Despite the size of the massive linebackers, quickness of the shifty running backs, and speed of the downfield receivers, football is a game of short increments. It’s a game of inches and seconds, and this past Sunday at Gillette Stadium in front of a raucous opening crowd, the whole world saw how significant these seemingly minuscule measurements are.
Yes, Tom Brady’s injury was devastating, not just to Patriots nation but to the NFL as a whole. He was the MVP, the golden boy, the positive role model that the league loved to celebrate, but because of one play he’s out for the year and the fate of an entire franchise is in the air.
But for Patriots fans around the country it’s hard to say that this dreadful moment wasn’t foreseen. Luck and karma work both ways, and it took a lot of both to achieve three Super Bowls in four years, a perfect regular season, and routine week-in and week-out dominance.
There was the infamous tuck rule, the Vinateri miracles, the leaping Kevin Faulk third down conversions that seemed like gifts from above, and a quarterback who seemed to defy the practical laws of professional sports durability by starting 111 consecutive games.
But still, we all knew this was coming. We all knew there would be a day, sooner or later, that Mr. Invincible could one day succumb to human vulnerability. Every Patriots quietly feared, though never out loud, “what if *gulp* Brady ever went down?”
Because as Sunday afternoon showed, in the world of sports all it takes is one hit. One bad play, a couple of seconds that don’t go according to plan, a couple inches where a knee bends awkwardly, and it’s all over.
So now the nightmare has become the reality. This Sunday when the Pats play the Jets, number twelve won’t be under center, and such will be the case for every week after that.
Will the Patriots be okay?
Only time will tell. But the reality is, it’s hard to think of another franchise, excluding the Indianapolis Colts, that is so reliant on its franchise player.
Tom Brady is the New England Patriots. And his fall from MVP to injured reserve should serve as a careful reminder to the rest of the league that nothing is ever for certain in a game that is known for its unpredictability.
The Patriots invested all their chips into one Hall-of-Fame player and they reaped the benefits for seven consecutive years, but now, starting this Sunday, they will have to face the dreadful consequences of putting too much on one mans shoulders.