Tom Brady: My Part In His Injury
09 September 2008
So Tom Brady is injured for the year. This will be of little interest to anyone who doesn’t follow the NFL. (The NFL is American football to everyone else other than Americans. American’s don’t call American football American football, for obvious reasons. That would be like us calling golf Scottish golf. It’s just golf. Of course, given that American football is a game mostly played with the hands, who knows why they named it football in the first place? Well, probably someone does, and if I could be bothered looking on Wikipedia I’d probably find out, but Lost in Juarez isn’t about research.)
For those interested in Tom Brady being injured, there have already been millions upon millions of words written about it, and it only happened two days ago. So, in order to differentiate myself from all the other people writing about Tom Brady’s ACL injury, I’m going to write about it from my perspective. Tom Brady: my part in his injury.
Now, as it happens, I obviously played no direct part in the injury. At the time I was attempting to pretend that I was not addicted to the sport by ignoring the start of the NFL season and listening to TPCKAM read Artemis Fowl to the kids. I was also several thousand miles away from Tom and his low tackler from the Kansas City Chiefs. (Lovely quote from the guy who caused the injury: “I tried to apologise but I don’t think he heard me because he was screaming...”)
So, if I didn’t affect the injury, how does the injury affect me? Well, to be honest, I’m quite pleased. I mean no ill towards Tom and his knee. He seems like a decent enough bloke, he’s a phenomenon at the game, and it must be completely crap to work for something for seven months and then get stiffed for the season inside the first eight minutes. Tom, however, has three Superbowls to his credit, a host of NFL records, supermodel girlfriends and money coming out every pore. He’ll get over it, however rubbish he feels this morning, and there will be more great years to come.
The thing is that for the past few years the Patriots have been the team to beat, a Superbowl contender every year, they have won it three times and it has been the cause of crushing disappointment every year that they didn’t. In other words, they were the favourites every year, year in, year out. And here’s the thing. I’m Scottish. It just doesn’t seem right to follow favourites, it doesn’t seem right to expect your team to win every game by a huge margin, and to be disappointed if they don’t.
The first few years I followed the Patriots - late 1980’s into early 90’s - the Patriots sank from being average to out and out rank awful. The won one game in 1990, and after an aberration of a season where they almost looked slightly better than complete rubbish in ’91, they won only two games in 1992. As a fan, this felt natural, this felt like the team I wanted to follow for the rest of my puff. This was the (big money) equivalent of having watched Meadowbank Thistle in 1979. It's so Scottish to follow a sports team whose history consists of long periods of complete and utter mince, mingled with the occasional bout of adequacy.
From the mid-90's on they gradually improved, but they were always at best a good team. A couple of Superbowls, they won one of them in 2001, and we could rejoice. But somehow, as time passed, they just kept getting better and better, until they became the behemoths of the the NFL. Suddenly if they didn’t win the Superbowl - and they haven’t in four years now - it was incredibly disappointing, rather than just the vague disappointment one feels when a not great team doesn’t succeed.
Now, however, the years of expected dominance have been wiped away in one stroke. The master is gone for the season, and the New England Patriots can go back to being just another team. Maybe they’ll win and maybe they won’t, but suddenly it feels like fun to support them again. After winning every game last season, before losing the Superbowl in the last thirty seconds, we can return to feeling triumph in the one point win; we can wonder if and not when we’re going to qualify for the play-offs; and then we'll have no idea and no great expectations on how we’ll get on if we get there.
This feels much healthier and a much more Scottish perspective on an American game.