By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
January 22, 2007

Patriots practice report: Brian Hoyer struggles during OTA session
Patriots safety Duron Harmon says he's learned from Costa Rica incident
Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers happy to be healthy
Belichick mum on Brady and Gronk OTA absences
No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs

"Thanks for seeing me on such short notice," I said as I strolled into his office last Monday night.

I figured that I needed a better way to deal with the disappointment of the 38-34 loss to the Colts other than a Swedish Fish binge or a dip into the icy Kennebec River.

"No problem. Business has been pretty brisk today. Come on in," said the man some would consider to be a "quack."

"Please, make yourself comfortable on the couch," he offered as I glumly rolled into an office filled with more degrees than an August afternoon in Florida.

After I settled in, he asked what I would like to talk about. "I'm still trying to make heads or tails of this crushing loss and I figured that an hour or so here would be healthier for me - and not to mention my co-workers and close family members - than some of my previous post-elimination displays of immaturity," I began.

"That's fine," said the man. "So, your thoughts on yesterday?"

"Well, it all started out fine enough. They jumped out to a big lead and it looked like they were going to steamroll all the way towards a fourth Super Bowl in six years," I said.

"Then the wheels fell off the bus in the third quarter. I'm pretty sure the moment I knew the Patriots defense was toast was when the trainer was trying to rub the cramp out of Vince Wilfork's calf with a pogo stick."

"But you didn't give up all hope at that point, I imagine?" he returned.

"Oh no, doc. What do you think I'm crazy?

"In my line of work, there is no such condition as 'crazy,'" he tersely responded.

"Sorry. Anyways, I figured that Brady was a magician and that he could pull it off. Amazingly, I was almost right. A funny thing occurred to me as confetti reigned down in the RCA Dome. Rooting for the Patriots had turned into the football equivalent of being a Yankees fan. You laugh, but it nearly stopped my heart, pal. I mean, you begin to expect the impossible and that your team will continually suppress its arch-rival. In this case, the Colts," I continued.

"Go on." he said.

As I was thinking to myself that I'm in the wrong line of work, I added: "Sure, it's tough to take but it's been a pretty fun season. They squeezed quite a bit out of a lemon and still didn't spend all the way up to the cap. Doesn't that burn you too?"

"Don't worry about me. What do you think?" he volleyed.

"Well, I blow all kinds of money on tickets, jerseys, hats, DVDs, bobbleheads and all kinds of other Patriot-related junk. Now I'm even into PJs for the babies, for Pete Carroll's sake. It just burns me that $3 million or so could have been used for an extra veteran linebacker or safety that I had actually heard of before the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game."

"Have you ever thought about doing something more productive or healthy with your time? Say reading a book or going to the symphony?" the one with PhD after his name quipped.

"What are you nuts?" I blurted out as I knew what was coming next.

He just rolled his eyes. "Sorry again," I sheepishly pulled back.

"Truth is, I can't remember what it's like not to follow this team through good and bad. Geez, doc. My dad took me to my first game on August 20, 1978 against the Kansas City Chiefs. I was only five years old and mostly what I recall about that pre-season game is that I went nuts for Cracker Jacks. Sorry, bad pun. But look, I'm 34 now and have two little munchkins of my own and the circle of life on this Pats thing is starting to get me kind of emotional, frankly."

"I'm guessing that this devotion comes with a price tag. Do you feel the team somehow owes you an apology for losing on Sunday?" he prodded.

"The team doesn't owe me a thing except perhaps spending to the cap every year. They played their guts out this year and especially on Sunday. Going to the games with my family and friends has been such an integral part of my life that when the team almost moved to St. Louis back in the early 1990s, I had a knot in my stomach for weeks. For better or for worse, following the Patriots is one of the first things that people would say about me if asked to describe what kind of guy I am. I'm sure collecting Arthur Fiedler concert-used batons and following the BSO on tour would do wonders for my heart and mood but it's just not me," I rambled on.

"Hmmm," he responded.

"Being a Pats follower these days is fashionable and I don't make any silly claims to be the "best" or "biggest" one on my block. Don't you think people who say that kind of stuff typically wouldn't know Jim Bowman from Jim Nance?" I desperately offered.

"Uhhhh." was the PhD's responsorial.

"I think what gets me through tough losses like the one on Sunday is the fact that I never expected them to win one Super Bowl, never mind three of the darn things. Sure, they need some speed at both linebacker and receiver but there's no reason to think that they won't be in the mix next season. Who do you think they should take with the two first-round picks in the draft?" I enthusiastically asked.

"It doesn't matter what I think. And besides, your time is almost up. Has this been helpful to you?" he wondered.

"Oh very much so, doc. I realized that there's no shame in losing an AFC Championship Game. I also love the fact that most of these guys are a pro's pro and they play football the right way. Who would have thought back in the nuclear winter of the Rod Rust era that we would be bummed out with losing out in an AFC Championship Game? Hard to believe how good the living has been for Patriot Nation, eh? One last thing, I guess. It's funny but after a loss like this and once the dust settles, such adversity hardens one's resolve to continue their devotion. It's the tough times like Sunday night that make the great moments later on so much sweeter. Life has a way of settling itself up like that I suppose."

"Well, Mr. Rousseau. I think we made some progress today. And speaking of settling up, make sure to see Marie out front and she'll process an invoice for you," he said as I shuffled back into the waiting area.

As I headed out of the office building, I couldn't help but think that Mr. PhD had all the answers to my questions. "I feel better already," I said to myself as I pushed in a Dropkick Murphys CD into the car's player and drove off into the Maine evening.