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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Legacy of the 2007 Patriots

It's been a couple days since the Super Bowl. Am I over it? No. Actually, I don't think I'll ever get over it. Just like people still aren't over the '86 World Series. Though, I do realize I have to (somehow) move on. Part of me still can't believe I'm writing "these" articles. Ones about heartbreaking losses and the negative effects of such a great season. Sadly, there's nothing I can do about it. Until I invent the flux capacitor, the Patriots will always be 18-1.

I decided that I don't feel like spending the next few months depressed because my team blew the chance for football immortality. So, I guess you could call blogging about it part of my therapy.

As I listen to people (analysts not stupid "fans") discuss the game and read articles, I'm trying to figure out what exactly is this team's legacy. Maybe not to everyone, but even just to me. Like, what am I going to tell my children or grandchildren when they ask me about the 2007 Patriots. I've been thinking long and hard about this (even before the game). Why? Because I ask the same questions to my Dad and both my grandfathers when I talk about Boston sports teams that I never experienced (born in '85).

Do I sit down and tell them how they were the greatest team I ever saw with my own two eyes? Yet, they blew the biggest game (a.k.a. the Super Bowl) to a team from New York. Then, I never power walked with so much anger while exiting a bar (Looking back, I'm surprised I didn't literally shove and/or punch someone. I actually remember lightly grabbing and/or pushing a couple people out of my way. Still not sure if I want to include that in my story.).

Save for Dave Roberts' steal in the 2004 ALCS and Vinatieri's Super Bowl winning 48 yard field goal, I can't remember watching a greater play than Tom Brady to Randy Moss against the Giants. That play was unbelievable (sadly, avoided the cliche "perfect"). Maybe the best regular season game I've ever seen in any professional sport. I want to tell that story to someone 10 years from now. How I got sushi with my sister, Lori, and her boyfriend, Carlos, earlier in the night. Then, we watched the game. The Pats weren't doing anything, so Carlos took off his Randy Moss jersey. Guess what? Brady to Moss. Dropped pass. It's over, but wait. Brady to Moss again. Touchdown! Two men jumping up and down like we just won a million dollars. Now it's just this bitter sweet tale that reminds me of what could have been.

Or what about the Baltimore game? I'm sitting in my room watching the game. It's fourth down and hope looks lost. I literally say to myself out loud. "I just want you (Pats) to know that if you lose, I'll be okay. It's been a great run. It (perfection) just wasn't meant to be." Guess what? There's the timeout, there's the false start, there's the pass interference, there's the Gaffney touchdown. Then, after all that, the Pats tackle the Ravens at the one yard line to save the game. What a close call, but again it reminds me of what could have benn.

There's even the Indy and Philly games. Literally pacing in circles. Walking back and forth, yelling at the TV for something to happen in the fourth quarter. Both times they pulled it out, but still reminds me of what could have been.

So, maybe these sound like "pathetic" stories, but they mean a lot to me. This team meant a lot to me. Honestly, perfection meant a lot to me. I wanted them to do it. People forget, but way back in 2004, Don Shula said that the Patriots were the only team in the NFL that he thought could run the table. This 2007 team had its shot. Now, we (Patriot fans) have to listen to them gawk about their '72 team, which is a bunch of stiffs that aren't even one of the greatest teams of all time IMHO.

I never wanted to have to write this, but the '07 Pats are like what the '71 Bruins are to my Dad and many other Bostonians. Really both teams have a lot in common. Offensive powerhouses that set numerous records, but got shut down when it mattered most. The Bruins had Orr and Esposito. The Pats had Brady and Moss. Both teams had the league MVP. Both teams ran away with their division. Both teams peaked too soon. The Bruins came back in '72 to win the Cup, but let's be honest. The '71 team was the one that got away. It's the one banner that is missing in the Banknorth Garden. When you go in there, you look up and there's an empty spot where it should hang. If you go to Montreal, you'll find it, but it reads the wrong team name.

I've concluded that even if the Pats come back in '08, it won't heal the pain or lessen disappointment of '07. Nothing ever will. The '07 team's Super Bowl XLII banner will always be missing at Gillette Stadium. Instead it will be hanging in East Rutherford, NJ and it will read New York Giants.

So, what am I going to tell my kids and grandkids about the 2007 Patriots? They were the ones that got away. They SHOULD have been perfect, but broke my heart. I already lost my innocence in 2003, but I became a real sports fan in 2008.

One day you'll find out...

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