By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
August 18, 2005

NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Wise, 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
Patriots notebook: Patriots hold bonding time at Children’s Hospital
Guregian: Patriots Hall of Famer Matt Light says there’s more to being a successful offensive lineman than the measurables

As you may know, we have a young son now. Jake is the love of my life and always brightens up my day. He's ten months old and it's a fun age because he is discovering many of life's events for the first time.

Like watching a pre-season Patriots game with his old man.

There was a time in my life (not too long ago, really) when even a pre-season Pats game would signal a few hours of preparation including-but not limited to-buying a six-pack of beer and a bag of Party Mix (Incidentally, how can you not love Party Mix? It's the runaway best football snack on the market), looking over Patriots Football Weekly for any news on the team, and calling my best friend Bill to ask clichéd questions like "How psyched are you, man?

But times have changed. For the overall better, mind you. But man, are things different.

The 8 o'clock hour snuck up on me tonight. "Can you watch Jake while I do a few things and give the dog a quick walk?” asks my saint of a wife. "Sure, no problem,” I counter; not fully appreciating the experience I was just about to undertake as the Saints-Pats game got underway.

Instead of the first Coors Light of the evening being cracked, it was instead time to crack upon a nice, cool bottle of Enfamil formula for the newest Patriots fan in the Rousseau household. Jake got refreshed as I tried to get my head around the game.

No sooner did I start to ponder whether there really is something wrong with Tom Brady's arm when Jake decided that he was suddenly fascinated with my eyeglasses and wanted to get his little hands on them for a personal inspection. "Jake, c'mon honey. I'm trying to see if Ellis Hobbs is as good as advertised,” I pleaded to no avail.

A few minutes later, Bill calls to check in. He too has his hands full with two young ones as demonstrated by the attempted chat that we tried to undertake. Normally, we would sit, chat and react as the game unfolds.

Not now, pal.

"Brady looks OK, Kev,” observed Bill. I tried to answer but Jake decided to pull his own version of a Rodney Harrison cheap shot and should have been flagged for holding (Dad's leg hair, to be specific). No sooner did I throw a yellow flag on my son did he decide that perhaps he could show off his punting skills to anyone interested when he delivered a perfect kick to Super Dad's business section.

"Bill, I gotta go,” I resigned myself to utter. With little voices screaming in the background at his house, he agreed that we would catch up later when things quieted down for both of us-probably around 2017.

And so it went on for most of the first half of the game until Jake decided to end his evening at right about the same time as the Patriots first-string. As he laid in my arms, I suddenly realized that the first half of the game was over and I had no notes on the game. Usually, I'll take notes as the game unfolds in order to provide you-the loyal reader-with pearls of wisdom just moments after the game ended.

Not this game. Not this night. Besides, there are plenty of places you can get that stuff if you want it and my analysis isn't going to add much more value anyways.

I'll take your word as to whether Brady's arm looked sore, Logan Mankins picked up his blitzes or even if the return game showed signs of improvement in the first half. I have no developed opinion as I write these words. Frankly, if they want to introduce new sleep deprivation techniques down at Guantanamo Bay, may I suggest that the make these prisoners look after a host of toddlers. It's a sure fire way to find Osama Bin Laden in about thirty-six hours.

But the truth is, I can't imagine my life any other way now. Whereas a third-down conversion used to bring a sense of fulfillment, it's now looking down at a peaceful Jake as he sleeps and being grateful for his being.

I wonder if he'll grow up to become a fan of the team. I think ahead to the time that I take his little hand and we go to training camp a few years from now. Perhaps he will get jazzed up about the Patriots like I did during my childhood. One of the most gratifying aspects of being a fan-of any team I suppose-is a sense of community and ties to generations past and future that such an affiliation brings to us.

Perhaps my dad had the same passing thoughts about me during the 1973 season when I was ten-months old. Following a sports team is one of the few traditions that we have left in this country where different generations, ethnic groups and folks of various economic means can rally behind and find common ground.

In such a divisive time as the one in which we live, that indeed is "a good thing” as ex-con Martha would say.

As I barely am able to stay awake to type these words, I'll hope that Jake finds something-whether it's this team or another undertaking- that delivers what following the Patriots has done for me over the course of my life.

If he does, there will be a "meaningless " pre-season game that years from now I will look back and smile thinking about the memories of being kicked, pulled and distracted by a young Jake.

Who says pre-season is meaningless?