January 23, 2005
Don't Take The Patriots For Granted
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Over the past three years in this space, I’ve tried my best to entertain you and help you understand and enjoy all things Patriots.
So you’ve probably come here looking for an analysis on how the Patriots embarrassed the Steelers on Sunday by a score of 41-27.
I’m sorry. You’re going to have to look somewhere else for that. I’m writing this one for myself.
Let me explain.
Old habits die hard.
Old habits like that sinking feeling you still get - even after the Red Sox won it all - when the other team starts to come back late in a championship-deciding game. Admit it. You, too, were sweating a little when the Steelers had a first and goal early in the fourth quarter.
Old habits like being well prepared, playing opportunistic football and scoring as a result of those opportunities. Habits like having a quarterback that always shows up for the big game and always does enough to win the tilt. And habits like having a kicker that you know is going to make the big kick.
You could come up with examples of your own but the one habit that doesn’t die, no matter how many times I experience it, is the sense of being overwhelmed with joy at the sight of seeing the Patriots put on those schnazzy Champions hats at the end of a game. You think I would be used to it by now, but I’m not.
I’m not because I know that life is short and unpredictable and you have to savor the special moments; no matter how frequent or infrequent they pass through your life. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one recently who is not around for this one. Or perhaps you have a new love since the last one. And perhaps this is the last AFC Championship for a long, long time (Are you laughing at that last one? Well if you are, then go ahead and ask a Saints, Lions, Browns, Colts or Chiefs fan just how much they would crave the opportunity to pay $25 for a Conference Champions hat). Whatever your station in life, you are fortunate and blessed to a Patriots fan in the here and now.
You see, I’m still not used to the sight of trophies being raised for my team because I remember the bad years. Those bad years make the modern-day Arizona Cardinals look like a model franchise. How can I forget hiding my head in shame after embarrassing incidents both on and off the field. Yet for some reason (Call me naïve or stupid, or both. I don’t care.), I kept wearing old Pat Patriot to school. And I kept hoping that someday, somehow my team would not be laughed at and dismissed with a flick of the wrist.
Perhaps as you light up another cigar you’ll remember Bill Parcells being hired and excitingly saying to your college roommate at the time “There’ll be no more kicking around the New England Patriots.” Or you remember getting tickets with your buddies and being one of only 26,571 fans to see the Patriots demolish the Colts 38-0 in the freezing cold back in 1993 and thinking that this is what it must feel like to win the Super Bowl. You may recall a year later seeing the Patriots come back from a 20-0 deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings in 1994 with your grandfather who isn’t doing so hot these days.
And then you start to remember all the winning over the last decade that seem to have started on that beautiful November afternoon.
Oh, my. The winning.
There sure has been a lot of it in Patriot Nation over the last ten years, hasn’t there? Truthfully, probably more winning than we really do deserve. I don’t know what football god we pleased but we have sure hit the daily double at Suffolk Downs when it comes to football karma in these parts.
But please him we did. So that’s why you got to live, act and celebrate like this is the Patriots’ first Super Bowl appearance. Because it could go away in a hurry.
And then all you’ll be left with are memories.
Memories like making the Steelers pay for three interceptions and a fumble. Or how about how the thought that every time the Steelers tried to get back into the game during the second half the Patriots responded? Or what about the dominance the Patriots have demonstrated over the last two weeks against two supposedly excellent teams.
I mean, they just didn’t win. They made a statement with their blowouts over the Colts and Steelers. Perhaps even one for the ages.
Perhaps it will be such a statement that you will look back twenty years from now and smile when they show those NFL Film reels of past Super Bowls and you see Tom Brady hit Deion Branch for a touchdown. And I’ll guarantee I’ll smile when I see this clip as I prepare the guacamole dip for my Super Bowl LIX party and look over and see my twenty year-old son, Jacob, in the other room. My smile will tell the story about how I held him as a three-month old and watched them raise another AFC Championship trophy on television while the cold wind and snow blew outside that evening.
I hope you don’t take this one for granted. I surely won’t.
Idle Zinger thoughts while hoping I can get my car onto the next episode of “Pimp Up My Camry:”
You know it’s not a good sign when your Governor shows up on the six o’clock news wearing a sweater.
I forgot how aggravating it is to have Gil and Gino “blacked out” for all of us outside of the metro Boston area thanks to the NFL’s exclusive rights agreement with Westwood One for Conference championship games and the Super Bowl. Having Sirius doesn’t help out this cause as it is not synched up with the television feed.
You may not care for the team on the field but you should remember that without Steelers owner Dan Rooney’s intervention the Patriots would have never have stayed in Massachusetts.
Some people have dirty movies stashed in their closet, I have football jerseys that I got on the cheap at A.J. Wright and TJ Maxx. To each their own.
An item that is probably only of interest to me: Besides being the backup goal line fullback, Russ Hochstein is also the backup long snapper for the Patriots.
Despite being without the NFL Network on my cable service, I pleasantly discovered that I can still listen to their flagship daily program “Total Access” as it is simulcast on Sirius’ NFL channel every night at 7 p.m.
Few people this side of the Pope wield more considerable influence over the masses than the guy with the flash orange gloves who sits at the twenty yard line and tells the game officials when to take a tv timeout.
As I understand it, many teams, the Packers and Giants among them, allow season ticket holders to will their tickets to family members or friends. Why won’t the Patriots do the same?
You can argue it six ways to Sunday but Art Monk should be in the Hall of Fame. Catching a ball in 183 consecutive games should count for something. Only Jerry Rice has caught a ball in more consecutive games.
Brace yourselves for the EA Sports/ESPN colossal merger that just went down a week or so ago. Madden will never be the same.
This column is dedicated to my wife’s dear friend, Amy, who is recovering from a recent massive stroke and in loving memory of Patsfans.com proprietor Ian Logue’s grandmother who passed away recently. Life is short, gang. Embrace the ones you love.
And even if you don’t think that Camrys should have running boards, I would still like to hear from you. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Don’t forget to check me out at 8:20 on Friday mornings on Bangor, Maine’s sports radio leader, WZON 620 “The Zone.” You can listen over the internet at www.zoneradio.com This column also appears in the The Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, ME), the Twin City Times (Lewiston/Auburn, ME), the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, ME), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, ME), the Village Soup Times (Camden/Rockland/Belfast, ME), and the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham, ME).
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