Of Limos and Lunchpails
Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, Rodney Harrison, Adalius Thomas, Asante Samuel, Junior Seau... that sounds like components for a pretty good team, huh?
The 2007 Patriots, like so many teams this year, were a Limo team. Making headlines with an impressive list of talented players devouring every team in its wake, often leaving the opponent embarrassed. In addition to touchdowns, there were style-points galore. The team worked as a unit, a traveling executioner of sorts. Despite a stunning upset in the Superbowl, it is very unlikely another team will ever mount such a brutal attack on the NFL again. There will be great teams, but very few will even step into the conversation when comparisons to that season are made.
This year Dallas, New York (Jets), and even to a degree The Eagles are the limo teams. Unlike the Patriots, though, these teams are struggling to live up to the hype and none are even close to the consistency of the 2007 Patriots.
This year may well be the year of the lunch-pail teams. Regular guys going to work, "doing their job", and playing for sixty minutes.
The Titans are having a great season if you don't feel the need to count style-points. The Dolphins are trending upward by trying new things. Their version of a flashy acquisition was a cast-off QB infamously referred to as noodle-arm. The New York Giants are a lunch-pail team. Hard work, power football and every man doing his job. You see it in the handling of Plaxico Burress, who obviously feels he ought to be on a Limo team.
And then there's a battered and tattered group of heroes who've been mercilessly jammed back into the trenches by injuries and threatened by the chief ruiner of hope, doubt.
That team is your 2008 New England Patriots.
18 Members of this team have played for three years or less. 29 of them for five years or less. The IR list currently sits at ten, soon to be eleven and maybe twelve. Three of those (and soon to be four) represent major team leaders.
Still, this team is not just staying in it, this team is tied for first place in their division. No flash. No splendor. No limo. Just guys carrying lunchpails and taking their jobs seriously. If a man goes down, his back-up is expected to be ready. Matt Cassel set the tone for this.
Cassel, Green-Ellis, Richardson, Wilhite, Guyton, and probably before long, Redd. This is your team, and they are lowering their pads and running at the opposition together. Superstars and rookies together under the guidance of a man who understands work ethic.
Thank you to the tone-setters like Troy Brown and Kevin Faulk, who have been shining examples of knowing your job and be willing to accept added responsibility.
Thank you to Matt, Meri, and BenJarvus for showing us that preparation and hard work can render the seeds of doubt impotent.
Thank you Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick for building a team that comes to work everyday, taking nothing for granted.
The Limo was fun. The Lunch-pail has been rewarding.
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