New England Patriots Gameday: Wearing the patch


Being a Patriots’ Junkie is tough.

Patriots’ fans live a structured life…at least on Sundays, when mornings are a flurry of domestic responsibility in preparation for the game, followed by all manner of mind altering consumption and general excess.

Our moods and motivations are all tied to the outcome of the game, so our significant others and offspring become hopeful of a Patriots’ victory so that the planned celebratory trip to Micky D’s doesn’t become a homemade feast of water logged hot dogs and undercooked macaroni and cheese…

So being a Patriots’ football junkie is something that you might want to mention to – say, for instance – any person whom you may want to marry someday, because it can be ugly under the wrong circumstances.  On the few occasions that they lose a game, my wife treats me very gently and my kids hug me – not that they care, they just don’t want the hot dog/mac & cheese thing to happen.

Shane Vereen shown about to disrespect the Miami Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

But what happens when New England plays on Monday night and Sunday suddenly has a huge void right in the middle of it?

You can’t just hang around the living room / Man cave because around 1:00pm you will start DT-ing, and by the time halftime rolls around in the early game you’re wandering aimlessly through the house in various stages of dress, stopping only to obsess over things like the fact that there is less than half a bottle of dish soap left.

So it is of utmost importance that you have a plan to alleviate the anticipatory anxiety and congruent detox symptoms – and we here at Chowder & Champions are here to help, offering the following checklist to help get you through the bulk of your day, or at least until it’s time to get the kids settled down and then hunker down for the Sunday night game…

…which is a kind of a snoozer when compared to the following night’s blockbuster but, hey, football…right?

When the Patriots play on Monday night,  Sunday becomes a day of therapy – occupational or replacement, take your pick – and it’s a family effort, a baker’s dozen of tips to help you survive the day:

1. Sleep in as long as possible: Many fans have taken the initiative to get up and get started early, adding some positive momentum to their day.  This is wrong.  You’ll have everything done by 11:30, then you’ll have lunch and pass out in a food coma on the couch.

Which isn’t the worst thing that could happen on a Sunday afternoon, so if you choose this avenue in which to take up your Sunday, you are single and most of the rest of this checklist will seem absurd and pointless to you, so go back to sleep…

But for the rest of us, the idea is to butt-fumble out of bed after receiving a pile driver from your kid or a nasty elbow from the wife, not so subtly urging you to go see what that crash was all about – and to make some coffee since you’re already up.

2. Hygiene is key: Get the kids some Doritos and Pepsi, then go get a shower.  Don’t shave.  Rather, leave your beard bordering on standard wino trim.  It elicits sympathy from the checkout people at the places that you have to go, and helps other addicts recognize you at Walmart, because you know you’re gonna have to go there at some point.

3. Coffee helps: It really does.

4. Appropriate nutrition is essential: After becoming showered and properly groomed and clothed – Patriots’ gear is fine – it is time to properly address brunch, which should always be done in excess.  This particular Sunday I am building my world famous Breakfast Club Sandwiches, which are illegal in some jurisdictions, due to both their addictive qualities and artery clogging properties…

…they also make a hell of a mess – on you, your victims and the kitchen so build a little cleaning time into your schedule.

5. Wear the Football patch: Watching football games not involving the Patriots is like wearing a nicotine patch.  it replaces the addictive substance, but it’s not quite the same.  But it’s football.  And it’s December football, which means that there’s always the chance that one of the Patriots’ rivals will see their post-season hopes squashed like grapes.

And suddenly remembering that this is a sports website, I have incorporated the watching of football games into this checklist – stuff that will help enhance your viewing pleasure as well as divert your attention away from the spider-heavy hallucinations:

6. MVP Race: Truthfully, anyone that still has designs on the league MVP trophy either played on Thursday night or will be playing Monday night, with the exception of Adrian Peterson.  A big day could land him right in the thick of the race.

7. Kevlar Ben: The Steelers will throw Ben Roethlisberger back out as their starting quarterback, complete with Kevlar-lined padding to protect his injured ribs and shoulder. But now we couldn’t care less…Charlie Batch got the win over Baltimore that benefited us in playoff positioning, so whatever, Steelers.

7a. Playing out the string in San Diego: The Chargers head into Sunday’s game riding a four-game losing streak and they’ve never won in Pittsburgh, posting an 0-14 mark all-time.  Norv Turner is a lame duck coach with a team that quit on him a long time ago.  So, again, whatever.

