Destiny and the AFC East

09Sep08

First let me say this: I don’t think anybody is happy about Tom Brady’s torn ACL, not their competitors, certainly not their fans. He is arguably the best quarterback of all time; and no doubt whoever wins the Super Bowl this year will have to live with the fact that they did it without the greatest leader in sports to go up against. Let me properly put this in perspective; if this would have happened Joe Montana at the same point as it has happened to Brady, sports medicine would not have been capable of repairing and rehabilitating this injury. We would only think of what could have been. Thankfully for sports fans, an ACL tear rehabilitation is almost commonplace now, so Brady has a good shot at coming back and further writing his legacy.

With that disclaimer in mind, I turn to the topic of destiny. As some may have gathered from previous postings, it is concept in which I place nearly no credibility, and most of the time I believe fate easily be chalked up to being a combination of will and luck. The concept of fate is so common because human beings like narratives in their lives. The media tell a narrative of an election, religions tell narratives of morality, and you reading this right now probably have a nice little narrative of your own life, complete with characters, themes, chapters, and of course, a writer. But I digress. Let’s have a bit of illogical fun and indulge ourselves into the concept of destiny, even perhaps, divine will. If football players can thank God as responsible for their blocks, tackles, turnovers, and touchdowns, I’ll play their game for a while.

In September of 2001, the New England Patriots embarked on what many believed would be another mediocre season. The team had a solid defense and special teams, but was lacking in offensive firepower. Drew Bledsoe had made it to a Super Bowl before, but wasn’t really considered an elite quarterback. Their best running back was Kevin Faulk, a staple of the team for years to come, but at the time was most notable for being confused with the far superior (and one of the best players to ever play the game) Marshall Faulk. Receivers? The hapless-without-Bill-Parcells Terry Glenn, and the one-time-Parcells-cut-victim Troy Brown. You could make an argument that, on paper, even the 2000 Ravens offense looked better.

(Actually, on paper, the Ravens offense is almost really good. Two of the best tight ends of all time, two of the better RBs of this generation, and a rag-tag group of receivers notable for having special team legend Jermaine Lewis and prototype slot man Stokley. This is why Billick got fired)

Anyways, the Patriots lost their first game of the season in unremarkable fashion. Then, it happened.

As we all know, on September 11th, 2001 terrorists struck the twin towers. I need not recap the story, with the exception of mentioning that the NFL decided to postpone the games that were supposed to occur on the following Sunday.

Maybe if the game hadn’t been postponed, something would have been different. Maybe, there would have been a different game plan versus the Jets. Maybe the play that led to Mo Lewis severely injuring Drew Bledsoe would never have been called, and Tom Brady would have remained an unknown. But it did, and on September 23rd, 2001, the week after 9/11, NFL history, quietly and despite a loss in that particular game, would change forever.

The rest has been history for Brady. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and eventually become the first dynasty of the new decade. In a year where the country was, in retrospect all too briefly, united, the team dubbed “The Patriots” go on to conquer their league.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Brady went down. I know it is unfair to write off Matt Cassel just yet, but chances are, he will not be a Brady-like reserve. If Cassel can’t handle the job, it seemingly leaves the AFC East wide open. With Brett Favre and Bill Parcells (not officially) in charge of the Jets and Dolphins, both teams could be formidable. But a team that looked really impressive yesterday was the Bills. Trent Edwards can manage a game, and Marshawn Lynch is a gifted running back.

This year, we lost a great American journalist, when Tim Russert died unexpectedly at 58. There was no more recognizable Bills fan than Tim Russert. Could destiny work its charm again?

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One Response to “Destiny and the AFC East”


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