Electricity warps outward in a dark alley. A flash of light burns then turns to steam. A nude male, 6'4, weighing 16 stone is kneeling in a glowing indention in the concrete jungle. The man rises, his body chiseled a Greek statue, his face calculated for a mission, eyes red as lasers. Beneath this skin an exoskeleton of future steel, programmed to destroy the youngest member of a NFL quarterback mill named Manning. This bloodless conception, know to humans as New England Patriot quarterback, Tom Brady is on a hunt--revenge his creed.
"I'm looking for Lucas Oil."
"It's all happening," was a common mantra amongst the throng of band sluts in Cameron Crowe's best film, Almost Famous, an apt expression, me thinks, for the ramp up to Sunday's football melee, a true unofficial American holiday that has evolved from clash of the bested gladiators to pop culture explosion when advertisers throw their tightest spiral into our collective eyeballs and gambling addicts bet on the outcome of a simple toss o' the coin.
This year's game will be different than all Super Bowls played before it. We all know what happened on February 3, 2008 in Phoenix as the Giants rose like the city they were playing at, on the shoulders of...well, Giants; looking down at the aberration that had become the Patriots bid to be the only 19-0 team in league history. It went down as the greatest loss in pro football history. Klosterman agrees.
Vince Wilfork enjoys his offseason...
But this game coming up should have the subtitle: Goliath Gets Back Up. The match-ups have be repeated to death by the so-called experts, but the one I am most interested in is the demeanor of Capt. Suave and the TE offense. The first couple of series will tell the outcome: If Brady comes out swinging, connecting throw after throw and gets at least 7 out of the first two series of chess moves, he has a good shot. But wait...this very thing happened in 2008. I guess the real thing we'll want to keep an eye out for is how Brady reacts to an early lead. Last time he didn't have the motivation to keep it going because, frankly, he was drained for the undefeated season and the ramp up to the equally draining Super Bowl hype machine that has been turned up to 11, it seems, ever since Janet Jackson showed the world her sunny nipple.
WTF just happened?
This Super Bowl will be different, mark my words--because Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. has a fire in his belly that he seems to ignite at his will. He's the Michael Jordan of the NFL that way.
Feed me, Richard Seymour.
Believe it or not, this chubster would become the purest quarterback in universal categories to ever play quarterback in the highest league. Tom Brady grew up just north of here, in a parallel dimension to yours truly (wouldn't be a metagonzo journalist it it didn't point back to me at any point in the game here). Really, Brady is an amalgamation of about 3-4 dudes I went to high school/played sports with. And now that I think about it, at my High School, Eric Rabuse was our Tom Brady.
Eric Rabuse was my best friend in 4th grade. The tandem of Rabuse/Stutsman were the equivalent of a terrorist network to grade school teachers at Woodlake Valley Middle School. Eric and I seldomly paid attention in class, goofed on all the goof-worthy candidates and we were obssessed with seeing the flick Raw Head Rex (a film I still have yet to see). Eric and I were so bad that it was requested that we not be allowed in the same class for the rest of our tenure at WVMS. But on a technicality, we were back at it in Mr. Lee's class in 5th grade. Eric and I quickened whatever eventually killed Mr. Lee that year.
The Rawest of all the Heads...
After 5th grade, the school officially made it a policy that Stutsman and Rabuse not be in the same class for the next three years. After that, Eric became a really good basketball player. To this day, I marvel how natural his layup was in 1988. He was also a great baseball player, leading little league in the HR category 3 years straight.
In Pop Warner hell, Eric became the starting quarterback, then he leap-frogged freshman league football and became the JV starter, perfecting his throwing motion and accuracy, leading the league in passing categories for two seasons in Charlie Dodd's west-coast offense. I would watch my former best friend with the same awe that I'm sure kids in the Bay Area did when they watched Tom Brady rule the roost on Norcal gridiron.
Long story short, Rabuse lost the fire in his belly (if he even had it, Eric was the most natural athlete I had ever observed, but his heart was more into doing stupid shit in class than completing a 78-yard pass to William Harrison on Exeter's home field) when he threw 5 interceptions in a the league-opener against Lindsay our Junior year. I always thought that Eric threw the interceptions on purpose, as a protest to the expectations of his dad, the coaches, the student body and the town. Can't you just hear the Rage Against the Machine soundtrack in the background? The next year, Eric transferred to rival Exeter where he may/may not have been illegally recruited (ah High School sport politics). The coaches in Woodlake made such a stink that Eric wasn't allowed to play any sport at Exeter his senior year, which threw a wrench into the machine since Eric was expected to dominate in baseball once again, that senior year all-important to show off to the scouts for the MLB draft. This move got Woodlake it's quarterback back, but it was moot because Eric hurt his hand in the only game he played in that senior year, a comeback effort against Dinuba were the Rabuse magic was once again on display....for the last time.
