With Jabar Gaffney signing a four year, ten million dollar deal with the Denver Broncos late last month, Gaffney's short lived tenure as a New England Patriot has come to a close.
Gaffney signed with the Patriots early in the 2006 season after being cut by Philadelphia, with New England short on depth at the wide receiver spot. Gaffney stayed with the Patriots for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, with a one year contract taking him through each year.
Gaffney's first season in New England featured a less than stellar wide receiver crew, and it was Gaffney who emerged as a dependable target for Tom Brady in spite of the also-rans surrounding him (read: Reche Caldwell).
While Gaffney was consistent and dependable as a third and fourth wide receiver, Gaffney's time in New England has unfortunately been marred in the eyes of the average Patriots fan.
The most painstaking mishap of his Patriots career came in November of 2008, in an 18-15 loss to Indianapolis, when Gaffney dropped what appeared to be a sure fire touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Cassel.
If fans allow their emotions to calm, and step back to review what Gaffney did as a Patriot, the picture shouldn't be so blemished.
Gaffney's safety valve status gave Tom Brady a dependable option should Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and at times Donte Stallworth be covered. And in 2006, Gaffney was essentially one of the few reliable targets Brady had.
One could make an argument that Stallworth, who was brought in on a one year deal in 2007 to fill the No. 2 wide receiver slot alongside Moss, was never as productive or dependable as Gaffney, who was technically the No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver.
Some of Gaffney's biggest contributions to the Patriots came in clutch moments, coming in the closing weeks of the 2007 season (four total touchdowns in weeks 12 through 16), and in the closing minutes of many games.
To highlight Gaffney's accomplishments in New England, and to dispel some of the emotional displeasure exhibited by typical "what have you done for me lately" Patriots fans, I have put together the below list of Gaffney's biggest games as a Patriot.
You know the type of fan this is directed at; the fan who loudly (and unappreciatively) proclaimed, upon Gaffney's signing with Denver, "good riddance, he cost us that game against the Colts, he's a bum."
Consider these the reasons Patriots fans should be thankful for Gaffney's time with the Pats, and equally consider them the reasons fans should be hopeful New England finds a capable replacement for Gaffney:
For the Short-Sighted Fan - Gaffney's top 10 football games as a New England Patriot:
- 2006-07 Divisional Playoff vs San Diego: 10 receptions, 100 yards, TD
- 2006-07 Wild Card Playoff vs New York Jets: 8 receptions, 104 yards
- Week 14, 2007: 7 receptions, 122 yards, TD vs Pittsburgh
- Week 11, 2008: 7 receptions, 86 yards, TD vs NYJ
- Week 12, 2007: 6 receptions, 87 yards, TD vs Philadelphia
- Week 12, 2008: 5 receptions, 88 yards @ Miami
- Week 14, 2008: 4 receptions, 48 yards @ Seattle
- Week 16, 2007: 5 receptions, 82 yards, TD vs Miami
- Week 16, 2008: 5 receptions, 90 yards vs Arizona (Note: discounted due to the game's outcome)
- 2007 Conference Championship vs SD: 1 reception, 12 yards, TD (Note: a playoff TD is certainly top 10 eligible)
Biggest Play as a Patriot: Week 13, 2007: Eight yard touchdown reception at Baltimore (Note: This touchdown kept the "Pursuit of Perfection" alive in the waning moments of the game, sealing a win for the Pats).
In conclusion, the above game logs are certainly nothing to proverbially sneeze at. I, for one, have full appreciation for Gaffney's performance while he was with New England, and one small blunder vs Indianapolis in 2008 will not succeed in removing that appreciation.
New England Yahoos should re-consider their evaluation of Gaffney's New England career, and tip their collective caps in tribute to his successful tenure.