This year I've had to think long and hard about what I want, because last year my wish came true. As 2012 came to a close, my wish was that the Red Sox would climb out of the AL East cellar. At the time, I just hoped for them to battle for playoff contention. My wish came true times 1,000, with Boston taking the 2013 World Series title. From worst to first, it was a season of the ages.
This year, my wishes are of the football variety. My Patriots are playing pretty well, and despite some major season-ending injuries, they are winning. But despite the record, something is missing. Primarily, there’s the absence of two 250-lb+ game-changing tight ends. One of them I can hope to see back next season. The other? Well I think right now he’s just hoping he’ll see the outside world sometime before he dies.
For my 265-lb freak, I wish a healthy 2014; one free of surgeries and full of catches, touchdowns and fiestas. Because we all know Rob Gronkowski es un fiesta. I hope his back, knee, forearm and whatever else ails him are good to go next year, and we are graced with a season full of Gronk.
My second request is for tall guys who catch good, and Gronk would say. For Tom Brady’s sake, I wish for a decent received corps. I don’t mean a mish-mash of average talent who are elevated by the play of a great play-calling qb; I mean 2007-esque talent, when The Freak was out there breaking all-time records with Tom Terrific. He deserves to end his career with some great receivers, instead of the mish-mash of talent he’s dealt with since Moss left. I mean a true receiver, not some little slot guy like Welker. Though great at what he did, I want to see someone who can make spectacular grabs like Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall.
Speaking of ending his career, I wish for a Fountain of Youth. At 36, I know that the end is drawing near for the Patriots with Tom Brady at the helm. I can’t imagine he has more than a couple seasons left in his arm, and I’m already freaking out. But my biggest fear? That Bill Belichick will decide to leave at the same time as his muse. Then I really don’t know what I’ll do. If Tom leaves but New England still has Bill, I feel like we can make it; without him, the dreaded “rebuilding” will begin. We've been a bit spoiled in the last 12 years, and I don’t think I can take a season of renovation. Every year since 2001, my football team has been a playoff and Super Bowl contender. I can’t remember a time when I “couldn't watch” the Patriots, or that each game didn't mean something. So I need Tom to drink some H2O from Ponce de Leon’s legendary spring and continue to be an active Patriot for life. Since I know this isn't logical, I hope that Belichick doesn't retire at the same time as the best quarterback ever (I’m not biased at all).
A guy who can run 100 yards a game… without dropping the ball. I am so tired of the Patriots’ non-existent running game. They have spurts here and there over the years, but they haven’t had a consistent runner since Corey Dillon. I trust Belichick, but his incapability to draft a decent running back is killing me. I know he thinks other positions are more important, which is obvious since the Pats never draft a game-changing WR or RB, but for once I’d love to have a guy on the field who I knew could just run up the gut and score some TDs. As Tom gets up there in years, having a reliable runner to take some of the pressure off would be a God send.
A new hip for Aqib Talib. One of my favorite Patriots, I fear Talib is going to play the rest of his career on one leg. A
legitimate option for Defensive Player of the Year before he got hurt Oct. 13, Talib
was completely shutting it down in the backfield – in consecutive weeks, he held
Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham to a COMBINED six catches and 62 yards.
Through the first six games of the season, with a healthy Talib, the Patriots
defense allowed just 16 points per game. Having a guy who can shut down the
opposing team’s best player can’t be understated. Then Talib hurt his hip
flexor, missed three games, and hasn’t been the same since he returned. That
said, Talib on one leg is still better than ¾ of the other corners in the
league. But imagine if he was 100%? That is my wish.
So, Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers, with your curled-up, fat, balled-up little fists pawing at the air … don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent… please hear my prayers for Tom, Bill, Gronk, Aqib and the rest.
And finally, my wish for all of you is that you have a very Merry Christmas, a belated Happy Chanukah, and a very happy and healthy new year. Here’s hoping for some great Bowl games, some kick-ass NFL playoff matchups, and, hopefully, Tom hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end. Amen.