August 26, 2008
Opening Day Begins Answering The Questions
BY: Kevin Rousseau
So I've been at this patsfans.com column writing-thing for six years now and there are still times when I have no idea what I'm going to write about when I start typing away. Generally though, things always work out okay and I'll end up banging out eight hundred words a few hours later. Really for me, the toughest part is just starting.
I love the beginning of each NFL season. It is the start of a story that will have a beginning, middle and end. Injuries, controversies and emerging stars will captivate us for the next four months. Hope is alive and well in many NFL cities like Arizona, Cleveland and San Francisco that long droughts through the NFL desert are about to come to an end. In other areas like Dallas, Indianapolis and here in New England we wonder if our teams, which look pretty decent on paper, will be able to dominate the schedule as they have done so in years gone by.
Like in a Chinese buffet, there are no guarantees in the NFL. Here in Patriot Nation, we found that out the hard way during the Super Bowl. This season, the hand of fate could whack the Patriots back down to earth very quickly. Conversely, it could make us forget about the disaster of Super Bowl XLII if they can return to the show and grab a fourth Vince Lombardi trophy. Beginning to discover the answers to these questions over the next few months is the exciting part of opening day.
Will the offensive line come together and perform at the high level that they have been at for years? A bad performance in the Super Bowl has made us all forget this. Can the team get over the loss of shut down cornerback like Asante Samuel? Will Jerrod Mayo turn into a franchise middle linebacker like most of us think he will? And what about the foot injury to The Franchise? Will it be a factor?
I was commenting to my dad the other day that it will be nice to have an home opening day 1pm on a Sunday as opposed to these crazy night games that the Patriots and their fans have been subjected to in recent years. The John Updikes of the world wax philosophical about opening day of the baseball season. But the one time I went to opening day, I was sipping a cold beer in 40-ish degree temperatures and by the fifth inning thinking "man, this is overrated after the first few innings."
Now compare that with opening day of the NFL season. In all likelihood, it will be shorts weather. The food and drink will be wonderful. The banter among the gang will be a blast at tailgate as we start another season of grill-lighting mishaps, food order screwups, unpleasant cigar experiments and more verbal clotheslines than Summer Slam '88. The field at Gillette Stadium will look great, the uniforms are sharp and something new will again feel very familiar.
Please forgive me, but the next sentence is extremely corny. At many points during the day, I'll think back to past years of childhood, adolescence, young adult hood and early parenthood with the Patriots being a bookmark. As fun as it is to look back, I can't wait to look forward.
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