Maybe some of us needed this.
I mean, let's face it; the Boston Sports Fan hasn't exactly shed him or herself in the most endearing light as of late.
A few short years ago we were generally considered the most knowledgeable and passionate fan base in America. Today, we're greatly perceived as obnoxious loudmouths who spit on the psyche of all other sports fans who dare not sport the shades of the local fandom.
The former and the latter are generally gross generalizations, for sure, as Boston indeed possessed plenty of each in separate eras of winning and losing. But it is the perceived arrogance that ultimately characterizes the fan base today on a national level.
More sports fans across the country were more excited to see the Patriots lose Sunday than were thrilled to see the Giants pull it out. It was a moment to be celebrated, as Boston found itself with a sniff of humility, while the perceived cheats of the league and their gruff coach suffered a bit of comeuppance for their past discretions. Church bells didn't exactly go off from Cos Cob to Baja, but a certain sense of relief was enjoyed in all points north of Perfectville.
Are we still a great sports town? By record and measured success, sure.
But what truly makes a great sports town is passion, something that still exists within our state boundaries, but is too often replaced by the general perception that this Super Bowl loss is deserved. Or don't you remember Fenway at the tail end of 2006, when the alternative hat crowd showed up in countless red, blue, and green seat backs?
Boston might still be a great sports town, but we haven't acted the part in recent years. America hates Boston for all its recent success. It's jealousy and envy. But Boston gives it plenty of ammunition.
For certain, let's see any other town deal with the unprecedented success of five championships over a half-decade and witness what sort of transformation take place. And I suppose in an era of dynasty, that is apt to happen.
But I remember the general excitement of 2002 when the Patriots had just won the Super Bowl, emerging from the Government Center T stop where a young group of friends stood with their jerseys in a state of awe from a 48-hour shockover.
"Holy [bleep]. The Pats won the [bleeping] Super Bowl," one said in a tone that suggested he'd been repeating it in his sleep since Sunday night.
It was similar in 2004, when I arrived in Boston the morning after the Red Sox' Game 7 win over the Yankees, when wordless energy emitted off the faces of every Bostonian, each nodding and smiling to everyone they passed along the way.
We will never have moments like those again. The Red Sox, the Patriots, and now the Celtics are expected to win, their seasons deemed a failure if they don't end with a parade down Boylston. Because of all the grand success, we've become a sporting society that assumes championships are a birthright. There is still excitement. There is still passion. But never again will we have those blissful, unexpected moments of "What the hell just happened here?" Those are once in a lifetime, as we've come to discover, and the sequels, while good, can't ever compare to the unbridled thrill felt that first time.
Sure, since then there has been disappointment -- the 2005 ALDS loss to the White Sox, the 2007 AFC title game vs. the Colts, obviously Super Bowl XLII -- and stupidity -- Joe Thornton's trade to San Jose -- but it had been a while since Boston sports fans had their hearts ripped out of their chests and tossed into the Mystic like they were Sunday night. It was as jarring a moment as has been suffered since the ball off Aaron Boone's bat sailed into the early morning air of a delirious Yankee Stadium.
It was victory ripped from their grasp, a punch to the gut. It was back to our roots of asking "why" and "how?" It was back to dwelling in what could have been only ... if ...
Look, we're not naive enough to think that things were better in the days of "curses" and such. It's just that somewhere along the line, "Yankees Suck" rolled into those deplorable T-shirts and depictions for sale outside Fenway Park. Bostonians turned into fans that not only New York loved to hate, but everybody loved to hate. We were better than everybody else. And everybody else knew that because we told them so.
The passionate Boston sports fan still exists. He or is she is just often drowned out by the idiot next to them with the tattooed head, baseball cap with the tag still dangling from the side, or Reebok client on hand for the free sushi. They're the ones you'll all too often find at home while the bigwigs and wannabes soak up all the available ducats. They're the ones getting the bad rep while their phony cousins soil their name with drunken, boisterous claims of glory, while forgetting what sparks this passion in the first place is competition.
So, it might not be good for the ol' record books down in Foxborough, but maybe this was appropriate They say something about too much of a good thing, and Boston fans' ostentatious attitude would seem to support that.