A massive upset.
An injury that shook a region.
A story of a quarterback than seemed to come right out of a fairy tale, yet didn't exactly have a storybook ending.
...so what is due for 2009-2010?
The past two seasons for the New England Patriots and their fans have probably been two of the most agonizing, painful, entertaining, intriguing, and stressful years of their franchises history...hell...you could make an argument that the Patriots '07-08 and '08-09 campaigns were two of the craziest and most eventful in NFL history.
If someone told me than in a span of just two seasons I'd see my favorite team: miss out of perfection by a ball caught on a helmet, be accused of cheating and have to deal with the entire Spygate controversy, have to suffer through the news of Tom Brady's season-ending injury, introduce Matt Cassel and eventually see him succeed, and lastly, miss the playoffs even with an 11-5 record...I would honestly tell you to go fuck yourself. I'd tell you that that's not even something to joke about. I'd say that the day all of that happens I would kill everyone around me, then myself. I would believe all of that to be impossible.
But that shit happened my friends.
I'm afraid to say this, but what's in store for 2009? Surely nothing can be as bad as the past two years; however, I then remember that we have to deal with an arm full of rumors about Tom Brady and his recovering knee. I expect talk to start pretty soon as it appears the Patriots will franchise Matt Cassel. This shows precaution. This shows having a back-up option. This shows that Tom Brady may not be back at the beginning of next year, or at all, but what scares me the most is a different scenario...
What if Brady returns and simply isn't the same quarterback he used to be? What if his knee just can't function him as well as it used to. We could be looking at a less mobile, weaker, less accurate quarterback.
What if the Patriots have kept Cassel around strictly by the idea that Brady may not be the same? What if Cassel is merely sitting around waiting until Brady struggles to the point where he has to be removed? Just thinking of this situation makes me shudder, but it's a situation nonetheless. After the things I've witnessed the past few years it would certainly not take me by surprise; I believe I'm numb to this heartbreak. But I can't help looking back at these past few years and be amazed by how quickly fortunes can change.
I remember watching Tom Brady's 60 Minutes interview in which he says: "some people [in my position] would think God, I've reached my goal, my dream, my life is complete...but me I think God, there's gotta be more than this."
I remember seeing that interview and realizing just what an amazing competitor Tom Brady was. To put in all the hard work he did before finally climbing to the top, before becoming a worldwide superstar. That one quote alone gave me more respect for the guy than I had previously (which was an awful fucking lot). Just a few years later, there's Tom, shattering NFL records, going 16-0, and trying to be the first QB to lead his squad to a 19-0 mark in NFL history.
Then the wheels fell off...or maybe he lost a little bit of his luck. The Patriots found themselves down late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, and once more Tom Brady lead a crucial drive that resulted in a lead-changing touchdown. I thought to myself, "wow, this man has done it again."
We all know the story from then on out. And we all know what happened to Brady in the Patriots first drive of the 2008 season opener. The man sat out all of preseason to avoid aggravating his previously injured ankle and is greeted by a season, and career-threatening knee injury. I remember thinking that nothing else could go wrong at that point.
Most people know the story by now. In steps Matt Cassel, who hasn't started a game since high school and leads the Patriots to an 11-5 record; however, the Patriots miss the playoffs and become only the second team in NFL history to go 11-5 and miss the playoffs. Yes sir, we must have hit rock bottom (in terms of luck at least). 2009 HAS to be better. We just HAVE to see Brady return right? Cassel is just a precaution right? We'll be competing for a Super Bowl right?
I'd certainly like to think so.
But this ain't no fucking story tale anymore.