To ALL: Clearly I could start a Thread entitled, "What Are Our Goals For Next Week/Game Plan," or "Who Get's the GameBall this Week." Perhaps I could try to raise My Status from Rookie with a piece entitled: "Our D-Backs Did Awesome (dude)!" Admittedly, this may be the wisest course to take considering I have some sort of a green blob beside my name that states, "Lazarus is of an unknown capability at this time," or something of that sort. I realize now that to speak your mind is to invite inevitable criticism of what's therein, but ya know what...I ...just...cannot. Whether I'm right or whether I start a Thread that sucks I cannot kow-tow to stagnant ideas, moreso, I cannot let the naysayers get the better of me... I surmise, Op-Ed it is then. This may in fact be rather presumptuous, but It looks like the Pats might be travelling down a less traversed path after Tom Brady's injury, so I will do the same. At the very least this road appears to be rocky and pretty unsteady, but ya know what, Us True Fans of the New England Patriots have been down it before. There's the rub...that 2 word add-in, "True Fans." We All would like to think that we're "Real Fans." I would. Some of us have been Fans of the Pats from the Worcester Days...or was it Lowell? I was born in 1976, so I wouldn't quite know. I suposse those old-timers would call me a bandwagon fan. But Que Sira Sira. I DO remember when it was I became a Pats Fan. It was 1988 (mullets were in and Bon Jovi was a cowboy), and It was My Father's Birthday. The Big Gift He got from Mom was a pair of tickets to Foxborough. I recall asking him who He was going to take? His answer was, "One of my Best Friends." This had to be, I thought, His best buddy, Ray. When a tear formed in my eye for being so stupid as to ask, He quickly jumped in with, "You're my best buddy ya dope." True to His word, that Fall He brought me up to Sullivan Stadium, spoiled me with a fuzzy over-sized, "We're #1" Hand, and bought me a good-as-rubber Hot Dog and a cold Coke. He must have showed me who Andre Tippet was. I remember the cameras would scroll down a line of people in the front row, and one of them, beer in hand, gave His idea of the #1 Finger. My Father saw it too. Laughing, He said, "Now THAT'S a TRUE FAN...a Patriot lovin' vagrant like all of us on these freezing cold metal benches." The idea seemed cryptic to me then...It doesn't now. On the way home, Dad took me out to eat in Sturbridge at a place called "Ron's." Even though the Pats lost a stinker to a Team I long have forgotten, I still remember it as one of the best days of my life. I felt some weird sense of community up there in that Stadium. It carried me through that year when I wore my Tippet Jersey to Junior High School, and most of the kids gave me the same response: "Why Do You Like the Patriots, They Suck!" I didn't ever know how to answer. Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote about his refusal to move away from Salem, Mass.. He said something akin to: "My Grandfather walked these streets, My Father did too. And so, Like a vigilant groundskeeper, I find that's it's my duty to do the same. To not Let Them Down." This is about as clear a reason that I can give. When I was 12, however, the only answer I could give was, "I'm from Somers, So Are You People. We live right smack dab in the middle of New England on the Mass/Ct border. WHO Should I like?" The standard response: "How 'bout Someone that Wins." Sooner or later though, that all changed. The Pats started to win...Big Time. People seemed to change as well. Moving down to Florida for some time when I was 25, I remember seeing more Tom Brady Jerseys on people than Dolphin or Bucs Jerseys. Each time I viewed them with utter contempt. "Does this kid with a scum-stache really know who Mosi Tatupoo is? Shoot, You even know who Randall Gay is," I would tell my girlfriend. These people were surely pathetic bandwagoneers. I wondered, "Was the whole world Patriot Fans?" This is where my feel-good anecdotes end, and my heretical writing begins, so stick around... Thomas Paine once wrote a pamphlet in order to call to arms some scrappy young upstart Americans as He could. His "American Crisis" began like this: "These ARE the Times that try Men's Souls. The Summer Soldier and The Sunshine Patriot will, in, no doubt shrink in times of crisis....". Now I tell You ALL this because perhaps this is the end of an era (I'm not a fatalist, but some of us are). At the evry least, with Brady going down Today, We might be in for some Trying Times. This (gulp) may not be such a bad thing. I never believed such a stupid thought before recently, but I have to ask, "Will LOSING Be such a Bad thing?" A friend of mine has an interesting notion on when a Mass Herd of Animals gets too big. They eat up all the food supply, and Everyone suffers. When, subsequently, the weak fall by the wayside to predator, disease, hunger, or even lack of will, It's not such a bad thing after all. She calls this, "Thinning out the Herd." Freud, too talked about Group Mentality...the herd. He preached that We ALL want to lose ourselves into something greater than the mere lonesome solitary individual soul. The problem arises when the group gets too big, You lose any sense of community and of solidarity...of uniqueness. Look, I'm not saying that This will ALL end right now, but IF and WHEN it does, it might NOT be the worst thing. In the end, You'll, just like I'm right now, simply and humbly asking those that Are NOT "Sunshine Patriots" more or less IF This Herd has become too massive. And specifically, I'm asking YOU, "Are You going to fall by the wayside, turn tail and run, Or Are You going to dutifully trudge up to the front of the line and stick your chest out high when the ranks grow increasingly smaller. Are You going to proudly traverse along those much narrower paths when that time comes (because come It WILL), Or turn around...and perhaps, Go Back Home."