Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The other day, I got a snide little email from a friend of mine who just happens to be a big Patriots fan. At the best of times, it can be particularly difficult to be friendly with Patriots fans but being from New England, and all, it's also very difficult to find normal friends who watch sports and aren't fans of the local teams to befriend. This year, however, it has been particularly difficult.

My friend wondered how I felt when I saw TO crying at the end of the Dallas debacle this weekend. I told my friend the truth, I said I generally have no problem with a person expressing their genuine, honest emotional response to a given situation provided, of course, that I happen to like the person in question.

I didn't mind TO crying at the end of the game. It had to be incredibly frustrating to see Dallas waste an entire season by playing a second half without any semblance of urgency. Even in the two minute offense, it seemed like they either counted the game-winning TD they never actually scored as already on the board or they just assumed the Giants would realize that Dallas was much better and would simply forfeit.

I thought Dallas didn't make a concerted effort to get TO the ball in the second half. I thought Dallas seemed to assume that the Giants wouldn't make any adjustments in their pass rush and coverages. I thought Dallas assumed they could simply run the same plays that worked in the first half because the Giants couldn't or wouldn't change their game plan. And with Tom Coughlin on the other side, it might have looked like a safe bet. But I got the sense that Dallas didn't approach the second half of the biggest game of the year with a unified vision to win the game. And I don't know whose fault that was, but I doubt that it was TO's.

It could be worse, right? After all, it's not as though TO became embroiled in a strange personal scandal in the week leading up to the biggest game of the year. I don't know what the truth is, in this situation, if there is any truth on any side of this strange story. I am inclined to think that there have to be a few simpler ways of extorting $100,000 from a guy than this restraining order con.

I am upset by this whole stupid little mess. Why did it come out now? What is the point of wasting what might be a perfectly good distraction on a week where the Chargers couldn't beat the Patriots if they got to put 15 of their best "men" on the field against the regulation 11 from the other side? It just sets up so well, to have the team with the revenge angle from the grace and dignity the Patriots displayed beating San Diego on the road last postseason coming to Foxboro to play the team with the unblemished record in all but the moral dimension of the game.

Of course, just about every thing that looks so well scripted is bound to unravel spectacularly in reality. Especially if Philip Rivers can play this week. I'd feel more comfortable with Billy Volek under center. You know Rivers is due for an dismal performance of epic proportions, especially with Eli Manning still playing and the inevitable comparisons between the two of them. Plus, LaDanian Tomlinson is a great player when the breaks aren't beating the Bolts, but who whines better when the breaks go the other way?

And finally, the Chargers deserve to lose. For all they cried about how classless the Patriots were last season, and with some measure of good reason, you'd think they might have emerged from the upset in Indianapolis with some measure of dignity. Alas, that wasn't the case. Not since Emmett Smith walked the Earth in the first half of the 1990s have I seen such a shameless display of helmet removal as I saw when the Chargers defense stopped Indy on fourth and goal in the late fourth quarter.

And it's a damn shame. 17-1 might not sound quite as good as 16-1 would have, but I could have found the strength to live with it.

1 comment:

Alan said...

If Derek Lee had teared up after the Cubs got swept this year, I would have never heard the end of it. Never. But of course, when it happens to TO, it's barely worth a mention.