By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
May 30, 2005

No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates

"Hey Kev, it's been a while since your last patsfans column. What gives?” queried my friend Bill the other day.

Well, I could sit here and tell you that work has been busy or that having a seven-month old baby has made me start to envy the sleep schedules of dairy farmers. But I'm sure you don't care what lame excuse I cook up. "I've got my own brush fires to put out every day too, pal,” you might respond.

But the truth is, after the Tedy Bruschi stroke, there hasn't been a helluva a lot to get riled up about in Patriots Nation this offseason. Sure, we've seen some quality additions in Chad Brown and Chad Scott. There's also been the return of two of my all-time favorites, Troy Brown and Doug Flutie. And there's Tom Brady contract extension that will keep him around here for the foreseeable future.

Ho hum. A boring offseason.

But once you start thinking about it, a "boring” offseason is just the ticket for this team to make a run at a fourth Super Bowl title in five years. No strange drug test run-ins with the "Whizzinator” or divisive contract holdouts down in Foxboro. Just business as usual. No wonder it's been easy to fall asleep during this offseason.

But once you wake up from your hibernation sometime after the All-Star Break and start to get your head around the 2005 NFL season, it might just hit you like a shovel to your kisser.

If the Patriots can win that fourth title in five years, they will no longer have a seat at the table of all-time great NFL teams. Belichick's team earned their promotion from the kiddie card table with their triumph a few months ago.

Let me take a deep breath and hold it in as I write these words:

If the confetti falls for the Patriots at Super Bowl XL next February, they will then move to the head of that table and start serving the great Packer, Steeler, Cowboy and 49er teams of yesteryear.

(Petty side-track diversionary thought: After writing the above paragraph, I can now expect a deluge of hate e-mails from Steeler fans. Please, save both your time and mine. You guys haven't won anything since the Carter administration.)

Making such a bold assertion is based on a few factors. First, the cumulative skill level of NFL players today is so much greater than it was in the past. They are bigger, quicker and asked to run complex schemes. Then you have the parity of the free agency era that wisely gives a wider variety of teams an actual chance to compete every year (Think back to the Saints, Bucs and yes, the Patriots teams of the past and you'll see my point.)

With the advent of free agency in the early 1990s, no longer did teams like the 49ers have a stranglehold on their talent stockpile. Player mobility lead to teams having to adjust every year. This lead to the end of any talk of future dynasties.

All of that changed one night in New Orleans when the Patriots finally made the hair on a whole region's neck collectively rise. Who would have ever thought that an "accidental” Super Bowl championship would be the beginning of a run towards the claim as the greatest team in the 86-year history of the NFL?

I only wear only one kind of sunglasses (rose-colored), and even yours truly never dared to dream that silly thought as I floated through Jackson Square at midnight alongside my Dad.

"One Super Bowl is all I ever wanted,” I said to him as we made our way back to the hotel. "Just one. And now we got it”

The smile on his face showed he agreed. After all, he's been at this Patriots thing a lot longer than I have; including making a run for it when the Harvard Stadium stands caught on fire in the 1960s.

But then one Vince Lombardi trophy turned into two. And two turned into three and what's a boy to do?

I don't know about you, but I still have a hard time thinking that the Patriots could be the greatest team of all time. They were my lovable losers. There was a time when we were thrilled if they just threatened to make the playoffs. Mix in a few electrocutions, Monday Night Football mishaps and bizarre front office behavior and we had the football equivalent of the crazy aunt who lived in the basement (Special thanks to Ross Perot for that last analogy).

Well, dress up Aunt Edna and present her for dinner at the table of NFL greatness.

The food is on the stove and the first course will be served in July.

"Well, am I gonna eat, or am I gonna starve to death?"

Come to think of it, Aunt Edna, I'm getting hungry myself.

And even if you can't believe that you are still stopping by the Star Wars toy aisle after all these years, I would still like to hear from you. I can be reached at [email protected].