It's not easy living in New England if you aren't a Patriots fan. I like the Red Sox, and I like the Celtics, but I just cant bring myself around to like the Patriots. Never have jumped on that bandwagon, and I never will.
You see, I grew up a Giants fan in the 80's. Remember when Bill Parcells was still a relevant coach and there was a Simms who actually could play the quarterback position? Those were the days.
I cut my teeth every Sunday as a kid watching defensive greats like Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson. I was watching Morris and McKonkey score off of wondrous fluke-like runs and catches, and who could forget Bavarro, the Sylvester Stallone of the NFL?
I remember Mark Bavarro running 15 yards into the end zone with four defenders draped over his back trying to pull him down.
It was the defense that did it, though. As gruesome as it was, I was glued to the television when Lawrence Taylor put Thiesman out of football, or every concussion they gave Montana over the years. I was forever changed into a defensive fanatic.
I spent the next decade regrettably not paying too much attention to pro sports, but in the late 1990s, I started to awaken from my self-induced sports coma. I could feel the ground shake, I felt rumbling and crushing hits as I awoke. One smashing blow after another they called to me: Sapp! Brooks! Rice! Barber! Lynch!
I was awakened by a defensive squad that was led by the likes of no other: The king of defense, Monte Kiffin! And upon my return to the annals of sports legions, in a tribute to my Giants of old, I was to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan!
The Bucs had a great beginning to this decade and, after a coaching change, even won the franchise's first Super Bowl. It was an exciting time to be a Bucs fan. Unfortunately, we spent he last five years in extreme mediocrity. Poor records, first round of the playoffs eliminations, and a revolving door of quarterbacks and other players.
But, somewhere deep down, I feel that monster awakening again. Roaring as it screams down the tunnel and out into Raymond James stadium. Brooks! Barber! Adams! Ruud!
Here we are, going into Week Eight and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. We are the No. 1 ranked red-zone defense in the league, and our offense is actually scoring points.
It feels good, even if I have to suffer through the cold weather and constant attacks from Patriots fans, I have hope. As a Buccaneers fan, that is all I can ask for.
This piece was originally written in Week Eight of the 2008 NFL season. I was optimistic. Who was I to know that one of the greatest collapses in sports franchise history was to hit me in a matter of weeks.
A complete meltdown on every side of the ball. Monte Kiffin left Tampa for Tennessee, the Bucs would lose out, no playoffs, Gruden was fired, Derrick Brooks was released...ugh.
Okay, now that I coughed that hair ball up, it's time to look forward and carry on. I'll keep you posted.