As a sports fan, I am incredibly lucky to have moved to Boston when I did in 1996. Since I've lived here, I've been fortunate enough to see the Patriots and the Red Sox win multiple championships.
A fraternity brother of mine I hadn't heard from in a long time reminded me of this today - he remembered the time when CBS switched away from the only Pats game I was able to watch in my years at Drexel - in the first quarter - since they were getting pounded - by the Colts. I remember my friends laughing at my misery, but I proudly proclaimed that the Pats would win a SuperBowl long before the Eagles would. But who would have believed that? Things weren't looking so good back in the fall of 1992.
But things started turning around. The great Bill Parcells was hired as the head coach. The Pats drafted Drew Bledsoe. Their record went from 2-14 (1992), to 5-11 (1993), to 10-6 (1994). They actually made it to another Super Bowl in 1996, and things were looking good until Desmond Howard ran back a kickoff that broke the game open - and New England's heart. As you all know, everything changed in 2001 when Bledsoe was knocked out of a game with the Jets with a life-threatening injury, and an little-known backup named Tom Brady led our team to it's first Super Bowl. I don't know about you, but everyone watching that game with me sat in silence for a couple of minutes after Vinatieri's field goal split the uprights. We were used to disappointment, and knew that something bad was going to happen - but funny thing, it didn't. It's been one heckofa run since then.
It's interesting that when excellence becomes commonplace your perception of what is normal changes. This is especially true in the case of the Patriots. For instance, there was a point when my daughter was almost two and the Patriots hadn't lost a game in her lifetime. The day after they won the Super Bowl in 2001, I stopped at the Sports Authority on the way into work and bought two champoinship shirts, because who knew how long it was going to be until they won another one - if at all? When they did it again in 2003, I bought one shirt a couple of months later when they were on sale. I can't even find the shirt I bought in 2004. They were one catch shy of going to the SuperBowl last year, and they're going again this year!
This is how it must have been like to be a 49ers fan when Joe Montana was QB, or a Bulls fan when Michael Jordan was leading them to multiple championships. These are the times you're going to tell your grandkids about, like your grandfather might have talked about seeing Unitas or Starr play.
So if you're a younger Pats fan: watch this team, enjoy, and appreciate what you're seeing. Who knows how long it's going to be before you can experience something like this again?
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