Monday, January 7, 2008

Great Time for New England Sports

This column originally appeared in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle on Saturday, January 5th, 2008.

As I sat in Giants Stadium last Saturday night with my son, I made sure to imprint the sights and sounds of this game in my mind forever.

After all, how often do you get to witness perfection up close?

I was a part of history last weekend as I sat high in the New Jersey night air, watching the New England Patriots complete the first ever 16-0 undefeated season in NFL history. It marks the first undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Those Dolphins won their 14 regular season games and then swept three in the playoffs. To match that incredible feat the Pats will have to win their three playoff games, starting next weekend in Foxboro.

You have read about this amazing season from virtually everyone and every viewpoint by now. Every sportswriter and sportscaster in the country has weighed in on the Pats and their chances to join the Dolphins in immortality.

So please allow me to add another viewpoint – that of a lifelong Patriot fan, a season ticket-holder for 34 years, and someone who has brought his sons up to be certifiable sports fanatics.

In general, we Boston sports fans are a spoiled bunch right now. We have gotten used to success, and not just in one sport.

When I was growing up in the 60’s, the Celtics won the NBA Championship virtually every year. We took those great teams for granted. It was easy to be blasé about the greatness we were witnessing.

Today, the Red Sox have won two World Series titles in four years, after an 86 year drought. The Celtics have the best record in the NBA. The Patriots have won three Super Bowls in the last six years, and are favored to win yet another. They are on their way to what could be a perfect championship season.

I was going to Fenway Park when the Red Sox couldn’t get out of the bottom half of the league. I actually attended Patriot games at Fenway, and then spent the better part of three decades sitting on those ice-cold aluminum benches in the old Schaeffer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium watching some of the worst football the league has ever seen.

I tell you that not to sound old, but to illustrate why I am so appreciative of the situation we fans find ourselves in today.

The younger generation of Boston sports fans think we have a championship parade every two or three years at least. They go to a football stadium that is state-of-the-art in every way. They watch as their teams are in contention for the championship virtually every season.

It is not always like this, folks.

We are in the Golden Age of New England sports history. We are witnessing it first-hand. We are actually watching things take place that will be talked about by generations of sports fans who follow us.

We need to be aware of the history unfolding, and appreciate it while it is happening.

It is quite possible what is going on right now may never again occur in our lifetime. The stars have aligned, both on the playing fields and in the sky. This is a solar eclipse, followed by a lunar eclipse, followed by Haley’s Comet, followed by the Republicans controlling the Massachusetts Legislature. This is a totally unusual place in time.

So don’t just enjoy it, fellow sports fans – immerse yourselves in it. Go overboard, jump in with both feet, and totally commit yourselves to the great teams we have to enjoy these days.

Take your kids to ballgames or watch with them and explain what it is they are seeing. They may not get the full impact now, but later on they will tell their kids how they watched the great undefeated Patriot team of 2007. They will look back upon this time with a fondness only experience can bring.

Right now, the Patriots are perfect. And today is the perfect time for us all to make sure we fully experience and live the history unfolding all around us.

Bill Gouveia, who has never been accused of perfection, is a local columnist who can be reached at

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