“It’s the mooooosssst wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeaaaarrrr…..” It’s the truth, isn’t it?
Even though the sun sets at about 11:47 a.m., a cold, dark, pandemic winter awaits and there won’t be nearly enough Black Friday wilding on the internet to observe this year, it’s still a special time. A time to reflect and give thanks.
And who, among sports fans the world over, has more to give thanks for than supporters of the New England Patriots?
Think about it. Prior to 2001, every single epic moment/season was ultimately ruined. Enjoyous interruptus in 1976 by the Raiders, 1985 by the Bears, 1996 by the Packers and Bill Parcells.
I mean, before, “IT’S GOOOOOD! IT’S GOOOOOD! IT’S GOOOOOOD!” happened, one of the most indelible games in franchise history was a 1994 mid-November overtime win over the Vikings that got the team to 4-6 and helped propel them to a 10-6 record and a Wild Card loss.
Look at us now. A cornucopia of Lombardi Trophies. Sodden Super Bowl weeks in New Orleans, Jacksonville, Houston, Arizona, Indianapolis, Houston, Arizona, Minnesota and Atlanta to barely recall! Tailgates! Parades!
“I wouldn’t say it’s been all that thin around here, personally,” Bill Belichick said last January after Tom Brady’s final game as a Patriot.
He’s right. You ingrates.
And the fact it’s thin now and may get thinner? Well, Bill answered that too when he essentially said a couple of weeks ago, “Scoreboard” and flashed his rings.
Dad’s mad. And after all he’s done for you, how DARE you (and me) complain.
After we sit and silently reflect on how selfish, entitled and rotten we’ve become to expect – EXPECT?! – annual brilliance and something resembling competence from second-round picks, let’s do an exercise.
Let’s reflect on some of the reasons we should be – RIGHT NOW – thankful for the Patriots!
EASIER SCHEDULE IN 2021
Bring on the third-place schedule!!!
Every … single … year since 2009 the Patriots have finished first in the AFC East, which means they’ve drawn all the other division winners in the AFC the ensuing season. Not gonna happen this year. So see ya later, Steelers! Buh-bye Kansas City!!
Let’s get some soft-serve opponents lined up which means, lemme see here … if the season ended today … doot-da-doooooo … Houston, Denver and Baltimore would be the other third-place teams. … Alright. So not a lot of novelty in those opponents.
BE THAT AS IT MAY!!! It’ll still be fun. The Patriots haven’t finished third in the AFC East since 1988. We’re in not-very-precedented times. Be thankful.
DRAFT’S GONNA BE A DOOZY
Even though the Patriots had their third-round pick confiscated on that BS Spygate 2.0 crap from last year, they’ll still have a third-round compensatory pick since the greatest quarterback to ever stride the planet left as a free agent.
But that’s burying the lead! The Patriots are currently projected to select 13th thanks to the website Tankathon.com. Would you know about that site if the Patriots were 8-2? Doubt it. Be grateful. And also be grateful for the drama and intrigue of selecting in the top 15!
Is it ideal to have a top-15 pick following a college season in which some of the best teams and players didn’t play at all and scouting has been severely hampered by the inability to visit schools and cozy up to coaches and team personnel to get the skinny on prospects? Candidly? No. Worst-case scenario.
But when you’re staring down at a scratchie, a quarter pinched between your thumb and index finger and you KNOW the only thing between you and a big winner is a thin, smooth, shiny layer of gray latex THE ABSOLUTE RUSH IS AMAYYYYZING!!! That will be April for all of us. Give thanks.
YOU’RE SAVING MONEY
How much has the annual Patriots road trip cost you through the years?
Flight. Hotel. Food. Booze. Bail money. Attorney’s fees. A lot.
And even if you’ve just been driving down Route 1 and never taking in a road game, you’re saving on gas, parking, food, booze, bail money, attorney’s fees. And you aren’t tempted by the siren’s song of the Patriots Pro Shop and a Chase Winovich jersey which you know you’d regret having bought when he plays three snaps. So this is good.
TOMMY’S IN TOWN NEXT YEAR!
Unless my projections are awry, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to visit Gillette Stadium in 2021.
So we’ve done a good job getting the pandemic out of the way this year to clear the runway for the Return of Tom in autumn of 2021. That is, unless the Bucs decide to move on from Brady this offseason and the Patriots – with all that cap space – re-sign him to finish out his career backing up Jarrett Stidham. Then the return would be in the spring.
Either way, something to look forward to.
FREE AGENT FRENZY!!
The Patriots have more than $60M in cap space squirrelled away for the 2021 League Year which begins on St. Patrick’s Day. One-third of the league is already over the cap and will have to throw talented players overboard to get right with the $175M or so ceiling.
So the start of free agency this year may be a big enough lure to keep Belichick out of Barbados and back stateside to ensure that the 2021 versions of Adam Humphries, Golden Tate, Cole Beasley and Jared Cook don't end up someplace else.
So there you go. A short list, to be sure. But we’re all a little out of practice on being giddy about this sub-.500 stuff. In the coming years, with more experience, we may get better at it. And that’s something to be thankful for too, I guess.