Tom Brady was also a Rabuse-esque natural at the big three sports. Brady was heavily pursued by the Montreal Expos in 1995. Instead, Brady opted for college to play baseball/football for the Michigan Wolverines. After the Wolverines won the National Championship following an undefeated season on the shoulders of Brian Greise, Tom Brady became the starter for blue and yellows in 1997. But even then, the much-hyped Drew Henson was nipping at Brady's heels, touted as the next two-sport prospect à la Bo Jackson and Neon Deion (Henson went on to play for the Yankees for a bit after college, retired from baseball and played quarterback briefly for Parcell's Cowboys before getting cut in favor of Drew Bledsoe, the man who lost his starting job to Brady in New England. Weird).
L to R: Drew Henson, some unknown Puke, and Gisele's meal ticket
Despite the Henson setback, Brady was able to start for the majority of his two seasons in Michigan. Then in 2000, Brady entered the NFL draft. Early analysis said he was too little to be a NFL quarterback and the NFL being the copycat league it is, Brady was passed up the first day of the draft until the Pats got him late in the 6th round.
Don't judge a book by it's cover...
My favorite Brady-is-a-T-1000 story happened not long after Brady stepped in for Bledsoe in 2001. I remember reading an article in Sports Illustrated at the CSUS student clinic (for undisclosed reasons), an interview with Belichick talking about Brady's autistic level attention to detail after taking the snap. If I remember correctly, Belichick was yelling at Brady after he threw the ball away on a 3rd down and Brady defended the decision by going into a detail-rich explanation as to why all his targets were covered as he rolled out of the pocket. Belichick probably gave him one of those knitted looks we all love the Coach for, but to his surprise, upon further review of the game tapes, Belichick was floored when he saw each receiver scenario play out just as Brady had described. It was at that point, I believe, Belichick knew he wasn't going back to Bledsoe in 2001--his franchise quarterback in New England was already under center.
As much as I love a good revenge story, I really don't want the Patriots to win on Sunday. But if they do win, Tom Brady will go down as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. This is enough to root against the Patriots in general, if they aren't your team, nobody should have this much success--at least according to your local Cleveland Browns fan.
The key to the Patriots winning this game will be to keep Eli and his receivers off the field, allowing Brady to take ticks off the clock as he moves the offense down he field for a slow motion score. This is an apt game plan, if there is one thing Brady doesn't do is turnover the ball. But if the possession clock is 50/50, the advantage is with the Giants--because the secondary of the Patriots has been more maligned than any other Super Bowl backfield in recent memory.
But if it comes down to quarterback play, I begrudgingly give the advantage to Tom (although Eli, four years later has proven himself an elite QB). It's all about the fire in the belly, Tom Brady remembers all the people who said he couldn't do it. He heard it in Michigan, he heard it at the combine, he heard it at Patriots training camp and if you asked him, I'm sure the pubescent chubster heard it too. And Tom Brady remembers. Oh, does her remember. And these are the memories that act as jetfuel to his eternal flame.
This is, ultimately, why I am just jealous of Tom Brady. I'm not jealous of his Adonis exhibition in Stetson adverts. I'm not jealous of his conquest of one of the most beautiful models in the world (high maintenance on steroids if you ask me). I'm not jealous of his athletic abilities, his ease of existence under center, his championships, his MVP awards, his role as the golden face (and arm) of the NFL. Not so jealous of his cars, homes, helicopters, island deeds and access to inner-party functions. The quality I am most jealous of is this fire I speak of. I am jealous that through all of the fog of the extravagant lifestyle he leads, Tom Brady still has access to that feeling of inferiority while his life seems to be free of this inferiority. Tom Brady is advanced enough to know that if he were to let go of this spark, he wouldn't be as successful, year-in/year-out. One thing you can bet on in this game and any game that Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is under center, it will not be lost because he didn't give it his all. This to me, is an impossibility. Pats get their revenge, 24-37.