It’s too soon to bury New England Patriots

Most folks who are paid for their opinion on matters involving the NFL have pretty much dismissed the 2014 New England Patriots as a train wreck. No Jerod Mayo, no Stevan Ridley, no depth, and no shot at staying on the short list of legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Before fans avert their gaze out of respect for the walking wounded, they would be well advised to stay focused on the Pats for at least one more game.

Thursday night, the New York Jets, who have been an irrelevant mess for awhile now, visit Gillette Stadium. Despite all of New England’s bad news, the Jets are 91?2-point underdorgs.

Amazing as it may seem, that spread is actually a point higher than the opening line established Sunday night. Does any Patriots fan really want to risk missing Rex Ryan’s next step toward a pink slip?

Then, there is the reality that makes Roger Goodell’s pulse quicken each time it is noted: The NFL remains the professional sports model for competitive parity.

As proved by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, there is no preeminent team in the NFL. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks were poised to achieve unbeatable status until Dallas demystified them.

They may well get their certification on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the season ends, but no one needs a degree in NFL archaeology to see how easy it is for an odds-on superpower to fall short of a championship.

None of the above is intended to veil the Patriots’ very tangible problems. But let’s give them at least a week or three to see if they can figure out a way to work around them.

BLACK SEAT: Ted Williams’ longest home run is marked in the Fenway Park bleachers with a red seat. If Theo Epstein brought Red Sox marketing guru Dr. Charles Steinberg with him to Wrigley Field, Steve Bartman’s seat would be surrounded by tiny stanchions and the surrounding seats within spitting distance would be marked up at least 50 percent.

Cubs fans’ ability to revel in doom makes pre-2004 Red Sox fans look like perpetually sunny optimists. So, there must have been at least one or two beer-soaked expletives growled Tuesday in the name of Bartman, whose instinctive grab for a foul ball is said to have stopped the Cubs from winning the 2003 National League pennant. features a photo of what would’ve been the Cubs World Series caps, which were put in each man’s locker before Bartman’s moment of uncalled for infamy. Visitors will also find a portion of Will Leitch’s book, “Are We Winning” headlined as “A Prayer for Steve Bartman.”

Cubs fans worldwide who vilified Bartman should read this and offer apologies. So should Moises Alou, the left fielder who put Bartman in the crosshairs with his hissy fit after Bartman’s ill-advised reach.

The man who truly owes Bartman eternal gratitude is shortstop Alex Gonzalez, whose error on what looked like an inning-ending double play ball is truly the moment that sent the Cubbies’ chances into a death spiral.

TIME TRAVEL: Oct. 14, 1944 – One week after the Nashua High School football team traveled to Lowell and took a 7-0 win before more than 8,000 fans, the sports editor of the Telegraph, Frank Stawasz, shared a note he received from his counterpart at the Lowell Sun, Jack Kenney, offering an apology for the “the booing, from one section of the Lowell stands when Nashua’s purple-jerseyed athletes ran out on the field.’’

A written apology for fans’ boos.

Seventy years of alleged progress left a few things behind.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427 or

Also, follow Greenwood on Twitter (@Telegraph_AlanG).