October 27, 2008
In Football and Life, Finishing Strong Matters
BY: Kevin Rousseau
As much as I try to quit this column, I just can't.
I've been doing this column for Patsfans.com since 2002 and the ideas just don't come as fresh as they once did. Don't you know we've become a little spoiled since then? We've had a few heartbreakers along the way as well. After a while, I start to get the sense that all I'm doing is recycling old analysis and putting a new bow on it.
Also, I have a lot less time to do the column now than I used to due to my growing family and writing gigs elsewhere. I keep writing for Patsfans.com because I'm fiercely loyal to the site's proprietor, Ian, and his Herculean quest to consistently bring you folks the best fan website anywhere. And amazingly, there's still an incredible number of you that actually tune in week after week to hear what a blowhard like me has to say.
Then something like Sunday's game against the Rams happens and it's like getting a B-12 shot for my typing fingers. Suddenly, the column is a creative outlet there for the taking. Mix in some sad personal news received a short time after the game that can easily be tied into the Patriots and--Voila!--I got a point or two I would like to get across to you this week.
First the fun part. I don't know about you but I'm having a blast this year watching the Patriots. An absolute blast. The reason of course is that through seven games, they have met or exceeded virtually any non-delusional fan's expectations. Virtually all of us would have been tickled to death to be 5-2 after losing Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney and Rodney Harrison in quick fashion.
Amazingly, this is much more interesting than last season. There was little suspense on the road to (near) perfection. This season we can debate the progress of Matt Cassel, the fragility of the defensive secondary and have neighborhood contests centered around reciting the name of a rookie starting running back. We have no idea what will happen from week to week. Will they light it up a la the Denver game or pitch a stinker like they did against the Dolphins? It's all up for grabs.
In many ways, the parallel to the 2001 are becoming clearer by the week. Again, we are watching the progression of a new quarterback and cheering him on as he does something a little better each game and doesn't make the same mistake twice. Slowly, we are seeing some new unknown talent forced into roles and performing better than could be expected. Of course, we are left to marvel at the coaching that we are witnessing.
Just like in 2001, we are reminded that around the beginning of November nothing is close to being settled and there is a lot of football left to be played this season. They just beat a below-average Rams team without their two best players, Steven Jackson and Leonard Little, by a touchdown at home. I mean it was great but I wouldn't be reserving any duck boats anytime soon.
Looking back into our history is a good way to get some present day context whether it be in sports or in life.
You may recall I wrote a column back in the summer about taking my son to the Celtics parade and how it struck me that it was again a rite of passage in my life. In the column, I mentioned how I was allowed to go into Boston for the 1986 City Hall rally with my friend as my eighth grade year wore down. That friend and I met his father in town. His dad was always one of those guys that you never minded talking to when you went over to their house. Over the years, my friend Greg and I have drifted in and out of each other's lives due to college, moves out-of-state, and starting families.
And then because of this stupid little column a few years ago, he tracked me down and we re-connected. I'm sure you've had the same experience when I tell you that it doesn't take long to get back to square with an old friend. That old jacket in the closet still fits perfectly. His father even wrote in recently to say how much he enjoyed the column.
After a long courageous battle with cancer, Greg's father Ron died of liver cancer over the weekend. Greg wrote that he went out peacefully and with dignity and pride. A friend once made the point that there are no pockets on your shroud. The translation is that when your life is over you will have who you were as a person and the rest is details. Ron's shroud is a beautiful one.
Forgive the tie-in but I'm knocking two birds out of the sky with this one. In the NFL and in life, a good start is nice but a dignified finish is always worth remembering.
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