Anyway, the pertinent issue my father and I had been discussing is a "to be or not to be" dilemma in the life of the modern sports fan. With the modern day sporting career so short, not to mention fickle, do you follow players, or do you follow a team? Naturally, the ideal would be to do both. But as we've seen in Lawyer's case--one among many--it's not always a possibility.
The case of Lawyer Milloy has proven to me that the choice my father recommended, following a team, most preferably the home team, is probably best. I'll be the first to say that losing Milloy is regrettable. But if I choose to support the Patriots as a whole rather than a group of individuals, I can look back and see that Dan Klecko is coming up on defense, and while he doesn't play safety, he still looks to be a new, strong presence in that line. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi is still with us (knock on wood, of course). Overall, during the preseason, we had the strongest defense in the league. I won't say we have nothing to worry about without Lawyer, but we still have plenty going for us.
Whereas, if I were following players, I'd be torn whenever the home team plays Buffalo. I'd be choosing between an entire group that represents my hometown and one excellent (within the confines of one particular team, of course) free safety. If I were to divide my loyalties according to players I liked, with the way personnel move around in the NFL, after a while, I would not--could not--have any loyalties at all.
So it's root, root, root for the home team. I'm not really mad about the Lawyer Milloy situation the way many of my fellow fans are: like any job, people make life decisions based on their financial circumstances. Lawyer is young, very talented, and single. If he wants to move for more money, more power to him. And when New England fans pooh-pooh the supposed greed of NFL players in response to Lawyer's leaving, I wish they'd remember that the salary cap that ultimately caused the Patriots to have to let him go were put in place to counteract that very problem. I also wish they'd realize that with the average NFL career being only 4 years, and the average NFL player being, let's face it, not all that employable after their retirement from the league, $4 to $5 million per year gets put into perspective very quickly.
Most of all, I wish they'd realize why they're so upset in the first place: they're mad about Lawyer leaving because they don't want it to hurt the Patriots' chances this season, and they don't want to see the Patriots affected this way because, quite simply, they love their home team. And rightly so. I hope they join me soon in continuing to cheer them on.