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What I Learned from the 2001 New England Patriots

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With the start of the NFL football season this week, I'm focusing on values, financial and otherwise that I've learned from football. I've long been a fan of the New England Patriots, even when they were embarrassing. I watched every game of their 1-15 season in 1990. They were equally embarrassing off the field with a few players' sexual harassment of reporter Lisa Olson. It is hard to imagine an organization being any more disappointing.

Things got better with the arrival of star quarterback Drew Bledsoe with that Patriots making the Super Bowl in 1996. However, they fell short of winning it, and watched their coach resign to manage another team. Things went downhill from there until they finished with a poor 5-11 record in 2000.

The Patriots lost the first game of that 2001 season. Their best receiver, Terry Glenn, wasn't playing due to a combination of injuries and off-the-field problems. Then the September 11th attacks happened. Football was the last thing on Americans' mind. Joe Andruzzi, a Patriots starter, especially was thinking about his two NYC firefighter brothers. They both survived, to be honored at game two of the season, the Patriots vs. the Jets. The Patriots lost this game as well, but that was the least of their problems. Star quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured so severely on one play that internal bleeding almost killed him. The team had lost much of the little talent it showed in previous seasons. Absolutely nothing was going right for the team. I prepared myself for 1990 all over again.

Mitigating your Setbacks with a Back-up Plan - This is the first lesson I learned of the season. Few people had realized that the Patriots had gathered a number of players that could help out in emergency situations. A player by the name of Tom Brady came in to replace Drew Bledsoe. Troy Brown and David Patten stepped up to replace Terry Glenn. The defense finally clicked with a bunch of veteran cast-offs from other teams.

Work at Improving Everyday
Over the next 8 games of the season, the Patriots managed to go 5-3, to get to a mediocre 5-5 record on the season. You could see on the field on that the players were starting realize where they needed to be on each play. Better than just knowing were to be, they were executing.

After that 5-5 record, they proceeded to run off a streak of wins that no one saw coming.

Take Advantage of your Opportunities
There is a saying that success is the residue of preparation, execution, and good luck. The Patriots definitely had luck on their side this season.

  • The Patriots won a game against the Bills from a great play by a player who was literally unconscious. David Patten caught a ball, got hit so hard that he fell unconscious, dropping the ball and the Patriots won. The referees concluded that part of his body had been touching the football while another part had been out of bounce. In other words, the childhood rule of electricity applied.
  • To be able to skip the first round of the playoffs with their poor start, they needed approximately 732 different things to happen. Going into the last three weeks, I noted that they had to win all their games (an obvious requirement). They also needed another contending team (I think the Dolphins) to lose their first remaining game, beat another contending team in their second game, and then lose their third game. Of course this all happened and the Patriots got to skip the divisional round of the playoffs, rest up, and gain home field advantage for the first game of the playoffs.
  • In the first playoff game against the Raiders - the Patriots really had the luck on their side. In a very famous game the Patriots appeared to had fumbled the ball only to have the referees pull an obscure rule to save the Patriots season. They also had one of the best field goal kicks of NFL history, a 45 yard kick through a driving snow - a play with so little chance for success most teams would even attempt it. With another field goal they were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

When the Odds are Against You, it's Time to Shine
The Patriots then went to play Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, a 14-15 point underdog. It's extremely rare for a team under those odds to win. However, they survived an injury to the hero Tom Brady, with Drew Bledsoe coming back from his injury to lead the team to victory.

It all culminated with a trip to the Super Bowl against the Rams. The Rams were looked at as an unbeatable team that year. They had the top ranked offense scoring over 500 points, which has only been done once since. The Rams defense was virtually as stingy as the Patriots, giving up just one more point. Las Vegas again decided that the Patriots should be a 14-15 underdog.

Team Work and Unselfishness
I learned last lesson in the pregame announcements. The Patriots had chosen all year to be introduced all at once, instead of individually, the norm. The NFL especially likes the drama of the individual announcement in the Super Bowl. However, the Patriots risked a fine and said they'd all come out together as they've always done. They stood up for they thought was right.

The Super Bowl started off great for the Patriots and they got off to an early lead. However, the Rams came back stealing momentum and tying the game up with less than two minutes to go. The Patriots had one last chance with the ball, but I remember the announcers (specifically John Madden) clearly saying that they should hold the ball and take their chances in overtime. The Patriots didn't agree and Tom Brady engineered one of the best drives in NFL history getting the Patriots in position to kick the winning field goal as time ran out. The game was over and the 2001 New England Patriots were left celebrating their victory.

While I went through all the lessons I learned, I didn't emphasize what they really meant to me. With many of the Internet companies not getting funding and not being profitable, I had been laid off. It meant that I not only had lost my income, but not having a job left me feeling like I didn't have a purpose. I had unrequited crush on a girl who I thought could become more than a friend, which kept me awake for days on end. It was my darkest hour were each day seemed to just get worse than the previous one.

However, I figured that if the Patriots could overcome the odds, then I could as well. Six years later, with a good income, some solid savings, a couple of ventures that give me great satisfaction, a new wife who I love, and I feel like I was the one that the Super Bowl.

Posted on September 6, 2007.

