Monday, September 08, 2008

Strangely Liberated

As with everyone else that even remotely follows football, I was shocked by the news that Tom Brady suffered a season ending injury to his knee. (Living in Washington, DC, I did not find out this news until later in the day, not being able to watch the game on TV.) Maybe I shouldn't have been shocked - the Patriots O-line was exposed for its weaknesses in the last games of the past season and in the preseason. Plus, these type of injuries happen to the best of players (with Manning and Favre being the exceptions). But Brady has the third longest active streak behind previously mentioned Manning and Favre, so it was shocking that the indomitable Brady, had been dominated. By a belly flop, no less.

However, I digress from my title. On revelation that Mr. Brady will be out for the season, I felt strangely liberated. At the opening of the season, the Patriots had been named again as favorites to win the Superbowl for the umpteenth year in a row. Anything less than a Superbowl win would be a letdown. Each game had to be won and every loss would be studied and dissected to no end by both coaches and the talking heads. Now, I can just enjoy the season as every other fan of the other NFL teams not named the Patriots. If the Pats go to the Superbowl, it would be a joyous occassion, not a required "date with destiny." I will continue to be upset by the losses and expect the best, but now will be excited when the Pats win, not disappointed if they don't win by enough.

Don't get me wrong, I would still much rather have Brady in the game, but I just feel that maybe I can enjoy this season a little more knowing there are no preordained requirements. Also, knowing that Brady will have a full year to rest and recover makes me look forward to next year, in addition to enjoying this year.


Adawg said...

John - when I first saw the title of your post, I scratched my head a little. After reading it, I definitely see your point. At a minimum, it will make the season less of a foregone conclusion...

Johnny Rooster said...

From the Sports Guy:

Q: I'm still in the "bargaining" phase of coping with this Tom Brady injury. Is there any advice you can offer to help me get through to acceptance as soon as possible? In times like these, I turn to you, Mr. Sports Guy. Please help me make sense of all this.
-- Tim B., Merrimack, N.H.

SG: I have five silver linings for you. First, the Patriots were in a no-win situation heading into the season: They were America's villains, everyone expected them to win, and even if they won, they were supposed to win. That's never fun. Maybe this injury will end up liberating them in a weird way. Second, the whole (cue up Pat Summerall's voice) "the New England Patriots have chosen to come out as a team" dynamic shifted a little when Brady became a mega-celebrity and the offense started breaking records left and right -- tackles could whiff on blocks, cornerbacks could give up big plays, linebackers could take bad angles, and none of it mattered. The offense covered up every mistake. Right up until the last two minutes of Super Bowl XLII. Now it's a normal football team again -- everyone has to do his job or the team will lose. Could that give them some extra motivation? Possibly. Third, did you see the AFC last week? Only Pittsburgh and Tennessee's D looked good. It's wide-open. Fourth, Brady or no Brady, the Pats have the easiest schedule in the league -- the NFL did everything but schedule Georgetown and Columbia in December for them.

Fifth -- and most importantly -- they suddenly have the "Nobody Believed In Us!" factor on their side, which I've been arguing for the past year has emerged as the single most underrated force in sports. The '08 Giants had it, so did the '07-08 Celtics, the '08 Jayhawks, the '06 Cardinals … hell, even Rashad Evans had it when he coldcocked Chuck Liddell last week. Nobody believes in the '08 Patriots without Brady. This might be a good thing, right?

Um … right?

(Oh, who am I kidding? We're screwed. I will now attempt to hang myself with my Wes Welker jersey.)