Last week I wrote a post that I did not care whether the Patriots won or lost their game against the 49ers on Sunday evening. Unfortunately my post ended up being inadvertently prescient, when tragedy struck a town forty-five minutes from my house in Connecticut, rendering this weekend’s football games momentary distractions from a weekend of grieving. On my train ride home from work on Friday I happened to share a car with a father of one of the victims, and I can say with certainty that sorrow and heartbreak of that magnitude should not be wished upon another living being.
The Patriots, and the rest of the NFL, paid respectful tributes to those young lives lost at the hand of a mentally unstable gunman, but I found myself not feeling particularly morose when the Patriots couldn’t do anything right in the first half and fell behind 31-3. Similarly, in the second half, I was only half-heartedly impressed with the might of Tom Brady, whose status as a clutch football player should no longer be questioned as he rallied the team from behind to tie the game 31, all before a blink-and-you-missed-it series of plays caused the Patriots to lose 41-34. But I didn’t really care either way when all was said and done. Yes the Patriots have given up their hold on second place in the AFC and a first round bye, but that’s nothing to swarm the lines of the local radio shows with this morning.
Too often this season football has had to take the role of soothing continuity provider in the face of great tragedy: the Denver pre-season, three weeks ago in Kansas City, two weeks ago in Dallas and last weekend, nationwide. Providing joy on such occasions is a large task for even an enormous organization. No doubt several of the six and seven year-olds and teachers had Giants, Jets or Patriots jerseys they were planning on wearing Sunday to watch with their families, only to leave those families with too many bags of tortilla chips and a cold seat on the couch. While it is strange to have the NFL linked with these tragedies, it does remind us that for the rest of us, life goes on and that there is always another game to play, even if that game no longer seems as important as it did only a few weeks ago.