Rod Rust could rise from the dead and fashion himself a gray, “RR” hoodie to wear on the sideline.
Michael Bishop and Eugene Chung could both be announced as honorary team captains, with the possibilities of playing. In the case of concussion, I’m only going to Alex Guerrero for treatment. Hell, if the Patriots create a special wing in their Hall of Fame for Donald J. Trump, I’m game.
Life, death, and taxes are suspect. The only certain things in life are the New England Patriots.
Why do we do it? Why is there any angst whatsoever regarding this football team until after the Auld Lang Synes have been sung and Nick Saban has taken it on the chin? Why should we ever care about anything that happens with the Patriots until the calendar says it’s time to change our check-writing habits?
It’s January, and here are the New England Patriots.
No matter what.
I’m out. Hartford could be named the Capital of Patriots Nation, Tom Brady could start working on telepathic route reads, and Eric Mangini could be hired as a personal assistant to the coach. Whatever.
I am no longer in the business of doubting anything the Patriots do.
It’s going to be a difficult fortnight for football fans exasperated by New England surfeit. But what the Patriots managed Sunday in their 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game was a monument of greatness, a struggle against the best team in the AFC that proved the NFL’s statue of dynasty isn’t getting toppled anytime soon.
The Patriots are headed to their third-straight Super Bowl, in Atlanta — a place where hearts are still pained from the mention of 28-3 — against the Los Angeles Rams, the franchise against whom this whole magical journey began 17 years ago in New Orleans.
This wasn’t supposed to happen with this team. Even the New England Patriots figure to have an expiration date. Many figured this one was stamped “2018” seeing everything that occurred with this team since the last time it was…well, in the Super Bowl, of course.
A few months after helping get Jimmy Garoppolo out of town, Brady refused to participate in offseason workouts. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was thinking about retirement, action movie stardom, or what life might be like as a Detroit Lion. Danny Amendola got paid in Miami. Josh Gordon came and went. Brandin Cooks, deemed to one day be too expensive, was dealt.
Remember when the Jacksonville Jaguars were the team to beat in the AFC? When the Miami Dolphins were in first place in the AFC East? When the Patriots couldn’t stop Brandon Bolden from scoring touchdowns at will?
The team looked more like one led by Jim Caldwell in Tennessee two months ago. The Miami Miracle sparked a period of being dazed and confused. The loss in Pittsburgh cemented the fact that the Patriots were older and slower than a team that should be depended on for any serious run come the NFL postseason. The Patriots ended the season on a high note by blowing out the Bills and Jets? Wonderful. At the end of any picnic you’re going to find a way to get rid of the ants.
The Patriots we’ve seen the last two weeks have been the antithesis to everything that posed a concern from September until Christmas. These are the Patriots we are used to. No matter the lack of depth at receiver. No matter the holes on defense. No matter the competition, the age at quarterback, or the internal strifes that figured to one day sabotage the entire system.
“The odds were stacked against us,” Brady said after adding another page to his still-burgeoning Hall of Fame resume. “It hasn’t been that way for us in a while, and it certainly was this year.”
There seemed a certain semblance of satisfaction coming from the likes of Brady and Belichick after this one, a celebration that included multiple exchanges of gratitude, appreciation, and plain ol’ man-love amidst players and coaches. Brady, in particular, seemed beyond ecstatic over the win, an AFC title that doesn’t seem to simply get tossed into the closet with the rest of them.
“I was probably as excited as I have been in a long time,” he said .”These are memories that will last a lifetime.
“This was an incredible win. I will remember this one for the rest of my life.”
Belichick could pull Devin McCourty from next week’s game for no reason ever forthcoming. The NFL could allow the Rams to sign David Tyree and Mario Mannigham to be last-minute roster replacements. Hell, let them have Desmond Howard and Richard Dent for all it matters.
None of it is going to matter for these Patriots.
Nor will anything that ever happens of any concern before Christmas. Because there isn’t just a chance that Belichick and Brady will fix it. They just will.