Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Loss of Brady, loss of words

Packer fans, now I understand. Bulls fans, you too.

There’s a reason we watch every Sunday. We feel like we’re part of the team, one of the guys. We yell, “fumble!” at the tv screen when the ball pops loose, and we ask the coach – by first name only, of course – what he was thinking with play action on third and one. But when you get to root for a superstar, a sure-thing Hall of Famer, like a Brett Favre, a Peyton Manning, a Tom Brady, it makes cheering that much better. Your heart skips a beat each week when the offense takes the field because you can’t wait for that perfect spiral, that first touchdown pass. Just watching from your couch, you’re on cloud nine.

Now, according to, Tom Brady is out for the season with a torn ACL, and I feel like I just had to put my dog to sleep.

And I’ve never had a dog.

No, I feel like my team just lost the Super Bowl, falling one game short of perfection. Oh wait, that was seven months ago.

This is even worse.

For seven seasons we’ve watched No. 12 drop back to pass, standing calmer than a midsummer breeze in the pocket, firing touchdown passes left and right. Mistakes were a rarity, while third down conversions were aplenty. Brady brought us three Super Bowl rings, an MVP trophy, one Super Bowl-less AFC Championship ring and a whole lot of oohs and ahhs. But now, like we said for 86 years before 2004 for our other beloved franchise, we’ll have to wait ‘til next year.

Melancholy? Yeah, that’s a start. Dejected? Sounds about right.

In football, injuries happen. It’s a physical sport. We just never thought this – the one thing that couldn’t possibly happen – would actually happen. We thought he was immortal. We laughed when he was listed as “probable” for dozens of consecutive games.

And now we want to cry. We took it for granted.

People outside of New England can’t seem to understand why Brady is so great. I’ve heard, “If Brett Favre had Randy Moss and that kind of protection, he’d put up those numbers, too.”

But we know that’s not true. Ole Brett would still throw off his back foot – much like our formal signal caller Mr. Bledsoe – and chuck up floaters begging to get picked – like he did this afternoon, only somehow it was caught by a Jet in the end zone. And we knew that Brady was the best quarterback in the league before Moss and Wes Welker were served to him on a silver platter. We remember the David Patten, Troy Brown, David Givens days. Last year just made the playing field equal with Manning, only our golden boy blew him out of the water.

Brady always seemed to have the answer. He always made the right decision, which is what quarterback is really about. Comeback drives, late touchdowns, even scrambling for first downs, we saw it all from Tom. When they said he couldn’t throw the deep ball, he proved them wrong. When they said he was No. 2 to Manning, he proved them wrong again.

For seven seasons we’ve been spoiled, not just because of the wins and the division titles, but because of the experience, because watching Tom run the show brought smiles to our faces. We knew we were watching greatness.

The Belichick-Brady era has been a fantasy-like reality. But without Tom, it’s like Neverneverland without Peter Pan.

And I never want to grow up.

Cheeseheads, you’ll watch Aaron Rogers, but it won’t be the same. Bulls fans, has it been the same without MJ?

I still won’t miss a kickoff, but that sense of nostalgia will never cease, until I see Tom in the shotgun sometime in the way-too-distant future.