by Dan Snapp
I might have to give up the merit badges, the keys to the Patriots Daily executive washroom, even the cherished Troy Brown-inscribed rose-colored sunglasses.
Sorry, guys. Try though I might, I just can’t get worked up over the loss. I know this goes against the grain of the fandom, but I’m actually, well, OK with it.
Look, of course it’s disappointing. But the truth is it was a hell of a game. The Giants made some amazing plays when they absolutely needed to, and they completely earned it. They were the better team. What more can be said?
The Patriots fan in me grieves; the football fan admires the magnitude of the achievement. No, I don’t have a key to the company liquor cabinet.
It would be easier if the Giants were more hateable. Yeah, there’s always Strahan, but that big fraud’s always been like that, a harmless goofball. There was some talk, but most of it was pretty muted. Yeah, yeah, Plaxico’s prediction, but who cares? What’s he supposed to say, that his team would lose?
Eli’s the lesser of two evils but now possibly the greater of two Mannings, at least in big games. He doesn’t do the Peyton face well enough to dislike him. Plus, those last two drives, he was money. You gotta respect that.
I know, I know. Here’s my security badge.
There’s no pontificating head coach, no self-promoting star QB, no popcorn-eating wide receiver. No villains at all, really. Their coach is just as curmudgeonly and misunderstood as our coach. Their fourth receiver had the two biggest plays of the game. Their backup tight end took a pass 45 yards. Their third defensive tackle had the culminating sack of the game.
Hell, maybe these guys are the 2001 Pats after all. To paraphrase Helen Seinfeld, “How can anyone not like them?”
Guys, is the security guard really necessary?
Meanwhile, after two weeks of media proclaiming “the best team ever”, “the best quarterback ever”, “the best coach ever”, blah blah blah, I really found myself hating these over-hyped favorites. Oh wait, that was the Patriots they were talking about. Sorry. Old habit, hating the over-hyped.
Seriously, though, parade plans? A “19-0″ book? And even, God help us, copyrighting “19-0″? Please, please, please tell me that’s not really true. And who let Rick Pitino into the stadium complex in the first place?
That’s not the team we’ve come to love. That’s not the Bill Belichick way. To him, we’ve been trained, such actions are deemed “unseemly”.
But that’s just it about this season. None of it’s been the Belichick way. The scores, the records, the bests this and that. That used to be for the other teams. Let them have the records; we’ll take the rings. Right?
Even the premature pronouncements of Brady and Belichick, respectively, as “best ever”; those seem like titles both would rather see declared under the benefit of hindsight, long after their careers are over. “Just happy to be mentioned in the same breath,” is the proper phrase for the here and now.
Otto Graham, one of the greats Brady was scheduled to surpass, played 10 years of professional football and went to 10 championship games. He won the first four in the old All-America Football Conference (including a perfect season in ’48), and then the next one in the Browns’ first year in the NFL. But then the Browns lost three straight title games. They responded by winning the next two.
This is the future I see for the New England Patriots. Built to compete for the title every year, winning some, losing some, but back to challenge every season. Not perfect, but a hell of a run.
Perfect was a pipe dream. One that so nearly came true, but in the end, still a dream. All the Patriots proved was they can be the 2004 Colts better than the 2004 Colts could, but with the same sad results.
The dream’s over. Let’s get back to what the Patriots were in the start of the decade: balanced offense, punishing defense, opportunistic special teams, and the team every vanquished opponent thought wasn’t “the better team.”
So can I get my shades back?
Mother Knew Best
It’s odd the moments you miss them most. Mom would have been the first to call Sunday night.
“Oh, do you have one of those caller identification things?”
“So are you OK, honey?”
“I’m fine. Really.”
“That was such a tough loss.”
“Well, I remember how you used to get.”
“I was just a kid then.”
“You’d shoot baskets in the driveway for three hours after the Celtics lost. And that wasn’t even the playoffs.”
“I’m not like that now.”
“You’d destroy my marigolds.”
“Not on purpose. They were kinda in my baseline.”
“Well, I thought the Giants deserved to win! They played great!”
“Oh, I agree. The Pats have only themselves to blame. It’s not like the refs did them in or something, like a couple of those calls in Indy last ye…”
“Oh, I thought the referees were completely fair today!”
“No, no, me too. I meant last year in Indianap…”
“I was happy for Eli.”
“Dad says he misses you yelling at the TV.”
“I don’t really do that anymore, either. But I miss being there, too.”
“Something’s burning. Here’s your father.”
“Hey, Dad. What’d you think?”
“Entertaining! Wish they had found a use for Mr. Brown, though.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Think he’ll be back one more year?”
“I doubt it.”
“Here’s your mother.”
“Hi, it’s me. So that play with Manning breaking free and the receiver catching it against his helmet. His helmet! I could barely stand to watch!”
“They earned that win!”
“The Patriots had their chances, and they blew it!”
“No argument here.”
“So I just called to say life goes on.”
“I know, Mom.”
“They’ll be back again.”
“Yeah, I think so too.”
“Your brothers are probably calling. Kiss your girls for me.”
What I wouldn’t give now to take that call.