HOUSTON — So the journey will end here in Houston, one way or the other. And I know how this works.
In 2007, when the New England Patriots had their perfect season dashed by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, there was a blackout of sorts in the ensuing months. When 2008 training camp began, I heard from several readers and the words were mostly the same, “Hey, it’s good to be back. Had to shut you out of my life for a few months before I could come back. Too painful. I think we’re OK to see each other again.”
Ditto for the 2011 season, when the Patriots once again lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
So depending on what happens Sunday night in Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium, there’s a chance we won’t be connecting for a short while. That’s why I want to seize this opportunity now, just in case, because there’s a few things I’d like to say.
It struck me Saturday night while surrounded by Patriots fans partying it up and enjoying the moment. A few came up to introduce themselves and said ‘thank you’ for the coverage during the season.
It was extremely nice, but what I quickly told them is that I’m the one who should be saying thanks. There are a lot of choices out there for the consumer these days, and that you choose to read my work means the most to me.
I truly love the work. There is something special to me about following a team from start to finish, getting to know more about the coaches and players along the way, while chronicling the behind-the-scenes happenings and up-and-down aspect of the games themselves. The Patriots play a good brand of football, which helps as well.
I also love how sports connects us all in different ways, which is starting to happen in my own home. When my daughter (7) asked me for a score prediction for the Super Bowl during a FaceTime chat earlier Saturday, what else could I do but smile? And then there was the time a few weeks back when my 4-year-old son’s preschool was having “Patriots day” to show their support, his dad forgot to dress him in his shirt (5-yard penalty and loss of down), and the little guy didn’t want to take off his jacket when we got to school because he wanted to be part of the team like everyone else. I was a few minutes late for Bill Belichick’s news conference that day because of the detour to head back home to get his shirt. The smile on my son’s face upon my return is the type of thing you store away and think about when you’re away for eight straight days at the Super Bowl and need that pick-me-up.
This has been a great year, one of my favorites covering the Patriots no matter how it ends. It helps that there are a lot of quality people on the team, as well as those in the media corps covering it.
So let’s wrap this up. If the Patriots can’t close it out against the Falcons, you might shut it down like 2007, 2011 and some other seasons, and I understand it. There’s a lot of passion that goes into following a team.
Then again, we might see each other from the Duck Boats in a few days.
However it ends, I think we can all agree that it’s been fun being on this ride together all the way to Feb. 5. We can’t always guarantee the endings, but when one embraces the journey on a day-to-day basis, there are often many rewards received along the way regardless.
So thank you for that. And I look forward to reconnecting again, whenever that may be.