that set off riots in British Columbia. Brad Marchand, the “Little Ball of Hate,” scored two goals in that final game and Lord Stanley’s Cup returned to Boston – where it spent much of the summer on a victory tour of bars throughout the city.

6. 2008 Celtics (beat Los Angeles in six games in NBA Finals)

The new “Big Three” of the Celtics – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen – brought the Celtics their first title since 1986. Banner No. 17 was engineered by Danny Ainge, who brought Garnett and Allen in to create a champion. The Celtics won 42 more games than the season before, got home-court advantage and brought confetti back to the Garden.

7. 2003 Patriots (beat Carolina 32-29 in Super Bowl)

The Patriots edged the Panthers in one of the best-played Super Bowls of all time. Brady and Panthers QB Jake Delhomme led the two offenses to a combined 868 yards and 61 points. For the second time in three years, Vinatieri kicked a field goal to win a championship with seconds remaining. Regrettably, Janet Jackson’s overexposed halftime show is what this Super Bowl has been best remembered by.

8. 2004 Patriots (beat Philadelphia 24-21 in Super Bowl)

The last team to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Brady established his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats as Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was vilified for losing his composure in the huddle as Philly tried to rally.

9. 2007 Red Sox (swept Colorado in World Series)

The forgotten middle child of Red Sox championships, this title established Terry Francona as one of the game’s best managers and established a young core of talent that would keep the Sox contending for their division title in the coming years.

The Pats, and New England, are hoping to make this a Top 10 list on Sunday. If Brady wins another, you can decide where that championship will rank.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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