February 24, 2004
Looking Back, The Cold Weather Was Just The Ticket
BY: Kevin Rousseau
After a month-long, self-imposed exile from all things Patriots, I'm back. First off, go out and buy the NFL Films DVD of last season. The memories revisited make it well worth the price. But before we turn the page and look forward to next year, I'll put forth one last commentary on the 2003 season.
In short, the Patriots won in good part because of determination, skill, hard work but just as importantly: the cold, snowy weather and their fans.
Since this is the offseason, I might be a little rusty and not have a lot of zip on my fastball but I'll ask you to bear with me as I regain my mid-season form.
Okay, let's see…………..
Last year, I was diagnosed with what is called ventricular tachycardia. Basically, it means that my heart races for no good reason. Watching the newly released DVD on the last season, my heart started beating in double time as Givens won it in Mile High, Manning looked average, and Vinatieri was ice at the end again. But more than any of these moments, my ticker really took off again when the footage of the Titans playoff game was shown. More than the Colts victory or the Panthers victory, the Titans playoff victory stands out as the signature moment of the season.
Perhaps more than winning fifteen games in a row or winning another Super Bowl, my lasting memory about last season for me will be the advancement to a new level of intimacy in the relationship between the team and its fans. Patriots' fans are now a special breed and are no longer a doormat for Jets, Dolphins, or Steelers fans to enjoy a good laugh over.
There are perhaps seven other teams in the League where its fans would turn out for snow storm after snow storm and cold temps after unbearably cold temps. I would count the Bills, Steelers, Packers, Bears, Giants, Broncos and Browns as the teams that have fans that could be considered in the same cold weather class as Patriots Nation. The next time a fan from Washington, Baltimore or Houston accuses you, the Patriots fan, of being a fair weather fan, ask them if they have ever spent four hours inside a frozen food locker and enjoyed it? Well, I did and I would do it again.
And, please. Dome teams don't count no matter how faithful their fans are such as in Minnesota. Nor do teams in warm weather cities like Dallas or Miami count. Do you think that the Miami Dolphins form a bond with their fans when it is a sauna on a Sunday afternoon in September? The answer is no, of course not. Winning in cold weather brings a team and its fans together. It is essentially saying to one another, "We survived and succeeded in these conditions together. Thank you and way to go."
I have one brother. He is a very important person in my life. Growing up, we got along pretty well but never totally connected as I was a sports freak and he was more level headed. He was never a big sports fan until two years ago when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl title. Now, he is a die-hard Sox fan and loves the Patriots with all of his heart.
Due to a nasty col, he went to the Oakland playoff game in the snow two years ago instead of my father. My brother and I shared that night's experience together. This past January, with my dad watching the Tennessee game in Las Vegas (A cold weather trend here for him, wouldn't you say?), my brother took his place next to me for that night.
I imagine that when I look back on the lifetimes of Brian and I years from now, I'll think back on many good memories and a few fisticuffs that we shared. But front and center will be the image of my brother and I high-fiving and celebrating after each of these two great games. I can still look over and see him with his scarf around his nose and mouth, his hood up, looking just like Han Solo in Hoth gear.
I've never been closer to my brother than I am now and I have the cold, snowy weather and the Patriots to thank for it. That's what will set last year apart for me.
I'm back and ready to tackle free agency, the draft (Aren't mock drafts a lot like dandelions? Just when you thought you've seen them all, another one pops up.), mini camp, training camp, and the regular season of 2004. Bring it on.
Feel free to drop me a line. I can be reached at email@example.com.
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