It's not about the house.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It Ain't Over Till the Grey Hoodie Swings

Last week was the first time in three years the Patriots played a football game without me on the team. They won anyway, so I guess I wasn't the most crucial player or anything -- but then again, they're tied for first place in the division without Tom Brady or Rodney Harrison, so there's obviously no such thing as a most crucial player.

I mean, besides the coach. Sorry Coach. Oh my lord, I'm heartily sorry, Coach. I'll just be out here running suicides until you feel I've properly atoned...

Anyway, what I'm talking about is this:

I bought it a few weeks into his rookie season (in 2006) because I thought he was going to be good. I mean (and I'm not ashamed to say it, even now), I thought he could conceivably be hall-of-famer good. Those first few weeks, he ran like a Heisman trophy with a jet pack on its back. Sure, he jigged a little, but he was a rookie, with Corey Freakin' Dillon as his mentor. Soon enough, I thought, he was bound to learn to power through.

I always do like a rookie, anyway. They're like unwrapped Christmas presents: they could turn out to be anything. Besides, in a system with so many stars and so much turnover, do you really want to be wearing the same #12 jersey as everybody else (especially, gag, in pink)? Or #18, who played his heart out for us but was only ever slated to be here that single year?

So anyway, I bought #39. And learned that the thing about unwrapping Christmas presents is that sometimes, after you play with them a little bit, they up and break.

His rookie season went extremely well. But the next year they took Corey Dillon away and it turned out Maroney hadn't exactly learned to power through. Not consistently, at any rate. Then he hurt his shoulder, badly enough to need surgery, and he never played consistently again. He hadn't ever gotten hurt before, and it seemed to spook him. A few weeks ago, it started looking like he was actively avoiding potentially dangerous plays on the field -- when he had the ball -- and finally, on October 20th, they cut him. Well, not cut-cut. He does still have that rookie contract, after all. He's on injured reserve. Only everybody's wondering whether he's really hurt.

So I shelved my jersey.

Now, I am notoriously jinxy. I am willing to shoulder (so to speak) at least part of the responsibility for Maroney's jinxed career. For that same reason, I've been hesitant to buy myself a replacement shirt. I thought about going with an old standby -- but oh, lordy, I couldn't take the guilt if anything happened to Tedy Bruschi. Last weekend, watching the game, I thought I might go in for Ellis Hobbs -- he's been around long enough to prove sturdy and everything, yet he's not exactly an everybody's-wearing-his-shirt marquis star -- but no sooner did I have the thought then BAM. He got hurt. On his shoulder, nonetheless. They say he'll be okay, they say he'll play this week against the Colts, but I'm definitely going to leave his #27 shirt alone. I even briefly considered the new kid -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- but then I thought: he's got enough weight to carry around with all those extra names, he doesn't need me hanging off his back as well.

But then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was riding in the back of a moving pickup truck in the rain, with all wet leaves and everything along the road, and I decided it would be symbolically amusing to toss my Maroney jersey over the side. So I did, and as we drove on, I watched it sort of flatten itself and become one with the leaves and tar.

A few miles later, we stopped at an intersection, and there was a fellow in his front yard with a handsaw, slicing the number off the back of a football helmet. It was a vintage one, with the old logo on it, and the number that he cut off and tossed aside was 40. I asked him why he was doing it, and he said "Fuck him. He's like sixty years old these days. Who needs him?"

I jumped out of the truck and ran back all those miles in the rain, up and down hills, through leaves and everything -- past, for some reason, a display of Chicago Bears jerseys all mounted in hand-over-heart salute -- but when I got back to where I'd dropped Maroney, he was gone.

And I woke up.

There is no way I knew this at the time, but I googled it this morning. Number 40, from 1976-1982, was a fellow by the name of Michael Haynes. He, too, sat out almost an entire season on injured reserve -- after playing in the first six games, just like my boy. I know this has to be the fellow that I dreamed about, because there hasn't been a #40 since. The Patriots retired the number after he took it off. He's a hall of famer, now.

I'll be putting my #39 jersey on again this week. Until Santa Coach says this gift's broken for good, who am I to question the wisdom of his workshop? If nothing else, as long as Maroney isn't on the field, at least the Jinx can't be doing him any harm.

But, um, speaking of Santa Coach... can I stop running these suicides now? Pretty please? I'm really sorry!



pork luck said...

Good girl! Stick to your guns baby!

My mom got me a Giants jersey for christmas one year.. with MY name on it. I cant wear it to the bar or a game tho because people always ask.. Hey, who's this STRONG fellow? He never played for the Giants. Nope, its me. I'm a dork.

EGE said...

Yeah, dang. Talk about your double-edged sword!

jen said...

Okay, so I'm kind of laughing my ass off, here because football is lost on me.
This is what I know about football: Reggie Bush is hot.
And, I loved Reggie Bush (no idea what team he plays for) because of a sweater article in Esquire, and he kind of had the sweater on, but more importantly he kind of had the sweater OFF. Good Lord! I was like THANK YOU FOOTBALL.
Then? He started dating Kim Kardashian and Im all like, Yuck. She's a skanky ho. Yeah. I said it.
So needless to say I stopped loving Reggie Bush. But when he breaks up with her, its back on.
OH! I also love LaDainian Thomas (no clue who he plays for either). I saw him on 60 minutes, and he seems like a real stand up guy.
AND, I like the Manning boys (Colts and Giants, right?) because their commercials are funny.
When I want to watch big men run into each other? I want it to be fists running into faces and I want them to be half naked. I LOVE me some boxing and that's the only sport I like to watch.
the end.

su said...

2 funny anecdotes
#1 Wes Welker went to a Halloween party a couple of years ago dressed up as a platter of poop. Even taped corn to the costume to make it more realistic!!!

#2 Santa Coach awards special parking places at the stadium for the season, during training camp for off season deeds. Conditioning,community involvement etc..... Kinda like the MacDonalds employee of the month spot!!! I can just imagine the ranking and ribbing that goes on at that session!

EGE said...

Oh, Jen. It's a good thing I love you. Because we HATE LaDainian Tomlinson, and we HATE Peyton Manning. Eli, though, is just a big old doofus. And I have no opinion about Reggie Bush either way (but then, I've never seen him without his shirt).

Kim Kardashian IS a skanky ho.

I stopped watching boxing when Mike Tyson was winning fights in thirty seconds and biting people. Creepy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you'd had one too many beers before bed with a dream like that :)