The year was 2003; the month, July. We hadn't gotten more than six feet from our air-conditioned vehicle on our journey over to the practice fields at Gillette Stadium before it became clear that the sun was not kidding around that day.
It beat down just as mercilessly onto the metal bleachers next to the field as it had on the expanse of parking lot, turning them into pancake griddles for our tender behinds, acting like some leather-skinned sun-bunny's reflector screen to coat us all over with rays of blasting heat. My friend and I would spend the day watching the newest edition of the Patriots strutting their stuff, in between dripping sweat and guzzling water while developing blistering sunburns.
In the hazy heat of that afternoon I remember one new player in particular standing out--a defensive back wearing a regular practice jersey pulled up to show a red undershirt underneath. I noticed him because in drills that lined up the defensive players against the offensive players, he got into the face of No 12, over and over again, with seeming ease. At the time, it made me worry about our pass protection. Now, I realize that was just Rosie being Rosie.
The problem is that before we could see him in action that year, he went down with an injury to his hip that required extensive rehab. He's also been frequently injured since, which is currently the consensus guess as to why the Patriots have released him. I guess I can see that, but I think we've lost a key veteran presence when many other key veterans are going to be lost for similar reasons or retirement this year as it is. And I hope he doesn't wind up with any team we have to face too often, because I still remember that hot summer day in 2003 and how easily he reached No. 12.
In general, about the team and what's happening to it, I can only echo what Jamie said: "the big question now is what exactly Belichick and Co. have in mind as it relates to the defense." Patriots fans just have to hope there's a method to the madness--comfortingly for us, we can look back at the team's track record so far and know that there usually is.