Friday, December 8, 2023

Andy Young:: The New England Patriots are wrecking my life!

By Andy Young

The New England Patriots are awful this year, and I’m not happy about it.

It’s not like I’m a longtime devoted follower of New England’s National Football League team, or even a casual one, for that matter. Unlike legions of other people in this neck of the woods, I haven’t had to leap from the Patriot bandwagon this season, since I never climbed aboard in the first place.

And please don’t think I resent Philadelphia Eagle fans who currently plan their Sundays around their favorite team’s schedule, the way people around here used to do with the Patriots. If they’re enjoying their squad’s success, more power to them.

It’s been many years since I’ve followed professional football. In fact, I find the contemporary game actively off-putting. The NFL’s uber-rich team owners shamelessly exploit their performers, and indirectly the thousands of wannabes who aspire (but never get) to play in the league. Significant numbers of these modern-day gladiators end up physically and/or cognitively compromised, and often at alarmingly early ages.

But my attitude regarding professional football clearly isn’t typical. Most red-blooded American men (and also disquieting numbers of red-blooded women) can’t get enough of the NFL. Brutal or not, their product has been brilliantly marketed for decades; that’s why owning any of the league’s 32 franchises constitutes a virtual license to print money.

However, what bothers me even more is that the Patriots’ incompetence is playing havoc with what had, until recently, been my carefully orchestrated, extremely efficient personal schedule.

Like many who work full time Monday through Friday, I have to do my grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday, when the stores are mobbed, the checkout lines are endless, and the parking lot resembles a demolition derby.

But for years I was able to avoid the chaos involved with picking up provisions on weekends by finding out exactly when the Patriots were playing and heading for the grocery store right at kickoff time.

As long as Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and their pals were winning (or threatening to win) Super Bowls, my ingenious plan worked like a charm. Casually piloting my shopping cart down virtually deserted aisles at the local supermarket, I even had time for leisurely chats with the half-dozen or so other non-football fans who planned their weekly food shopping trips the same way I did.

But this year the Patriots are terrible, and the stores around here are packed every Sunday, regardless of the hour. What’s worse, it doesn’t appear things are going to improve for New England’s professional football team any time soon. It’s too bad they can’t play all their games against teams based in New York, since their two lonely victories have come at the expense of the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.

Two weeks ago, the Patriots had a golden opportunity to win a third game against an Empire State team, but somehow managed to lose to the dreadful New York Giants, whose quarterbacks have performed nearly as ineptly as New England’s have this year.

The Pats still have return engagements with the two teams they’ve beaten, but Buffalo is much better than their record indicates, and the Jets are one of only two teams with a victory this season against the Eagles, who own the league’s best record at 10-2.

Professional football (and yes, this includes the big-time college programs) is a dirty, exploitative, obscenely profitable business that I want no part of. But I wish the Patriots would become relevant again, because it’s getting awfully expensive (not to mention time-consuming) to drive to Philadelphia every Sunday to grocery shop. <

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