Understandably, scores of people across the nation are still in shock by the surprising outcome of the most recent Super Bowl. I know a lot of people are concerned about what this means for our country going forward. This has been a divisive season for sure, but now, more than ever, we need to come together. Whether you rooted for the New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons, or any of the other teams that clearly had no real shot at winning, the fact of the matter is the Patriots are the new Super Bowl champions. This is something we all need to come to terms with. Most importantly, it is not the time to let us be driven apart by our different football conference affiliations.

One of the more contentious issues is the fact that the Atlanta Falcons had many more fans supporting them than the Patriots did. It says a lot that the message of the Falcons resonated with so many people. I don’t want to take anything away from the Falcons organization or its fans, but as you know, this is not how the process to determine the Super Bowl champion is set up.

I know it can be confusing to understand, but the founding members of the National Football League foresaw this problem and put protections in place to ensure that uninformed fans would not select the wrong champion. That is why the outcome of each game is determined by a seemingly arbitrary points-based system. I know it can be confusing; after all, how many points are earned after scoring a touchdown? Technically six. But usually seven. Although sometimes it is eight.

Anyway, the specifics of the scoring system are not important. Just know that these safeguards are in place to protect us from ourselves.

One area where the Falcons had plenty of room for improvement was in their approach during the lead up to the Super Bowl. The Patriots put in a lot of work during the regular season, beating teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania — teams that were overlooked by many in the league. The fact that the Falcons thought they could simply show up in Texas having only made the bare minimum stops along the way truly demonstrates the shortsightedness of their overall strategy. The Patriots simply pulled off key victories in the states that mattered most.

A lot of people are still bringing up the leaked tapes from several years ago, arguing that the content contained on them was so reprehensible that it should’ve deemed the Patriots ineligible from ever winning another championship.

The reality of the situation, though, is that the tapes were a routine example of “locker room talk,” which all teams engage in. Several other teams were also videotaping coaches’ signals to discuss and analyze after every game, but the Patriots were the unfortunate ones to get caught, and were made an example of as a result. It honestly could’ve happened to any other team.

This whole “spygate” incident was very much overblown though. As members of the coaching staff, each and every person has an obligation to the fans to produce as many wins as possible. The Patriots were just doing everything they could in order to increase their chances of winning. If the rule makers didn’t want teams to tape each other, the policy should’ve been better enforced.

I’ll touch briefly on the “deflategate” scandal as well, but only because people can’t seem to let it go. Let me make this clear: the Patriots’ balls are not any less inflated than the balls of any other team. In fact, the Patriots’ balls are actually larger and more inflated than any other team in the league. I guarantee you there’s no problem.

People also need to stop jumping down Tom Brady’s throat about not releasing his cell phone statements as part of the investigation. He is in the middle of dealing with a billing issue with Verizon, and has been advised to not disclose any of his text messages or other account information until this has been resolved. He’ll be happy to oblige this request once he is able to do so.

To those who are participating in protests of the outcome or tweeting #NotMySuperBowlChampions, while I am impressed by your dedication, please know that these actions will only serve to further divide us. Some are praying for a Hail Mary that Roger Goodell will overturn the decision, but frankly that would be an unprecedented maneuver and is highly unlikely.

In closing, I will say that I did personally attend the victory parade in Boston, and it was truly inspiring. I know that the Super Bowl this year was ugly at times, but I’m very hopeful for what the future holds. In fact, I think many people have already begun to come around. For those of you still on the fence, please know that we are ready to welcome you, and that the borders of Patriots Nation are completely open.