7b. The collapse of the Ravens: The only reason that Pittsburgh has the heavily armored Roethlisberger playing right now is that the Ravens are in a tail spin and face a difficult final stretch, giving Pittsburgh a glimmer of hope for the North Division title. The Ravens can keep losing so far as I am concerned, and the fact that they are facing an RGIII lead Redskins team fighting for a playoff spot gives me optimism.

8. Disrespecting the Dolphins: Some of the Miami Dolphins are upset because the Patriots found some success running the ball off left guard, running the same play repeatedly.  Well…yeah.  Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, expose a weakness in the opposition’s run defense and capitalize on it six times in a row?

I watched the tape a couple of times, and never really thought of leveling any sort of indictment against  7th year backup defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, a 6′ 7″, 305 pound product of the University of Tennessee for getting mauled and pushed around by the Patriots’ offensive line – that is until he told a newspaper reporter that he felt that the Patriots disrespected he and his teammates by running right at him, repeatedly.

I wonder if Jim Harbaugh read that column?  Now that the entire free world knows why you are a backup defensive tackle rather than a starting defensive tackle, I wonder if Frank Gore and his line and his offensive coordinator and every 49ers fan in the world wants to find out how badly you feel disrespected once your game against San Francisco has concluded?

That alone makes this game must see TV…

9. Adrian Peterson chasing Eric Dickerson: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson needs to average 165 yards in the next 4 games to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark of 2,105 yards.  Why not?  By all accounts, Peterson is a genuinely nice guy and the Vikings don’t have the Patriots on their schedule so try to tune in and watch this guy run.  He’s coming off knee surgery and is the very definition of comeback player of the year, if not Most Valuable Player.

His Vikings face the Houston Texans the second to last game of the season, and it would be a shame if Peterson didn’t run all over them…and a win against the Bears on Sunday would give the Vikings hope to continue a run to the playoffs.  A motivated Vikings team playing the Texans is much better than one playing out the string…Skol!!!!

10. Sanchez’ final stand?: The Jets are done, but there is always some kind of dysfunctional intrigue happening with them – and 2012 is a perfect example of that.  It started with the team bringing in Tim Tebow to compete with Sanchez in training camp and 4 months later, it’s still the talk of the team.  It never went away.  But you can be sure that the Jets’ GM and perhaps it’s Head Coach will be going away for badly mishandling this past offseason – and the fallout.

Tebow won’t be playing Sunday but some kid named McElroy will be ready and waiting if Sanchez “bumbles” to Jacksonville.

11. Colts feelgood story: No matter how long you’ve been a Colts’ hater, it’s tough to root against this season’s edition.  Gone is Peyton Manning and his smug greatness, replaced by a guy that may end up being even better.  The Colts mantra last season was to “Suck for Luck”, meaning that the team should lose games in order to land the 1st overall pick in the draft and the rights to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Colts still played to win and were competitive towards the end of the season – and now that Luck is blossoming into everything a quarterback should be, well, even if they are just playing the Titans you just can’t help but to want to see him play…

…Unless you happen to play for the Houston Texans, who get Luck and Indianapolis twice in the final three games of the season.  The Colts are in line for a wild card spot, but need to keep winning to secure the spot. With any luck at all – pardon the pun – the Texans will “Suck for Luck” and drop at least one of the two games.

12. Watch kickoff returns while you can: It’s looking more and more as if the most violent play in all of sport is about to be a thing of the past, to be replaced by a one play, 4th & 15 from the scoring team’s 30 yard line – from which they can either punt the football or elect to go for it to keep possession.  So instead of a kick off, we would have a punt from the 30, a far less dangerous prospect.  Instead of an onside kick, we have a 4th and 15 from the 30 – make the 1st down and you keep the ball….intriguing, other than one third of the “foot” from the word football is about to be eliminated.

13. Suddenly it’s 7:30pm: You have successfully wasted an entire Sunday…now you have about 40 minutes to get the kids fed, bathed and jammie’d-up before the Sunday Night game…or maybe you don’t watch the game – instead, perhaps spend the evening having an involved discussion with the wife, a video game with the kids…show them how much you appreciate them helping you through this most difficult of days…

…because Monday night you’re gonna get your fix of Patriots’ football, and the crisis will be over.  It starts late enough that the Micky D’s visit will have to be in anticipation of another great New England victory – so no matter how the game turns out, there will be no chance of water-logged hot dogs…

…which is the true beauty of Monday Night football games.