Understand, before we begin, that I always want to write about football. It is a constant pull. But I've had girlfriends in the past so I'm always conscious of this fact: most people don't give a shit about football. They will stop paying attention as soon as football enters the discussion. It's a niche and should be avoided if you're trying to get people interested in the things you have to say.
This sentence was going to be one last apology before I dove in, but I screwed the pooch by titling the post "On Football." The people I'm apologizing to are gone already. It's just us.
For those of us that love America the way we're supposed to, the annual Pats-Colts game is a hallowed tradition. It's better than Thanksgiving football because somebody decided the Detroit Lions needed an annual Thanksgiving game (blaming George W. Bush). Last night's game was entertaining, as my beloved Patriots blew a big fourth-quarter lead and eventually lost in soul-crushing, hair-rending fashion. I woke up this morning to an inbox full of e-mails related to the game. Most of you were kind.
Here's the tricky thing, though: I'm not broken up about it. I was shocked and upset (more shocked) in the moment, but then I turned off the TV and went about my evening much as I usually would. All the while I asked myself: why wasn't I more upset? Was I losing my enthusiasm for the team? Why wasn't I thrown into paroxysms of rage when the inevitable Colts Home Call came? On his podcast today, Bill Simmons wonders how younger Pats fans reacted. My friends from back home, as far as I can tell, have reacted much as I did. Why is this? I figured it out. It's the Helmet Catch.
On February 3rd, 2008, Eli Manning threw a ball to a marginal receiver named David Tyree, who caught it against his helmet for a 32-yard gain. It ultimately won them the Super Bowl, and it was the most searingly painful sports experience of my life. I don't remember the rest of the drive that ended in a Giants TD and truthfully, I've never even watched a replay of the Helmet Catch aside from the replays they showed in the game broadcast. I went home and put myself in absolute Sports Lockdown for about 2 weeks. I didn't turn on ESPN, I didn't go to a sports website, I even avoided looking directly at the Sports section of Google's news aggregator. Eventually the pain faded, but this is its legacy: my sports-agony receptors are fried. So watching the utter collapse of the Patriots at the end of the game, I felt a little like a mom who just had her fourth kid. Yeah, it hurt. But that first kid was the worst. At a certain point, you've already felt as bad as you're ever going to feel. So in a way, I'm glad it all happened (I'm not).
I also thought I'd put in some effort trying to be funny and throw out some thoughts I've had about the season thus far. You deserve a little sweetness after reading about Tony's Feelings. Here's hoping it's their last appearance for a while.
--Lawrence Maroney is awful. This guy has made a decent living for a couple years on potential and the fact that every 4-5 games he does something decent. Let's just make it official: Patriots fans hate him. We hate his funny-shaped face, we hate his unwarranted dances when he manages to make it into an endzone without fumbling. We hate, most of all, the way he falls down the second a defender lays a hand on him. Kevin Faulk was the featured back last night and I'm sorry--you can't hold a lead like that. So happy trails, Lawrence. We'll draft this guy and maybe he can stay upright.
--I've watched quite a few Colts games this year, and I don't think I've seen Jim Caldwell make a coaching decision yet. Mark my words, he will be exposed at some crucial point in the playoffs. Peyton can't make all your moves for you, Mr. Caldwell.
--I love Jamarcus Russell. "But Tony, isn't he the the worst QB in the league?" Yes, probably. What of it? I'll direct you to the following box score. This is my argument for Jamarcus: rarely do we see such a sublimely terrible player at any position in the league, let alone one who is playing such an important position. Consider also that Jamarcus was a #1 overall draft pick and is making (more to the point, has made) many millions of dollars. His contract is exquisitely horrible and that adds a really satisfying "meta" layer to the Cake of Jamarcus. The man is a Platonic ideal of suck. To me and my boy Socrates, that holds a certain beauty.
Thanks as always for your readership and indulgence.
P.S. I realize upon proofreading that, depending on how you read the Jamarcus paragraph, I may have indirectly and unintentionally compared Socrates to Al Davis. I'm happy with this and will allow it to stand.