By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
July 25, 2005

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft owns no concerns that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are missing OTAs
New NFL policy lets players who don’t want to stand for anthem stay in locker room
Former Patriots rip NFL’s new anthem policy

I've got a quick question for you to ponder as you wonder if Tony Graffanino is the short-term answer at 2nd base.

When will your Patriots switch get flipped?

It will happen at some point over the next six weeks to all of us who follow the team.

It's hard to say when the switch will get flipped (even mine). Some years, it happens way before training camp when you stumble upon a Tedy Bruschi one-of-a-kind Pro Bowl jersey on clearance for $14.99 in early July. Or perhaps its when you see the first footage of Tom Brady going back to pass in his red #12 practice jersey. Maybe the first pre-season game. It could even wait to hit you on Opening Night against the Raiders.

But hit us it will. And once it does, there is nothing like it. I can't get enough news and gossip about what's going on around the League. I won't be able to help it when I stay up just a little too late on a school night to see the story on whether Lions' Head Coach Steve Mariucci's job is safe or not.

But until that switch gets flipped, my focus will solely be on the Olde Towne Team.

I can't help it. Maybe it's just the afterglow of last year and how it brought us together in a way that will probably never be seen again. If you need a gauge of just how the Red Sox have a grip on this region, may I suggest a stop by my grandfather's nursing home in Norwood. On his floor, you're bound to run into a few of the fellas wearing the latest Sox t-shirt while they wheel themselves up and down the hall. And then a minute or two later, you shouldn't be surprised if you see a three year-old running down the hall after said resident in a Big Papi shirt anxious to give grandpa a big hello hug and kiss.

Of course, the same region-wide passion is true-to a far lesser degree-for the Patriots. But keep in mind that the Red Sox have had a ninety year head start on the Pats. Realistically, few people kept a consistent light on for the team before Parcells came to town in the early 1990s. Sure, there were runs in the late 1970s and mid 1980s, but they came and went.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, thrilled us and broke our collective hearts in '48, '49, '67, '72, '75, '78, '86, '88, '90, '95, '98, '99, & '03. I shouldn't have to tell you that with those years came more emotional baggage than you could fit inside the luggage claim area in Terminal A at Logan. If you boil it down, that Samsonite weight is why we lost our self-control in our living rooms and toasted deceased grandmothers, college roommates and parents on the night of last October 27.

Pro football, unlike baseball's spring training, sneaks up on us. We're too busy cooking out, playing golf, or hitting the beach. We wait forever for pitchers and catchers to report because by mid-February in these parts, we have seen enough black ice, StormCenter updates, and broadcasts of disheveled Governors in bad sweaters to last a while and we need any sign of Spring.

But once the football bug hits you over the coming weeks, look out. All of sudden you start to worry about the Brandon Gorin/Tom Ashworth battle at right tackle. How many double reverses is Belichick going to call now that he is running the shop on offense? Will this be the year that Peyton finally comes into Foxboro (It used to be a drinking town with a football problem - Not anymore) and beats the Patriots?

But your concentration on the Patriots will continue to be distracted (hopefully) well into October by the Red Sox. Whenever the Sox season ends, the big Patriots question will still be there for debate.

Can the Patriots - who will always be second fiddle in this Town - win four titles in five years and be the first team to three-peat as Super Bowl champs?

I know my dad doesn't want to hear this, but it's true. And yours truly is "guilty as charged, your honor” on this one. Your local pro football franchise is on the verge of writing the story for the ages and all anyone can talk about at your local Dunkin' Donuts is the tradeability of Kevin Millar and the potential of Hanley Ramirez helping the big league club now.

This reality has to be maddening to the Patriots. I can envision the folks in the marketing department at One Patriot Place secretly throwing darts at a picture of Johnny Damon and wondering if their team would have to win ten Lombardi trophies in order to start to turn the tide. In any other town in this great land of ours, the Patriots would be the runaway best seller. But not here.

Who could forget the 2003 regular season game against the Titans when a huge cheer went up from the crowd in Foxboro after a Titans late fourth-quarter touchdown. Turned out, we were all cheering Big Papi's huge double in the eighth inning during game four against the A's as we listened to it on our radios.

Perhaps that was the moment that made me realize what a unique, sports-infatuated region we live in. The Patriots will have their day in the sun this year, for sure. It just may have to wait for the first week in November, that's all.

So until the time when my switch gets flipped, I just have one question for you.

Do you think a trade for J.C. Romero would be the answer for the bullpen?