I woke up Sunday morning, and for the first time in years, I was not excited for the opening week of the NFL. I had a massive hangover, but it wasn’t from drinking; it was still lingering from the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss 7 months earlier. Amazingly enough, I was still in denial. To understand better, check out “The Day After” at: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/02/day-after.html
I feel awful admitting this, but I thought about skipping the game. It was a beautiful day out, and who cared about week 1 anyway? Who cared about the regular season? The Patriots proved emphatically that the regular season does not matter. Despite going 16-0 last year, the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl. I tried comparing this with another sports team, and I came up with nothing. The Mariners set the MLB record for wins (116 wins) in 2001, and then lost to the Yankees in the playoffs. But the Patriots were undefeated; they were perfect!
I guess it would be like the Harlem Globetrotters losing to the Washington Generals after winning 2,495 straight times (this actually happened in 1971.) In a way, the Patriots “almost perfect” season ruined the mystique of the game for me. It would be like hooking up with that perfect “dream girl” and then finding out that she’s not that hot (without her clothes), and she’s a terrible kisser. And when you see her again, it’s just not the same, and you don’t know how to act around her. In a completely bizarre way, that’s how I felt about the Patriots this year.
Despite all of this, I agreed to watch part of the game with my buddy PA. We both felt guilty for not being enthused about the start of the season. I enjoyed my tasty buffalo wings as the Patriots and Chiefs traded turnovers and punts. Mid-way into my fifth wing, #12 went down. Tom Brady clutched his knee in pain. All of New England and its fans watched in silence. Then, my buddy and I looked at each other and unanimously declared: “The season’s over!”
Brady painfully limped off the field. His backup, Matt Cassel, came in and did a decent job. He played well enough to help the Patriots win their 20th regular season game in a row. Cassel now hopes to join Tom Brady and Kurt Warner as the only backups to lead his respective team to a Super Bowl win.
The next 24 hours I received countless phone calls, texts, and e-mails from Boston friends who were on the edge. Some couldn’t sleep; some felt nauseous; others contemplated the meaning of life. Why was this happening? What did the Patriots and its fans do to deserve this?
Some might argue that the Patriots made a deal with the devil. After winning 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, things have unraveled mightily for the Pats. The Patriots were caught cheating, and Belichick was given the stiffest fine in league history. Neutral fans began turning on the Patriots for their unbelievable success and borderline conduct. And finally, after going 18-0, the Patriots blew their chance at history by choking to the New York (of all places) Giants. Now Brady is out for the year, and it seems like their legacy is over.
But before Patriots’ fans hurl themselves off the Prudential, they need to think about this. Tom Brady being out for the year is not such a terrible thing. I know it sounds crazy, but his season-ending injury actually has me excited about the Patriots again.
Here are my Top 10 Reasons Why Tom Brady’s Season-Ending Injury is Not So Bad:
#10 Low Expectations
Does anyone remember when the Patriots won in 2001-02? It was so pure. It was such a great feeling! And most of it was because their fans never expected them to be there in the first place. It’s storytelling at its best: the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team, George Mason’s Final Four run in 2005-06, the Cleveland Indians from Major League…a team overcomes adversity to be one of the best. The 2008 Patriots now have a chance to join that list.
#9 Is Bill Belichick the Best?
Belichick has a chance to cement his place as the best coach in NFL history. It will be interesting to see how his team plays with unknown backup, Matt Cassel. If Belichick can win without Brady or stealing signals, there is no doubt that he is the best coach of all time.
Tickets to Patriots’ game are nearly impossible to get. Now that Brady’s out, it will be much easier to check out Gillette Stadium.
#7 Will Randy Moss Go Crazy?
It will be fun to see if Randy Moss goes back to his old self without Brady at the reigns. Will he catch 23 TDs again? No way! Will he run over another cop with his car like he did in Minnesota? I hope not. It will be interesting to monitor how Moss and other teammates handle the season without Tommy boy.
#6 Red Sox Nation
The Red Sox have been playing great. With the Patriots’ season in doubt, fans can focus solely on the Sox and root them on in October.
The Patriots always played better in the underdog role. Most teams will underestimate them without Brady. This will also give guys like Rodney Harrison incentive to pull out the “no respect” line.
#4 Don’t Hate
People may stop hating the Patriots. They may even start rooting for them again. As I recall, people rooted for them before they became the best team of the 21st century. Nobody hates an underdog, and without Brady, that’s exactly what they are.
Brady’s supermodel girlfriend is super hot. Now he can spend more time with Gisele and give her the support and encouragement she needs. Brady can also hang out with Bridget Moynahan and his baby boy. But they’re not as hot as Gisele.
The Patriots won the first 18 games last year and blew out most of their opponents. They were so efficient in manhandling the competition that many of the contests were over by halftime. Many of the games were actually boring. Their winning was machine-like; it was too easy, and it was the same thing every week. As the streak continued, Patriots’ fans felt relieved after each victory instead of happy and joyful (it reminded me of Yankee fans who are the worst.) It wasn’t that fun. This year will be completely different; fans will have to watch the games because they don’t know what’s going to happen. And fans will no longer take winning for granted.
Plus, Matt Cassel’s future is completely unknown. Will he be the next Tom Brady or the next Scott Zolak? Only time will tell.
#1 Free Time
If the Patriots implode and fail to make to make the playoffs, just think of all the extra free time you’ll have. Instead of wasting Sunday afternoons in a smelly, crowded bar, you can take a bike ride, go apple picking, read a book, volunteer at a soup kitchen, paint a picture, spend time with your in-laws, clean your house, write a poem...
You can finally live your life! There’s so much to do besides watch football!
Ahhhhh……Who am I kidding?
Without football, life sucks!
Get better Tommy B…we’ll miss you!
Trivia Q&A: July 19
2 days ago