Friday, July 22, 2005

Tough to tackle

I had intended to write a column tonight about Tedy Bruschi's decision to sit out the 2005 season. But after staring through cloudy eyes at the computer screen for an hour that felt like three, I had pecked out only these words:

Tell me how. Tell me how a red-white-and-blue-blooded Patriots fan supposed to feel right now. How do you settle this bizarre internal conflict?

On one hand, you sincerely, genuinely, absolutely want Tedy Bruschi to take a black permanent marker and cross football off his list of priorities. You want him to walk away without regret from this contrived little game because, thank the heavens above, he still can. You want to be happy that he has the chance to savor things far more important than stopping Peyton Manning - his health, his future, his peace of mind, his wife, his adorable children.

Yet on the other hand, the football junkie in you - you know, that Tostito-and-Budweiser-swilling loudmouth that often reigns in your brain - tells you his absence changes everything for your favorite football team. You don't need to watch Three Games To Glory again to know he was the heart and soul and spirit of the three-time champs' defense, that when the moment demanded a big stop or a turnover, it was often No. 54 who delivered it. You know his departure leaves an an enormous void, and all the Sean Salisburys and Michael Irvins searching for any reason to doubt this team now might have a legitimate point.

We wanted him to walk away.

Yet we wanted him to play.

So how in the hell do we put that into appropriate perspective right now?

The truth is, we can't. Or I can't. So I'm going to think about this a little longer, maybe figure out what exactly a Monty Beisel is, and then I'll try again some other day.

* * *

As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Because, hey, sometimes it really is random. And if you're curious why ol' Ellis - a truly original piece of work who used to draw a heart for an autograph, had a throwing arm equal to Dewey Evans's, and was accused in manager Dick Williams's autobiography of smuggling cocaine over the border in his hair dryer - is wearing half a football facemask, here's your explanation.