Got my hands on a copy of the Patriots Super Bowl XXXIX DVD this past weekend and enjoyed it immensely, especially the bonus feature that condensed the interviews down from media day. Can't wait to see Three Games to Glory III.
The one cloud in all the silver lining was the dull ache of watching the exuberant Tedy Bruschi, flying around the field, hollering in triumph after a big hit, finally mouthing into the camera in the Super Bowl aftermath, "That's three."
According to reports in both the Globe and the Herald, a congenital heart defect may have allowed a blood clot to go to Tedy's brain, which caused the stroke. According to a doctor quoted in the Herald report, it might not necessarily preclude No. 54 from playing again.
And so the anxiety level is intense--almost as intense as Bruschi. And according to the Globe, it's verging on hysteria. News crews are sitting outside his home day and night. Those crews, of course, are saying that public interest is pushing them to be aggressive:
"You have to realize that Tedy Bruschi is a public figure and as well-known as a prominent politician. That means he can't have the expectation of complete privacy."
"It's been a frustrating story to cover," said Channel 25 assistant news director Paul McGonagle. "People are e-mailing us and stopping our crews out on the street to ask, `What's the real story?'
Then again, while such intense scrutiny is the last thing Tedy needs, it's a measure of how much New England needs Tedy.
It makes me think of a recent post on a political / cultural blog I read called Eisengeiste:
Normally, there is a direct relationship between the size of a monkey's brain and the size of their social group - bigger brain, bigger group, a relationship so strong that, as David Attenborough pointed out, you don't even need to know the species to know how big the monkey's social group is. So if baboons hang out with about 25 baboons, it's not too big a stretch to connect this to humans, who social groups seem to be idealized at about 150 individuals. Big brain monkey, big social groups - and most people's meaningful social worlds are roughly that size. Or, more to the point, were.
I've thought for some time that the rise of of the turbo-celebrity culture is related to the techonological displacement of human relationships. In other words, the spaces of our minds which would normally be dedicated toward dealing with our fellow 150 primates starts to get taken up by recognizable people we know only from electronic images and sounds.
Case in point: Tedy Bruschi. None of us knows him, and yet we do. He's on prayer lists at churches. He's scrutinized and hounded about his health because, in that strange pseudo-social way, it's as if a member of our family or social group is threatened, and yet we have no access to do the things human beings want to do for loved ones naturally--protect them, comfort them, gauge with our own eyes their level of health. So it's a difficult situation. On the one hand, I'm just as interested as the next person on what will happen to him, whether he will be okay. On the other, I understand, at least intellectually, that he is his own person. And he should be left alone.
Meanwhile, I find nearly obscene the idea that people would ask if he'll play again. And frankly, if he does, I'll be a little bit mad at him--he has three little kids at home who need their Dad more than the Patriots need a linebacker. So right now, I'm going on the assumption that he will not be back in uniform.
Plus, even if he was, he might lose some of that no-holds-barred, damn-the-torpedoes leaping energy that has endeared him to us so much in the first place on the field. I'd rather he bow out gracefully than fade gradually--or worse.
It's hard, though, right now, to see his smiling face on the television, so deceivingly familiar, someone all of us love but none of us know.