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New England Patriots

And the Awards Go To….

by Matt Wells

OK, so we’ve completed 9 weeks of the 2007 NFL season.  After the dust settled following the big New England/Indy game, we have the Patriots remaining undefeated and looking as calm as can be in the clutch.  The Colts shouldn’t feel bad; 7-1 is nothing to cry about.  Then…we have the rest.  I’m not going to sit here and hand the Lombardi Trophy over to the Pats just yet.  The Colts still have a legitimate shot, too.

But, who are we kidding?  There’s no team in the NFC that holds a candle to either of the AFC powerhouses.  That New England/Dallas game a few weeks back was supposed to be close.  Too bad nobody told the Patriots.  The Cowboys, Giants, Packers, Saints, and the rest of the NFC elite can’t beat the Patriots or Colts.
However, the Patriots can start preparing their speech for the post-Super Bowl party.

Tom Brady is going to win the NFL MVP Award.  You might as well give him NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, too.  Bill Belichick, the sweatshirt-wearing, never-smiling spy who likes to run the score up on helpless defenses and never congratulates the other team’s coach despite a well-coached game by the opponent, will win Coach of the Year.  Robert Kraft deserves the Owner of the Year Award because….well, just because.  I’ll give the NFL Offensive Coordinator of the Year Award to Josh McDaniels, for the Patriots will probably shatter the NFL record for most points in a season.

It’s Kraft’s acceptance speech that I’ll focus on.  There’s just so many people to thank and, because the Patriots are the uber-team, he gets all the time in the world to thank people.  If, for some reason, he got very little time for his acceptance speech, well, the Patriots would just turn around and beat everyone by 70 points instead of the pedestrian 40-50 they’re putting up this year.  (Only 50 points per game over the past three weeks?  Only 24 against the Colts?  For shame.)

Emcee: And the NFL Owner of the Year Award goes to…<opens envelope>…Robert Kraft, Owner, New England Patriots!

<Applause>

Robert Kraft: Thank you, thank you.  Wow, this is so unexpected.  I mean, we killed everyone in the league this year, but…WOW!  Don’t you cry, Robert, don’t you cry!  It’s be a man, time!  Get it together…get it together.  Okay.  Sorry about that.  Anyway…where was I?  Oh, right.  This award…it’s so unexpected.There’s just so many people I’d like to thank.

<Gets out a 6 X 8 piece of paper.  Audience gasps.  The faint cry of “Oh, come on!” escapes from the back of the hall.>

Robert: OK.  In no particular order.  I hold everyone dear.

I’d like to thank the Oakland Raiders…

This offseason, the Raiders traded Moss to the Patriots for…a fourth round pick.  That’s it.  The Patriots didn’t have to give up a key player on their roster.  One draft pick for Randy Moss (you’ll see later on that they gave up two for Wes Welker).

Moss’s attitude is what got him the ‘ol heave-ho in Oakland.  His practices were half-hearted or non-existent.  He was working on his own schedule.  You’ve heard of “Manny Being Manny?”  This was “Randy Being Randy,” and angering everyone he crossed paths with.

Said former Raider offensive coordinator Tom Walsh: “Randy Moss is a player whose skills are diminishing, and he’s in denial of those eroding skills…Randy was a great receiver, but he lacked the work ethic and the desire to cultivate any skills that would compensate for what he was losing physically later in his career.”

Change of scenery.  Change of personnel.  Change of supporting cast.  Change of Randy.  Through the first 9 games of the season, Randy Moss is on pace to break the NFL record for touchdowns in a season by a wide receiver – 22.  Receiving yards in nine games: 924 (he had 553 in 13 games last season).  Receptions: 56 (he had 45 all of last season).  In 9 games, Moss has more touchdowns than he had in 2 seasons combined in Oakland (total: 29 games).  That’s just unfair.

So, thank the Raiders for giving up on Moss, dealing him to an elite team, and watching him play Godzilla to the defenses’ tiny little villagers on the gridiron.  One draft pick?  Nice, Oakland…real nice.

I’d like to thank the Miami Dolphins…

That’s right…those Miami Dolphins.  Mr. Kraft can thank the Dolphins for being absolutely futile in the most lopsided division in football.  But, he is thanking the Dolphins for another reason: Wes Welker.

