I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for some football.
As much as ever, we need the Patriots this year, folks. Here in the Hub of Sports, where Duck Boat parades take place with the frequency of July 4th celebrations, we haven’t exactly had the kind of year we’ve grown accustomed to (and been spoiled by). The Patriots were outclassed by the Denver Broncos in January, the Bruins picked off by the Montreal Canadiens in May. The Celtics fell face down. The Red Sox went belly up.
So far, 2014 has been one rather sizable disappointment, expectations going unmet and reality unequal to hype.
Even the NBA lottery was a relative dud. The Celtics first tumbled to Nos. 6 and 17, then used both picks on Marcus Smart and James Young, two promising players. But there was no acquisition of Kevin Love, no departure of Rajon Rondo and no real fireworks.
At least not yet.
Thus far, in fact, only the Patriots have responded with real aplomb. While Red Sox executives have played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey (Grady Sizemore, A.J. Pierzynski, Chris Capuano) and Bruins officials leaned against the salary cap (we hardly knew ye, Jarome Iginla), the Patriots, of all people, went out and made some real noise. Bill Belichick hauled in, among others, Darrelle Revis. Just like that, the Patriots went from perennial runners-up to a potential, certifiable wagon, with quarterback Tom Brady finally mirrored by a relative equal on the other side of the ball.
Yes, Revis can be that good. He can change the game the way few defensive players can. And the Patriots are relying on it.
We are relying on it.
Over the last 12-14 years, we all have come to understand the dynamic in this town. Beginning with the 2001 football season, the Patriots (eight), Red Sox (five), Celtics (four) and Bruins (two) have played for a stunning 19 conference or league championships (semifinals) and won eight world titles (three football, three baseball, one each in hockey and basketball). We have simply planted the seeds and reaped the harvest. And we have eaten like kings.
Along the way, perhaps our greatest competition has come from the power struggle within. The Patriots and some of their followers resented the Red Sox in the early part of this millennium, when stories like the Red Sox’ pursuit of Alex Rodriguez overshadowed New England’s run for a second Super Bowl title in three years. (Of course, the Pats ultimately won 3-of-4.) That dynamic ultimately helped drive the Celtics to championship in 2008, even Danny Ainge admitting that the success of the Boston football and baseball operations drove him to be better.
Now, unquestionably, the Patriots stand alone on Beacon Hill, our greatest and most immediate hope for another parade of Duck Boats. Training camp opens on Thursday. The preseason opens on Aug. 7. We anticipate the start of the football season the way they do in places like Dallas and Pittsburgh, where football takes hold of the land as if it were rooted in the soil.
And this year, as much as any other in recent memory, we wait with great impatience.