No one can really or accurately pinpoint when it all starts to crumble.
It just happens, piece by piece and domino after domino, the roof slowly caves in and the gig is up.
The latest "bombshell" story on the fate of the New England Patriots, while equal parts shocking, laughable and even disappointing, is not an original tale when it comes to powerful sports teams that get way too big for their own good.
For those of you just turning on the internet this morning, ESPN published a piece overnight that is sure to get all the attention you might otherwise have used on silly things like the size of someone's button, instead focused on sillier things like football's latest and greatest legacy beginning to see its demise.
According to the piece, Tom Brady may well have orchestrated the trade which sent backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. The story, by Seth Wickersham, which can be found here, goes into some detail about Brady's supposed desire to have Garoppolo traded.
The two quarterbacks were friendly, but Brady -- like Joe Montana to Steve Young and Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers -- didn't see it as his role to advise Garoppolo, even on matters as trivial as footwork, as nobody had helped him during his climb. Garoppolo played well in 2016, starting in place of the suspended Brady, and (Bill) Belichick began to see Garoppolo as the final piece of his legacy, to walk away in a few years with the Patriots secure at quarterback.
As referenced in the quote from the story, this isn't the first time we've seen kinks in the armor from legacy teams.
We saw it in both the Lakers dynasties in the early 80's under Pat Riley, and again in the late 90's and early 2000's under Phil Jackson.
We saw it in the power struggle in Dallas during the early 90's between Jimmy Johnson, then head coach of the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones.
We saw it in San Francisco, during the Bill Walsh and George Seifert years with the 49ers.
This is not an original story.
But this is a different time, and perhaps no sports dynasty has been as polarizing as the current version of the Patriots.
Consider these bullet points as evidence as one of the myriad reasons people dislike -- or perhaps despise is a better term -- the Patriots.
*The tuck rule
*Aaron Hernandez (yeah, maybe the "bullet points" reference was uncalled for there)
Toss into that the logical analysis that fans -- by and large -- either love a dynasty or hate them. And sometimes at the same time.
There is no middle ground. You loved or hated the Cowboys, the Lakers, the 49ers, the Yankees. This was what made them dynasties. We loved watching them be created, we marvel at watching them burn to the ground.
My initial impression on this story is that probably quite a bit of it is accurate. I don't doubt that there is tension in the Patriots clubhouse. Families fight, people with massive amounts of success want to portray themselves in fantastical fashion.
But be careful what you wish for, if you're one of those grabbing the proverbial popcorn and waiting for the mass exodus of the Patriots.
Because if history is any indicator of how this story ends, and if we use the referenced teams above, almost every one of them are still trying to claw themselves out from the very hole they entrenched upon themselves so long ago.
Ask Jerry Jones how many titles the Cowboys have won since the days of Aikman, Irvin and Smith.
Ask anyone on the L.A. Lakers if things got a lot better since the days of Kobe and Shaquille O'Neal.
If the Patriots are about to crash and burn, and if these are the final days of the soap opera we've watched with palpable amounts of both glee and anger, then this NFL postseason just got a lot more interesting.
And isn't that part of the appeal in the first place?
Because as much as we hate hearing about the effects of the train wreck and as saddened as we become recalling the toll of a massive crash, we all secretly want to be a witness to it.
Vicariously, we're all going to sit back and let Rome burn. One playoff game at a time.