Monday, February 07, 2011


Schadenfreude (noun): enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others (German)

As a Patriots fan, it's nice to see the Steelers lose. Apart from Mike Tomlin, there's really not much to like about that team. By the way, had Pittsburgh won, I would have written how Mike Tomlin doesn't get nearly enough credit as he deserves. Probably because he's not as secretive as Bill Belichick, not as preachy as Tony Dungy, and not as loudmouthed as Rex Ryan. The guy just coaches a football team and does a damn good job at it.

As a Patriots fan, and as someone who dislikes the Steelers, and who has an intense animosity (coupled with respect) toward Ben Roethlisberger, I'm relieved this morning. But I'm not happy. I'm not from Wisconsin. My team got bounced, early, again. So I recommend to my fellow Patriot fans not to smile so smugly today. Because for the last two seasons, we've enjoyed watching NFC teams doing our dirty work, and eliminating our rivals.

I do think that this game thoroughly exemplified what the NFL is truly about these days. There were about 10 quality teams in the League this year. And there wasn't much on paper that separated them from each other. Green Bay lost 6 games this year. They lost to the Falcons once, then beat them. The Patriots lost to the Jets, then beat them, then lost. The Steelers lost to the Jets, then beat them.

These games really do come down to execution on a few key plays. Last night, Pittsburgh's turnovers pretty much cost them the game. But there were also potential big plays that never materialized. Green Bay muffed an early punt, but fell on the ball. The entire shape of the game changes if that one play changes.

It's a League of execution. So while Patriot fans shouldn't be jumping for joy for a parade in Wisconsin, they also shouldn't be moping about. Our team in Foxborough, though imperfect, has sufficient talent to be among those 8 to 12 good NFL teams. They just need to execute. It's simple to say, difficult to do.

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