It's here, and it could be gone before you know it.
We could be talking about the entirety of a football season. We could be talking about a game week, or a single practice. In this instance, however, let's bring up our good fortune. We need to better appreciate the winning, before 'waving' it goodbye.
It was 18 years ago the Kraft family brought in Bill Belichick to run this organization - to scout, coach, make personnel decisions, what-have-you...and you'd be hard pressed to say it wasn't the right decision to make at the time.
Of course, it was. In 2000, Coach Belichick set out on what turned into a sure-fire Hall of Fame coaching career, thanks to his (and the team's) performances over the next 18 seasons. Did the Kraft's know what was to come? Did anyone know what was ahead?
Of course not. But perhaps there was an idea, a glimpse into the possibilities, based on what you knew about the coach, the administrator, and the man himself. Maybe it was nothing more than a 'hunch,' but it ended up playing out in spades. And I'll wager there's rarely a day that goes by where someone in the organization - from ownership to the fans - who doesn't look back and think 'wow, glad we did what we did back then.'
And this magnificent, historical, dominant period in NFL history has almost run its course.
How do I know this?
Good fortune doesn't last forever, and neither does winning. But I watched Gillette Stadium lower itself into modern culture's abyss last Thursday night against the Washington Redskins by doing - gulp - the 'wave.'
Gillette Stadium regulars usually don't make a habit of debasing themselves by taking part in the 30+ year-old gang-ritual of standing up, raising your hands and sitting back down in follow-the-leader fashion, creating a "wave" effect as it rings around the field. That's something for an unknowing non-fan, or even a bored fan to do.
Which means, there weren't many (any?) Gillette Stadium regulars present at the game. Look, I'm all about having fun, don't get me wrong. But our "fun" at Gillette for nearly two full decades has been in the winning. Gimmicks aren't needed. Mass displays of spastic rhythm aren't necessary or even wanted.
We usually act like we've been there before because we ARE there, now.
So, are we tired of winning already, where we need 'the wave' to keep us entertained through a football game? I know it's the preseason. But the only plausible answer to come up with here is - too many fans just don't know. Too many of the diehards just didn't show. And why is that?
It's preseason, it doesn't count. It's just boring.
But you see, it does count. It might not be the most entertaining time of the year - and the Patriots rallying from a 17-point deficit to win should count as not boring, even if the game doesn't count in the standings. It also counts for several players who are fighting for jobs. And for coaches who are striving to build on a legacy of winning.
The point is, embrace this time we're in before it's gone. Savor every second of the game that you can, even if the games don't count. The offseason is long enough. Championships aren't won every year, even if it seems like it. Remember, there's another half to winning - it's called losing - and the Patriots have avoided it like no one else has for the past 18 years.
But please. Do we really need 'the wave?' Other fan bases might need to entertain themselves, but this one has usually been satisfied with the product on the field. They've appreciated what they have, while they have it.
Something tells me 'the wave' will always be there if we ever really need it.
Nitpicking the Patriots' production
First, it was one preseason win - matching the total number of wins in last years' preseason. And last year still turned out okay, if not a little disappointing, with the team winning an AFC title and reaching the Super Bowl.
But anytime a team can rally from a double-digit deficit, preseason or not, to win a game is invaluable...if only because now, you know you've done it. Down 17-0 late in the second quarter to Washington isn't like a 28-3 deficit in the 2nd half of a Super Bowl against Atlanta, but it's still something to build upon.
As for the correctable, most of it was obvious.
- Kyle Van Noy losing Byron Marshall in coverage out of the backfield on Washington's first TD. Teams will continue to pick on the Patriots' linebackers until they show they can cover - or until they show they can at least get in the way.
- Defensively, the Patriots got a stop on the Redskins on a 3rd and four late in the 2nd quarter, only to have a roughing-the-passer call go against Derek Rivers for an automatic first down. Drive-enhancers are as bad, if not worse, than drive-killers on offense.
- On Geneo Grissom's 53 yard should-have-been-a-touchdown-return in the 4th quarter, well, it wasn't a touchdown because Ryan Lewis began to celebrate a bit prematurely and failed to finish blocking. I'll wager it was a highlight (and not for him) in subsequent film sessions.
Preseason games are all about teaching and learning for the younger and less-experienced. And staying away from injury for the more-experienced. If you can win on the scoreboard, it's always a bonus. Mission accomplished, pretty much.
Jig is up for a Jag
Most Patriot fans will probably recall Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey for his boastful proclamation before last season's AFC title game in Foxboro:
"We're going to the Super Bowl, and we're going to win that b**."
We know how that one turned out. It's one thing to have confidence in your ability, and in the ability of your teammates...but it's another thing entirely to let your stupid show.
And it appears Ramsey is letting it show again, for all the NFL to see. Ramsey, along with teammate Dante Fowler, has been suspended for a week by his team for "violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars' football player." Ramsey's suspension apparently stems from going after a local reporter on Twitter over the past weekend, as reported by NFL Network.
Ramsey and Fowler (who was suspended for a training camp fight) are out for a week of practices and Jacksonville's next game against Minnesota.
If Ramsey had an ounce of sense in his head, maybe he'd realize the media has a job to do, whether he approves of it or not. Maybe he'd also realize, if he knew better, the media can actually help his cause and not always hurt it.
Ramsey is one of the best corners in the game today. But until he figures out he can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, he'll be remembered for his words alone.
Not his actions, or his deeds.
John Rooke, an author and award-winning broadcaster, is entering his 26th season as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for more than 30 years and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame and RI's Words Unlimited Hall of Fame.