March 19, 2008
Trying to Pick Up The Pieces
BY: Kevin Rousseau
It's been a long, cold winter here in Maine. Along with the permafrost layer of snow that has encapsulated my front yard, it's difficult to imagine getting rid of that funny feeling still left over in my stomach after the disaster that was Super Bowl XLII.
Sure, I've tried to move on and keep myself busy since the Super Bowl. I've taken an Advanced Coastal Navigation course, kept a regular date with the Celtics, tapped some trees along with my neighbor to make maple syrup, strived to give a good-faith effort at my place of employment and still kept going to the gym on a regular basis. But the trouble is no matter what I do, the current state of affairs for the New England Patriots just creep back into the front of my mind.
Walk into any department store and you are bound to find a clearance rack of Super Bowl XLII merchandise marked down to $2.99 with the logo "Who Wants It More?" written all over the product. "I know who wanted it more, Evelyn," I'll say to my two year-old daughter. "That's what is driving me bananas, little girl." In her own cute way, she'll stick a figurative fork in her daddy's eye by pointing to the product and say "Daddy, looook! Patriots!" How I wish I could trade places with her and share her innocence about the topic.
A few weeks after the Super Bowl--just around the time of my self-imposed ESPN ban was lifted--we got a love letter in the mail from Robert Kraft upping his demands from $89 per game to $117 per game. And oh by the way, there's a line of 50,000 or so behind you if you suddenly think this is a little too rich for your blood. Predictably, this set off a flood of e-mail activity among our crowd and resulted in people giving up a few games a year, or suddenly "getting too old to go to the games," or thinking about how in the hell are we going to find a second cousin, co-worker or a stranger down at Stop ‘n Shop who will give us $234 for two tickets to the final exhibition game each year.
Rightfully, this shameless money grab by the Krafts has rubbed a lot of longtime season ticket holders (myself included) very much the wrong way. If you want to see for yourself, just log onto the messageboard at Patsfans.com and read the honest assessment of people not being able to afford this roughly instant 30% increase in a tough economic climate. Like the Super Bowl, this is very hard to stomach; especially with the multi-million Patriot Place development shaping up next door and $50 rates for the privilege of renting a parking spot while at a game. I wouldn't have mind a "cost of living" increase of a gradual Red Sox-like nature but to pinch fans for this much of an increase in one shot is not "fan friendly" and certainly decertifies any notion that Robert Kraft is a fan just like the rest of us. And while I'm on the rant, can we stop referring to this guy as "Mr. Kraft" like he is our 8th grade chemistry teacher?
And then of course like this winter itself, Spygate just won't seem to go away. If you want to give it a small slice of the Super Bowl blame pie, that's fine. But really, the Patriots lost because the Giants dictated the game and were much more physical than the Patriots. The first time I heard there might be a tape of the Rams walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI, I felt my stomach drop. Since I was at the game, SB XXXVI is a sacred bookmark for my life. Messing with the pureness of this memory is the equivalent of finding out a nasty secret about a loved one after they have departed. You just don't know what pile to place your thoughts in from that point on.
For all of our sakes, let's hope that a) this guy Matt Walsh is the loose cannon that the character assassination of him has made him out to be; and b) he has nothing of substance; but most importantly c) the Patriots didn't use this tape and they were actually telling the truth about their use of video all along. If not, it's goodbye number seven draft pick and hello interim head coach Dom Capers. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that this one blows out to sea and we can get out of this with our reputations still in tact.
It hasn't been all bad. The team did re-sign Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney which essentially returns the same offense which set a record for most points scored in a season. The team predictably lost Asante Samuel to Philadelphia but it remains to be seen whether his production falls off after his big payday. Unlike Moss, Samuel was all about getting the last dollar. It is my unscientific opinion that this usually leads to a considerable drop off by said player.
Also in the good news front is the rumors swirling in Miami that Jason Taylor is heading out of town. Frankly, this could be one of the better offseason transactions for the Patriots as he bi-annually puts Tom Brady's health in jeopardy and enjoins Matt Light to stand with his hands on his hips in disbelief as his quarterback tries to get up off of his rear end. Down in New York, the desperate Jets appear willing to sign any available free agent this side of Dave Meggett in an attempt not to become irrelevant to the Giants and Patriots in this part of the country. And in Buffalo, well does it really matter what they do in the offseason?
Try as I might--I'll get there someday in the next few months, I promise you--I'll begin to look forward to the 2008 season. But until the time that I get out of my post-Super Bowl funk leads to me asking one question as I pull the bucket off the maple tree and hope it's full of sap:
"In what crazy way are they going to get eliminated next year?"
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.