Life for football fans isn't easy. True, they get to experience the ultimate joy of watching a great game, but there's an unfair proportion of time off to time playing in an average NFL week. That ratio is skewed even more in the long, agonizing seven months between the Super Bowl and the start of a new season.
In New England, where sports fans devour news, information and rumors at an insatiable pace, that time can be especially excruciating. Often, conversations surrounding the team lead in many different directions, distracting from what the real focus should be: good old-fashioned football.
So with Monday night's kickoff fast on its way, here's a list of five things you can forget — at least for a few hours — once the game gets under way.
Will Vince Wilfork be in New England beyond this season? Are the Pats going to pay Tom Brady top dollar? Is Wes Welker looking for a boost in his below-market-value contract?
While those are all valid concerns, none of them will matter once the game starts. Wilfork will be clogging the middle, Brady will be scanning his options and Welker will be (health permitting) making would-be tacklers look foolish.
2. Richard Seymour
This one might be harder to do. If Fred Jackson breaks off a 15-yard run off tackle, your first instinct might be to say, "No. 93 would have swallowed that one up."
Plus, you can bet the Monday Night Football announcers will be mentioning the Seymour trade every 13 seconds. In fact, that trend probably won't stop until next year.
Still, once you see Ty Warren slip past the line for a sack on Trent Edwards or a rookie lineman catching a Bills ball carrier by surprise, your mind won't be on Seymour.
For that matter, you'll hear a lot about the losses of not just Seymour, but also Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi. But as a wise man once said, we're not here to talk about the past. Instead of talking about those personnel losses, it's time to witness the ascent of Jerod Mayo, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and the other youngsters on the defense.
3. Brady's Knee
Again, Ron Jaworski's already started questioning Brady's mental stability, so don't expect him to stop once the game begins. The key is to effectively tune out the commentators. Chances are you know just as much or more about this team than they do, and hearing them go on and on about Brady's knee and whether or not he's stepping up in the pocket, complete with extensive camera zooms on the knee brace, is enough to drive anyone mad.
Instead, you're better off sitting back and watching Brady unleash the deep ball to Randy Moss. No words will be necessary.
4. Super Bowl XLII Patriots fans should spend at least five minutes a day trying to forget about Super Bowl XLII. It never happened. It never happened. It never happened.
5. Backup Quarterback
Matt Cassel is gone (and rich). So too is Kevin O'Connell (well, minus the rich part). Brian Hoyer is 23 years old, went undrafted, and his biggest career accomplishment has been being selected as an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2007.
So who do the Patriots go after? Jeff Garcia? A.J. Feeley? Monday night, it won't matter, because the only chance you'll have to see a backup will be if the Patriots are up by 40 in the fourth quarter.
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