In New England, Every Disaster Is an Opportunity

Jim BouchardCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2008

Ok Pats fans; we've seen harder times...At least some of us have. "Tom Terrific" is down but not out. He'll be back next year. Let's see how many of you "nouveau fans" stick it out.

Personally, I hope most of you jump ship like proverbial rats and open up some seats for those of us who have witnessed true hard times in Foxboro.

In the movie Apollo 13, Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, turns to his team and says, "Gentlemen, we've lost the moon." In the very next moment focus completely shifts to a mission of survival.

In the same way, the Boston press corps has been uncharacteristically focused on the mission at hand. Rather than throwing in the towel, most predict that the Pats may have just conceded the Super Bowl, but Matt Cassel's mission is one of preserving a contender.

His focus doesn't need to be a repeat of Brady's Miracle Moment. We expect him to be a solid game manager, play within himself, and keep the Pat's winning character intact.

Of course, maybe some of that optimism is due to a lingering memory of a skinny kid from Michigan nobody knew, but Belichick trusted, bounding into the NFL history books in February of 2002. Is Cassel another Brady? Not likely, but on Monday, the Boston sports commentators seem slightly out of character.

Is this our old beloved bellicose Boston press corps? Where's the gloom and doom and predictions of a complete collapse of the Patriots Way you new fans seem to devour at the threat of any rough New England weather?

No, even Fred Smerlas is saying "In Belichick we trust!" After all, wasn't this the same Belichick who signed a long-shot draft pick whose combine photo looked like a picture of Bill Gates without his glasses?

Throughout the preseason, the shots were fired: What the hell were Bill and Scott thinking? Why didn't they make a play for any of the half-dozen semi-busted up and battered, but veteran tossers marketing themselves for a second shot at glory?

Because Belichick and Pioli know what they're doing. If they thought there was a better quarterback on the market, we'd already have Simms or Culpepper in a silver helmet. We still may, but it looks like it's Cassel's job to lose! At least until Tom is done with his rehab.

Some of us remember the days of Steve Grogan taking pounding after pounding, as the Pats slowly built a decent line around him. We remember freezing our hind parts to the aluminum bleachers with a scant couple thousand friends as the Pats logged disappointment after disaster.

We remember almost losing the team to the Sullivans' well intentioned but horribly-mismanaged schemes and deals. We remember Tony Eason, the phantom roughing call versus the Raiders in '76, and the rise and fall of Plunkett and Bledsoe. And those were the good times!

We remember the euphoria of the road wins in '85 and the deflation of the Division III Pats against the Big Bad Bears. Of course, that memory also features Tony Eason.

So, go ahead and jump ship. Cancel your Sunday Ticket, or better yet, put your season tickets on eBay. Those of us who lost our seats to you and the corporate no-shows will be glad to go to Gillette this year because...

Who knows?

A career backup, a guy who hasn't started a real game since high school, a guy who can't possibly fill a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famers shoes for even one season...

This sounds like a great story in the making. I'd like to be there in person to see what happens!