By: Bob George/BosSports.net
January 31, 2004

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HOUSTON -- Come on. You can wait just 24 more hours, can't you?

No. Bring it on. Before I go crazy. Before my wife throws me out of the house because she can't stand me anymore. Before I spend another $100 on drinks and munchies for all the people coming over. Before I go out and spring for about 200 paper bags to put over my face to stem the hyperventilation.

If you feel this way, do not feel alone. You and every Patriot and Panther fan out there are pretty much at this point, though perhaps not to the point of needing a paper bag. But there has to be a lot of anxiety out there amongst the masses who do the rooting, to say nothing of what those who will do the coaching and playing must be thinking. It's thirteen days down and one to go since the last game for these two teams, and not long from now, Super Bowl XXXVIII will finally kick off.

These final 24 hours are well worth delving into and reminiscing over. This is the fourth Super Bowl Eve in Patriot history, and this feeling in 2004 is quite unique from the previous three. Because the Patriots are favoured, and because they won a Super Bowl recently, there is a feeling of "been there, done that" and "confidence in victory" running through the minds of Patriot Nation. It is in stark contrast to what everyone must have been thinking in the previous three trips to this big game, all of which were in New Orleans.

We'd like to bring closure to the hype and the wait this year with a little expose on what all of us were perhaps thinking on these previous occasions. Wherever you may be, enjoy the game, drink responsibly, and if Bob Kraft has an acceptance speech all ready to go, here's hoping we get to hear it.

Of fish squishing, balls fumbling and passes intercepting

Did what just happen happen? We won? In Miami? We're going to the Super Bowl? No. I didn't see it. Someone put something in my beer. Super Bowls happen to Dolphins and Raiders and Steelers. Not Patriots.

It's true. We just beat Miami, 31-14. No, I just don't believe it. It just doesn't register. I've never seen this. The Patriots? AFC Champs? They've been losers for most of my life. Their one good year, 1976, they wound up getting screwed by the zebras. But now…they won? And they're going to the Super Bowl?

I screamed and hollered for about a half hour. I saw Billy Sullivan accept the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Holy (a naughty word which sometimes refers to excrement)! Wow! AFC Champs! The next day, I read the paper. The Boston Globe said this: Elephants can fly. The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. I saw it, and I still don't believe it.

Who are the Patriots going to play? Oh, yeah, the Chicago Bears. Aw, that'll be easy. When's the last time they ever won anything? 1940? Didn't they beat someone 70-0? No sweat. Patriots are gonna kill the Bears. When's the game? Two weeks? Jeez. Why two weeks? The Patriots are gonna get three or four interceptions and about four fumbles and win 27-0. Two weeks?

My buddy just told me about the Bears. They won both their NFC playoff games by shutout. Aw, who cares. The Giants and Rams aren't the Patriots. All we have to do is shut down Walter Payton and we got it. My friend says that they got this great defense. So? Craig James will rush for about 100 yards and Tony Eason will throw two or three touchdown passes. What team out there can possibly beat the Patriots?

Everyone is saying what a great thing it was what the Patriots did. Three road playoff wins to the Super Bowl, first NFL team to do so. I can't wait. Bring on the Bears. We're gonna kill them. Who is this McMahon geek? We're gonna kill them.

A bigger Jet fan than a Patriot fan

I feel like killing myself. I just picked up the paper this morning. Saw this article from Will McDonough of the Globe. He says that Bill Parcells is definitely leaving the Patriots after the Super Bowl. Groan. Right now I just want to go away and die.

Why does this happen to the Patriots at the Super Bowl? I still can't get over eleven years ago. The Bears murdered us. I felt depressed that night, and it took about a month before I managed to smile again. Now, here we are back at the Super Bowl, in New Orleans, no less, and now we get this. Parcells is leaving. How can the Patriots possibly win this weekend?

We had a chance in this game. Everyone talks about how great Brett Favre is. I expected him to be good for about four interceptions this weekend. I expected Willie McGinest and Chris Slade to be in his face all game long. How excited will those guys be now? Now that they know Parcells is leaving, where will their spirit come from? The Packers are probably going to kill us just like the Bears did back in 1986.

Parcells has spent all week denying these rumours about him leaving. I just saw the most ludicrous thing I've ever seen. At media day, Parcells and Kraft were walking together on the Superdome field, chatting away as if nothing is wrong at all. What a crock. Those two guys hate each other. Why did Kraft drive Parcells away? Why is Parcells so disloyal to his current team? Was drafting Terry Glenn worth all this dishonest theater and disappointment?

Someone please explain to me what kind of an upgrade Pete Carroll will be as head coach.

"I think the Rams are going to go big early!" -- John Madden

Well, what do you know. We went into Pittsburgh and won. That'll be the high water mark of the season, I figure. Great year, Pats. Just Bill Belichick's second year, and already we're back in the Big Show. (a colorful word that might mean "to heck with") Parcells. Who needs him?

Hah. Even if we did still have that traitor, it probably doesn't matter. Look at who we have to play. The Rams. Terrific. And again, the damn game is in New Orleans. What is it with the Super Bowl? Is it in this stupid city every year? I hate this city. We've been here twice and gotten killed each time. Now we have to go up against a team which is as good offensively as the Bears were defensively in 1986?

The Patriots have won nine games in a row. Guess who our last loss was to? I remember that Sunday night. And it was at home, and we still lost, 24-17. They say that if only Antowain Smith hadn't fumbled at the goal line, we win that game. Hah. The Rams ran off the final seven and a half minutes of the game. That's how great this Ram team is.

What's the point spread? Rams by 14? Great. Why even bother to play the game? I see the Rams winning 45-21. Oh sure, Belichick is a great coach. He will try and come up with something, I know. But what can he possibly do with all those Rams wideouts? Oh, and what about Marshall Faulk? You can't stop both Faulk and the receivers. Only 14 points? Can you spell "win and cover"?

It's 1986 all over again. And the game hasn't even started. Another mauling in New Orleans. I'll watch the game, why I don't know.

Another city, and maybe another Vince

One word describes me right now: calm.

Oh, yeah, anxious to get the game going. But I feel calm. Confident. And for the first time in my life going into this game, happy.

I still can't believe what happened two years ago. I have seen that field goal by Adam Vinatieri about two hundred times. Now, here it is, two years later, and how different things are. The Patriots are 16-2, the best in franchise history. The Patriots are actually favoured in this Super Bowl. They have an opponent with no history in this game, but is playing very well at this time. The Patriots are on the doorstep of some awesome legacy; a team mentioned as one of the best in NFL history, and a coach who is now being mentioned as winding up in Canton, Ohio someday.

Gosh, this is so different. Instead of angst and impending doom, it's now a feeling of composed solace and a gentle sense of impending good. The Panthers are a very tough opponent, and will give the Patriots a good game. But the prevailing feeling is that the Patriots will simply find a way to bring this landmark season to a fitting conclusion.

What a great feeling this is. No more sense of "we have no chance". This time, our team is perceived as the team to beat, and the onus is on the other team to produce the upset. This time, the Patriots are the Rolls-Royce. This time, it just feels like it's going to be a great day for the Patriots before the kickoff.

It's Houston, not New Orleans. New city, new feeling. The Patriots simply have to win. Let the kickoff be near.


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