I think I've mentioned this before, but one of my favorite ways to kill time at work is to do a Youtube search for "wake up pranks." It's just one of those things that never gets old; there's something about a bunch of videos of people getting woken up in any number of humorous ways that kills me every time. Be it a slap to the face, an overly loud airhorn, a gorilla suit, or (my personal favorite) a piece of lipstick slingshotted into someone's forehead at point-blank range, you just can't go wrong watching people get roused suddenly and in the most obnoxious ways possible. I try to feel bad for them, but deep down I know that these people should know better. You are responsible for choosing your own friends, and if you live in a cut-throat environment, you are going to get eaten alive the moment you show weakness. And when are we ever more vulnerable than when we are asleep?
Call me crazy, but I have a funny feeling that's exactly what happened to the New England Patriots last Sunday. They got caught sleeping. They were at home, coming off a loss, and simply assumed that they would follow the norm and bounce back - like they always do - against an NFC team missing its two best offensive weapons. Instead, the Giants came in, tied a long string or firecrackers to their shoe, and took great delight in lighting it as the Pats snoozed on the job. I can almost see Eli Manning lumbering away, slack-jawed, from the scene of the crime, clapping his hands together and laughing with a low, Goofy-esque nyuck-nyuck.
Yes, NFL players are supposed to be professionals and completely immune to complacency or relying on past success. And yes, Bill Belichick is the best in the business at keeping his boys focused and blocking out any outside distractions from the media or opposing players. But contrary to popular belief, this team (unfortunately) isn't comprised of a bunch of Ivan Drago clones that have been genetically engineered to feel no pain and constantly achieve perfection. They are human, just like us. And, like all humans, they are prone to the occasional rough patch and are allowed to have a temporary lapse in mental toughness. I know that there are plenty of people who would call the Patriots' recent woes more than just a slump, but I don't want to hear that right now. Spare me your talk of what has been happening all season or ways the offense and defense are trending each and every week; there is more to this game than stats, and the bottom line is that when a team gets complacent, it gets vulnerable. The more I think about it, the more I think that the Patriots, for once, got caught up in all their own hype and thought they were guaranteed an easy home win.
What they needed was a wake-up call. And for better or worse, they just got it.
It's certainly an odd feeling. Usually, the Patriots are the ones holding the slingshot, just slapping teams around left and right and imposing their will on opposing defenses. New England has been in the driver's seat for years now, and for what seems like the first time, they were asleep at the wheel.
I can't judge too harshly, because I'm just as guilty. I mean let's be honest: how many of you were truly worried about last week's game? I know I wasn't. At home game against an NFC opponent when the Pats had lost the week before? That's like combining Jack Daniel's, cheese balls, and a Scooby Doo marathon: a veritable lock for good times. I got caught thinking this game was a gimme, and I bet a lot of you did, too. I don't think it's completely out of the realm of possibility that the Patriots took the Giants a little too lightly last week as well, allowing the "we don't lose two in a row, and we certainly don't lose at home" mentality to take over. It may seem hard to believe, and completely out of character for this team, but it does happen. New England didn't look at all fired up for the Giants, and they paid the price as a result.
Which brings me back to my beloved wake up pranks. What makes them all so funny, in my opinion, is the variety. There are just so many ways to
be a jackass wake someone up, and these videos are getting more and more creative with each passing day. Yet, while the method in which the sleeping victim is woken up is always different,they all share one very important thing in common.
Once that poor schmuck is up, he's pretty damn steamed.
Enter the New York Jets - a smug, arrogant, in-your-face bunch of degenerates that think they are untouchable right now. The kind of team that would see someone sleeping peacefully and find a great deal of humor in slapping him right in the face before dumping an entire bucket full of cold water on his head. Based on the general attitude around the NFL and the sports media, you'd think that the Jets were a lock to win this Sunday night. You'd also think that the Patriots' season was over, Tom Brady's career just ended, and Bill Belichick quit football to become a mysterious masked pro wrestler known only as Hoodie.
Well news flash, people. The season isn't over. Belichick won't be dropping elbows from the top rope any time soon. Tommy B is awake, and he's pissed. It's a prime time game at the home stadium of the team that just gave him a sleep wedgie, and it's time to make a statement. Let everyone talk about how this team is in trouble. Let them point out this porous defense and how the offense is sputtering. Highlight how the Giants gave the Pats a rude awakening last week. Good for all of it, I say. Because if there's one good thing about a rude awakening, it's that it makes it pretty damn hard to go back to sleep. The Patriots are up, and they are none too pleased about it.
At least I hope so.
Because if I'm wrong, this whole analogy becomes less of a wake up prank and more of one of those situations where someone writes an obscene word on your forehead in Sharpie while you're asleep and you end up walking around half the day with no idea that it's even there.
And trust me when I say that there's no coming back from that.