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20 Responses to “What I Learned from the 2001 New England Patriots”

  1. Matt Wolfe says:

    I’m loving all these football related to real life posts. I’m a huge football fan and I love reading these posts. I’m a Charger Fan, however, and last year you guys shattered my dream. But I guess I just have to learn to accept defeat and learn that you’ve constantly got to work to improve all the time.

  2. paidtwice says:

    I grew up in Massachusetts and I have been a Patriots fan all my life. I have had years where I lived and breathed Patriots football. This may be the best blog post ever.

    I have hanging in my family room here in the midwest where I now live a pennant from Superbowl XX that was printed before the game that says “New England Patriots, Super Bowl XX Champions” (I wish, ugh) that a friend found in a pawn shop for me in Boston years later. I was so happy when in 2002 I could get a pennant from a Superbowl they actually won to hang beside it. :)

    Thanks for writing this post.

  3. Kyle says:

    Great analogy. Looking forward to the season starting as well. Pats should be tought with Moss (if he stays clean anyways)

  4. Brip Blap says:

    I would love all of the football related posts, but I’m a little bit concerned at all of the Patriots mentions. When are we working some Jets references in here, or is there nothing you can take away from Gang Green? Heh. At least have the decency to go back old school and make a Steve Grogan reference or two…

  5. paidtwice says:

    Jets! NO. Shh….. lol.

  6. Lazy Man says:

    From Bill Simmons Football Preview:
    (Random note: We found out last spring that Larry David was a die-hard Jets fan who even calls Eric Mangini and the front office to talk shop from time to time. Could you have picked a better NFL team for him? They haven’t won a Super Bowl in nearly 40 years; their greatest receiver couldn’t see out of one eye; their most famous player tried to make out with Suzy Kolber on national TV; they lost a head coach who quickly signed with their arch-rival and won three Super Bowls; their most beloved defensive player had his career ended by a chop block from that same arch-rival, then watched his son get drafted by that same arch-rival and win a Super Bowl with them; they were victimized by the only fake spike that actually worked in NFL history; and now, their most famous fan is the guy who created a classic TV comedy about a self-loathing, sarcastic guy who hates interacting with anyone and assumes the worst at all times. That’s right, J … E … T … S … JETS JETS JETS!!!)

  7. Brip Blap says:

    I am unsubscribing immediately. I could take all of the hits on the Jets, but Broadway Joe? The man’s an icon. Feeble, but an icon. I bet Brady will never be as beloved. How could anybody in the NFL, ever, have Willie Joe’s charisma?

    We may not have your fancy Super Bowl trophies or your genius coach or your cool Revolutionary mascot, or your supermodel/actress impregnating QB but … wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah! J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! Revenge will be a dish best served cold!

  8. […] In perhaps the best football is relevant to life articles, Corey at Lazy Man And Money wrote about what the 2001 Patriots taught him. […]

  9. […] Lazy Man has learned a lot from the NFL, this time it’s from those damned 2001 Pats. […]

  10. […] myself, I liked the What I Learned from the 2001 New England Patriots from Lazy Man and Money.   I’m from New York, so I’m almost required by law to […]

  11. […] Lazy Man and Money talks about what he learned from the 2001 Patriots. […]

  12. […] favorite post this week (of all time) is What I Learned from the 2001 New England Patriots at Lazy Man and Money. I have been a Patriots fan my entire life (I grew up in the northeast, it is […]

  13. […] Seeing as how both of us are from New England, Lazy Man and Money and I have something in common – we both like the Patriots. Check out what Lazy Man learned from the 2001 New England Patriots. […]

  14. […] What I Learned from the 2001 New England Patriots by Lazy @ Lazy Man and Money. However, I figured that if the Patriots could overcome the odds, then I could as well. […]

  15. gameKiller says:

    It would be great if the Pats had won the 2001 superbowl fair and square but the cheating scandal has cast a cloud on that win. Too many players of average talent and a rookie QB – it’s just too miraculous without cheating. Sorry Pats but it looks like that win was stolen and so were the others (and the stories about Belichek’s personal life – it all makes sense now).

  16. Lazy Man says:

    I don’t see any evidence that the 2001 Patriots did anything wrong. There’s a lot of talk around the league that every team is doing it and the only reason they got caught was that Mangini tipped them off (since he was a former coach).

    If it is going on around the league like everyone says, I don’t mind, because it means that everyone was playing on a level field.

    The Patriots did it all on defense that year – their offense wasn’t ranked high at all. It’s worth noting that alleged cheating can’t help the defense, it helps the offense.

  17. Matt says:

    Yea… i like this comment “You could see on the field on that the players were starting realize where they needed to be on each play”.

    haha yea they did, they were video taping everyones plays. All i have to say is “*” (thats whats going to be placed next to every game the patriots have won).

    [editor’s note: The comment was in reference to their defense, which was the strength of the team. There’s nothing that can be stolen from the other team to help out the defense, since plays are radio’d directly into the quarterback.]

  18. […] on. I found this out the hard way earlier this week. It took less than a week for my post about the 2001 Patriots to come back and haunt me. For those living in closet, or not interested in sports, the coach of […]

  19. […] Man tells us what he learned from the 2001 New England Patriots. The Patriots weren’t cheating then, so there are some valuable lessons from that season. […]

  20. […] In perhaps the best football is relevant to life articles, Corey at Lazy Man And Money wrote about what the 2001 Patriots taught him. […]

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