It was Randy Mueller, Miami GM, who decided to trade WR Wes Welker to the Pats.  For what, you might ask?  The Patriots second- and seventh-round picks in the 2007 draft.  There’s just too many things wrong with that.

First, the Fins traded away their best wideout from the 2006 season.  Welker finished last season with a team-high 67 receptions for 687 yards.  He’s also an excellent special teams player, utilizing his speed to create big gains.  At least get a proven player in return for him, not two draft picks that may be flops anyway.

Secondly, and most importantly, they traded Welker to a team within the division.  Within the division!  Adding insult to injury is the fact that the Dolphins have to play Welker and the Patriots twice this season.  Welker’s first game against the Dolphins this season?  Nine receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.  Still like trading him to a division rival?  Weakening your own stance and making a rival stronger is just…it’s incomprehensible.

I’d like to thank the Philadelphia Eagles…

The Eagles are the team that let wide receiver Donte Stallworth sign with the New England Patriots prior to the start of the 2007 season.  Now, as of this article, Stallworth isn’t even close to having the numbers that Randy Moss and Wes Welker have put up.  However, the Eagles loss is indeed the Patriots gain.  Stallworth is another target for the now receiver-heavy Patriots.  Even though he is a number three wideout on the team, Stallworth is on pace for more catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns than he produced with the Eagles in 2006.

I’d like to thank the NFL…

There are two reasons to thank the NFL from the Patriots standpoint.  First, the NFL has had a helping hand with the Patriots success because the rest of New England’s division consists of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets.  You have to figure that that leads to 4-6 guaranteed wins per year, leaving just 5-7 wins (an estimate) to clinch a playoff spot.  Of the other 10 games to be played, you figure the Patriots play at least 4 teams who occupy the bottom of the league.  Right there, that’s, let’s say, 5 wins in the division and 4 wins against the bottom-feeders.  Nine wins is pretty darn close to a playoff spot already.  I know you can’t change the geography of the United States, but still…nice division alignment.  Remember when the Colts used to occupy the AFC East (back in the days of 3 divisions in each league)?  Those were the days…

The Patriots can also thank the NFL for blowing Bill Belichick’s cover in Week 1’s game at the Jets.  A Pats assistant was caught spying on the Jets from the New England sideline.  Why blame the NFL on this matter and not exalt them?  Well, for one, I’m sure other teams do it, too.  However, the real reason we should blame the NFL for blowing the whistle on the Pats is because, in the process, they have made Bill Belichick mad.  Very, very, mad.  So mad that he runs up the score on helpless defenses.  So mad that he benches Tom Brady in a big game and puts him back in there when backup Matt Cassel throws one interception in two pass attempts.  Oh dear, we can’t let the Dolphins cut the lead to 14 now, can we?  So mad that he treats the opposing head coaches like ice.  Oh wait, he did that before Spygate.  Belichick is out for revenge on anyone or any team that gets in his way.  Thanks, NFL.  You did the right thing, but still…

Emcee: Well, there you have it.  Excellent speech, sir.  You know, someone is in the back spying on you.  <laughing> I’m just yanking your chain.  Kudos to you and your franchise.

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Now, keep in mind, I mean no disrespect to the Indianapolis Colts and their fans at this moment.  A 7-1 record to start the season is quite impressive, as is the team’s roster.  I chose to glorify the Patriots because they have slapped almost every team around so far in such a way that has never been seen before.

The additions of Moss, Welker, and Stallworth have made every Sunday afternoon/Sunday night/Monday night day Tom Brady Day.  Throw in an irate Coach Belichick, and, well, the other teams might want to duck for cover.  This will get uglier for the others before it gets better.

Not thanked in Mr. Kraft’s speech due to time restrictions: Santa Claus (because he’s loved in New England, not hated like in Philly), Manny Ramirez (for just being Manny), television (for airing Patriots games and using Peyton Manning in so many commercials that it distracts him from his gameplan…they hope), cheerleaders (you know why…) Alex Rodriguez and Joe Torre (for making the city of New York now way behind Boston when it comes to winning in sports), God (for creating Sundays and Mondays), and the fans.

By Matt Wells

27 years old. From New Jersey. I'm a fan of all four major sports, though I know most about football and baseball. Favorite teams: Sabres (NHL), Yankees (MLB). General fan of baseball and football, as well.

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