Sunday, September 07, 2008

What's the Worst Thing That Could Happen?

Has an opening-season win on a gorgeous, sun-splashed day ever felt so hollow? Our sports nightmare was realized this afternoon in Foxborough, when Patriots QB Tom Brady suffered a potential season-ending knee injury. As a guy who's had his fair share of knee troubles, I don't think it's going to be good news. In fact, I'm shocked they let Brady walk off the field on his own power after the hit, never mind down a flight of stairs to the locker room.

The play itself was actually less of a hit than it was a kind of roll, or a lunge. Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard was picked up nicely on a blitz by Pats RB Sammy Morris, but his forward momentum carried him into Brady, who was just releasing the ball and had his left leg in a straight-up, vulnerable position. At the point of contact, Brady's upper leg went one way and his lower leg went the other. When he was writhing in pain on the ground, I had that same sinking feeling in my stomach that you get when a state trooper throws his flashing blues on behind you, and then passes you in pursuit of another driver. Now, with Brady no doubt holed up in complete secrecy in some medical institution in the Boston area tonight, the Pats shot at another dream season is most likely over before it really got started. Brady will have an MRI tomorrow and then we'll know more. (By the way, I love how the different sports websites throughout the day had little links saying 'Hear what Belichick has to say about Brady's injury.' No need to click - he had nothing to say about it. Just like, um, always.) If he's done, it will be interesting to see if the Pats target a veteran QB or stick with Matt Cassel.

It was a scenario made all the more surreal because we spent the whole pre-season around here talking about how bad our backup QBs are, and can you imagine if anything happened to Brady? Just a week ago, people were up in arms that Cassel had made the team after a crappy training camp. But lo and behold, you gotta give Cassel credit. For all the grief he took in the past week, his performance - not great, but pretty darn good considering - was inspiring and you genuinely felt good for the guy. The highlight was easily the 51-yard slant pass he made to Randy Moss when the Pats were stuck deep in their own zone. He also hit Moss later for a TD, and when he wasn't throwing it, he was relying on RB's Laurence Maroney and Morris to chew up some yardage. The Maroney/Morris team was impressive all day. And hats off, too, to the defense. They had a pretty solid showing all around, the secondary made some nice plays, and the goal line stand at the end to preserve the win brought back memories. Still, we realize that it was the lowly Chiefs, and oh yeah, we lost our Hall of Fame quarterback. Final score: Pats 17, Chiefs 10.

More on football as the week goes on, but let's get back to baseball for a second. If you haven't noticed, the front-running Rays are in the process of coughing up a big furball, and the Sox are the benefactors. One week ago, the Rays had a comfortable 5-1/2 game lead on the Sox, and our thoughts were mostly on winning the wild card. But then the Sox got hot against some pretty piss-poor teams, and the Rays had to contend with the Yankees (remember, A-Rod's always on when the games matter less) and the feisty Blue Jays. As we sit here tonight, with a much-awaited series with Tampa on tap at Fenway starting tomorrow night, the lead has been shaved down to 1-1/2 games. If all goes well, we could be in first place come Wednesday morning. Series matchups: Jon Lester vs. Edwin Jackson tomorrow night, Dice-K vs. Scott Kazmir Tuesday, and Josh Beckett vs. Andy Sonnanstine Wednesday.

(UPDATE, 9:58 p.m. - both Yahoo's Michael Silver and's Ron Borges are reporting that Brady is indeed done for the year with a torn ACL. Unbelievable. Pats fans - be prepared for an onslaught of 'karma' comments from the haters. Some reports are saying that the Pats will bring in Chris Simms tomorrow for a look-see. Cassel may keep the job for a while, but what happens if he goes down? If I hear the name Vinny Testaverde in the next few days, I will puke.)

What happened to your knee?
It's a long, long story... got a few hours?
similar injury?
Tore ACL and cartilage about 10 years ago and have never been the same. Had a big procedure about three years ago to help re-grow cartilage. It's been a long, long road. Getting better every day but still not perfect. I just hope the guy can play football again.
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