Life After Brady’s Knee
I’m a die hard Patriots fan. I live in New York. Ever since the sun came up on February 4, 2008, times have been rough.
For six straight months I tried my best to duck all talk of football, the perfect season, the miracle catch, Eli Manning, the Giants. For six moons I attempted to convince myself that Mercury Morris was nothing more than the insolent next door neighbor on a short-lived sitcom.
I walked the streets of Gotham with my head down. I pretended I didn’t understand street vendors whenever they pitched me a Giants championship T-shirt. I changed the channel every time I heard the words “Relive the historic season of the New York Giants”. I playfully — and painfully — feigned amnesia when coworkers and acquaintances broached the topic. I abruptly dismissed any chatter amongst my friends; sometimes through threats, others through a mere slow shake of the head. Please guys, just spare me.
For 219 days I waited, uncharacteristically hushed and vulnerable. I — like many out there — patiently loafed in the wake of Super Bowl XLII.
For all Patriots fans, those darks months helped us come to grips with the fact that what was done in that game couldn’t be undone. Yet that empty feeling was accompanied by a renewed, albeit reserved, swagger. Time might have stood still since 00:00 of the Super Bowl, but days were passing. Redemption was brewing.
Whether our suddenly fragile fan complexes would allow it to surface or not, the fact was that a part of us was waiting to see who dared beat the Patriots again. Another perfect season may not have been expected, but the notion was stuck there in the basement of our consciousness, idling like a custom softail in neutral.
September 7 was the day Tom Brady would finally throw that Harley into gear and see how far it could carry us through The Season After Imperfection.
Then it was over. Brady — along with the mission — crumpled up in a heap on the Foxborough grass not a quarter into the first game of the year. We all thought back to June, when Paul Pierce appeared to tear apart his knee before the NBA Finals had even warmed up. We comforted ourselves with the hope that the script would be rewritten for Brady, that he’d come jogging back onto the field to the tune of Rocky sometime later in the game or the season.
Not this time.
This time, in a town that has experienced unparalleled winning this decade — but is historically conditioned to expect the worst — the worst was apparently meant to be.
Now we must turn back the clocks to another day, a day when the Patriots were a team actually competing in a sport, passably at best. Lest we forget that’s how the true identity of this team was forged. Not through multiple titles, offensive records and devious behavior, but through an ironclad and all-consuming concept of “T-E-A-M”. Those were the Patriots the nation grew to love, the ones that came storming out of the Super Dome tunnel as one.
If you’re desperate for a silver lining, that’s just it. This is an opportunity for the Patriots, a chance to hearken back to a time when the men in red, white and blue were as blue collar as the people cheering them on. When neutral fans came together in support of them, and not against them. Although they became a steely juggernaut, the Patriots used to symbolize hope and overcoming the odds.
That’s how they must move forward without their leader.
As mighty as the Patriots have been this decade, it doesn’t matter how you slice it: the two most catastrophic plays in the history of the franchise happened within 10 minutes of one another. The combined impact of The Helmet Catch and Brady’s Knee will be felt for years to come. Their place is already permanently lodged in the annals of NFL history.
History. For now, that’s what the Pats are.
For the first time since 2002, the playing field is level.
Week 2 Picks (Home Teams in CAPS)
NY Giants over
Indianapolis over MINNESOTA
Last Week: 10-6 Overall: 10-6