February 06, 2005
Has Patriot Nation Become Desensitized?
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
JACKSONVILLE -- Amidst the rubble of a 46-10 Super Bowl loss to Chicago some 19 years ago, it would be incredulous that this subject would someday come up in the future.
That feeling might have been doubled after a 35-21 loss to Green Bay eight years ago.
These last 12 months have been unlike no other in New England. Last February 1st, the Patriots won the second Super Bowl in their existence, an electrifying 32-29 win over Carolina in Houston. And on October 27th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Red Sox pulled off the mother of all championship wins in area history with a four-game sweep of the Cardinals to win the World Series. Now, the Patriots are 24 hours away from a second straight Super Bowl win if they can defeat Philadelphia Sunday at AllTel Stadium.
A Saturday morning report in the Globe (Brian McQuarrie) portrayed fans as “blasé”. Another Saturday Globe column (Dan Shaughnessy) ended with this: “Meanwhile, there is work to be done for Scott Pioli. Super Bowl tomorrow night. Victory parade in Boston Tuesday. Draft meetings with scouts start Thursday.” Routine, right?
Sidebar: In the previous paragraph, borrowed material that was not mine was properly credited. Someone call the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and tell them that plagiarism does not occur at this typewriter.
Fess up now. Do you feel confident about Sunday? Comfortable? Smug? Arrogant? Or, pray tell, blasé? After what the Patriots and Red Sox have done in the last year, it’s almost like, how can’t you feel at least one of these things?
Here are your Patriots. Second year in a row at the show. Second year in a row as favorites. They smothered the top offense and bludgeoned the top defense in order to get to this game. You have the best coaching staff in the league, the best postseason quarterback in the league, and the best clutch kicker in the league. Go find someone who bet on the Eagles and get them to explain themselves.
This is becoming like the Celtics when they won all those titles. In 1966, this writer was finishing up second grade. The Celtics proceeded to win their eighth straight NBA championship. How did you feel, if you were a Celtic fan back then and remember those glory days? Eight titles in a row? Not all of us have free access to Bob Ryan, and maybe even he wouldn’t be able to elucidate since he joined the Globe the following year. Those of you who do remember, it must have become merely a rite of passage, the Celtics win, as usual. Ho hum.
That amazing Celtic run took place from 1957 to 1969. Thirteen seasons, eleven titles. What we have right now is two titles in twelve months, and Sunday perhaps makes three. This run has not marked the time like the Celtics. But you might be suckered into feeling like that. This championship thing is becoming routine for some of you, you might be thinking.
Wow. Is this perhaps becoming routine? Jeez, we gotta go to another parade on Tuesday? But I was just there in October, screaming for the Sox. Another rally at City Hall? I only feel like fighting those crowds once every two or three years. I can’t get psyched for another victory parade. I’ll watch those duck boats on TV this time. The Sox rolling rally was the parade to end all parades. I just can’t get up for another one.
Is this how you feel?
If so, this is to try and put all these wonderful things in perspective. The worst thing that can happen is to get too comfortable and expect a Super Bowl win Sunday, only to watch in horror as the Eagles wind up with the jack instead of the Patriots. The thought of Terrell Owens celebrating with a Vince should sicken everyone loyal to the Patriots.
Patriot Nation must fully understand that the Eagles can very well win the game on Sunday. They aren’t favoured to, and perhaps won’t, but they still could. They are a very good football team, with lots of talent and good coaching. Jim Johnson could devise a defensive scheme to put the shackles on Tom Brady and Corey Dillon. Andy Reid may have out-maneuvered Bill Belichick with his handling of Owens, who knows.
Super Bowl upsets do happen. The Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, that alone should be enough to make you restless tonight. The following year, Kansas City cut down the Purple People Eaters. Lest we not forget that the Patriots were 14-point dogs against the Rams three years ago.
Patriot Nation should never, but never, take this prosperity for granted. Belichick, Scott Pioli, Bob Kraft and the entire organization has set up a machine which is cranking out wins like Henry Ford used to crank out Model-T’s. You absolutely never know when this prosperity will end. Pittsburgh has not won a Super Bowl since XIV even though that was their fourth in six years. Miami has not won one since VIII. Those super wins by the Jets and Chiefs were the only such wins in their history.
Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel are both gone after tomorrow. Maybe they were the keys to this run. Maybe next year starts a 40-year Super Bowl drought. You can’t predict the future. Did Dan Marino think for a second that Super Bowl XIX, his second year in the league, would be his only big show? You simply don’t know how things will play out as the years go by.
So, here’s some advice for all. Approach tomorrow as if this is it for forty years. Pretend that every starter for the Patriots is a cap casualty, and that Belichick is getting burned out and wants out after next year. Pretend also that Mayor Tom Menino is going to draft a new city ordinance banning public celebrations due to crowd control and safety issues. Make Sunday seem like the end, and not merely the continuance.
That will make you feel the right way. Anticipatory. Nervous. Grateful if the Patriots win. This blasé stuff is for Yankee fans. Shaughnessy had it right when he said “you love all your championships”. Never expect them, and always want more.
That said, this writer will be hunkered down at home in front of the TV set, feasting on munchies with the family, and thinking of his late father at kickoff. Four hours later, we hope to be back here at this typewriter, writing about the continuation of a great legacy instead of the end of one.
A legacy which we all should appreciate, not expect.
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