Sorry to be writing so late; contrary to what you may think, I'm not saving my letter for the last minute to prevent you from checking your list twice. I give you a little more credit than that.
I'm going to be honest - I haven't been a very good boy this year. I'll spare you the details, as you've seen me when I'm sleeping and you know when I'm awake anyway. Let's just say that when it came to actively creating Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men this year, I was in line for the bathroom after a few too many bacon-wrapped scallops.
I also know that you and I haven't really seen eye to eye in the past. There was an incident with one of your mall representatives and a hunk of nacho cheese a few decades back. There was that exceptional 4 year cold streak of not getting anything I asked you for that I rode from ages 10 - 14. I may or may not have spiked your milk one year, and the reason you always got the irregular cookies at my house wasn't because I donated the good ones to the soup kitchen like I said I did. The truth is that I ate all the good ones and fed the ones I couldn't eat to the dog so I could take him out to do his business on the neighbor's walkway, hoping that snow would cover the evidence and he'd get a nice Yule Log surprise as he was shoveling the next morning.
But that's all behind us now. I turned 30 this year, and I feel that along with living for a full month's worth of Christmases comes the maturity and wisdom to finally put any feelings of resentment I harbored towards you to rest and accept the fact that I will have to live my life without ever having ridden a Power Wheels or owned a BB gun. I've accepted it, and I forgive you. I hope you can do the same.
I'm sure you're aware, based on my past Christmas lists, the logo on my stocking, the bumper stickers on my car, the decorations on the tree, the design on your milk glass, the picture on your cookie plate, and the Christmas cookie decorated to look like a gray hoodie that I left you a few years back, that I'm a New England Patriots fan. I love the New England Patriots the way you love red wool and well-kempt facial hair. You may also be aware (I'm not sure what the cable situation is like in the North Pole) that the Pats are currently in first place in the AFC with the chance to lock up home field throughout the playoffs over the next few weeks. As far as NFL fans go, it's God bless us, everyone all across Patriots Nation.
That shouldn't mean, however, that I can't write to you with my Christmas list. Sure, we have it better than, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars, but we've also earned it. So, I don't feel too bad asking for the following items in order to make the rest of my 2011 merry and the beginning of my 2012 bright.
And even if you decide not to do it for me - think about the rest of the Pats fans out there, will ya? I mean, Marima's been a good girl, hasn't she?
A replacement for Andre Carter. I know that this is a tall order, and Bill Belichick is already on record stating that replacing Carter will be a team effort. But Carter and his ten sacks left some big shoes to fill, and so I figure it can't hurt to ask you for some help as well. It could be Gerard Warren. It could be utilizing Ron Brace a little more or finding a way to maximize Shaun Ellis, who are both pretty fresh from lack of playing time this season. I'd even take a Christmas Miracle that sees Markell Carter transform from practice squad standout to Gameday standout. Whatever it is, New England is going to need a pass rush if it wants to keep playing deep into January, and without Carter, something else needs to be done. I personally would love to see a switch back to the 3-4, which was very effective last week against the birthday boy's good buddy Tim Tebow's vaunted option attack. I can see a base formation of Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork, and Brandon Deaderick as your down linemen with Mark Anderson, Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, and Rob Ninkovich as linebackers. Dane Fletcher and Brace could be subbed in if the defense wants to go bigger, and Anderson could switch back and forth between putting a hand on the ground and rushing in off the edge. Whatever it is, there's a big hole in the defensive front, and anything you can do to help Belichick out would be fantastic.
Increased production from Chad Ochocinco. Chad had his first and only touchdown of the year last week. And while it was his only catch of the day, he was also fairly productive as a blocking wide receiver. With Deion Branch sidelined and not 100%, I can't help but see the opportunity for Ocho to shine and gain some much-needed confidence that will allow him to become more of a weapon as the Patriots enter the playoffs. I think that Chad has been a very good boy this year; he's toned down his antics, he's worked hard, and he's done everything the coaches have asked of him. I think he deserves some Christmas cheer this year, and nothing would make him - and me - happier than a few more touchdowns and a very solid postseason.
For Pat Chung to get the hell back on the field. You must have an inside man somewhere out there, Santa - what's Chung's deal? He's been seemingly ready to play since mid-November, but he hasn't suited up since November 6th. If he doesn't get on the field soon, you may find yourself short an elf or two as Bill Belichick calls them out of the workshop and puts them back there at safety - it's gotten to that point. New England's secondary is struggling, and a lot of that has to do with poor safety play. I'm not going to ask you that Sergio Brown or James Ihedigbo play well - you're not a miracle worker. But I feel like getting Chung back out on the field in time to make an impact on the playoffs is well within your wheelhouse.
For Devin McCourty to step it up. Poor Devin. He had such a great rookie season, and now he's getting grief from all angles as he struggles so mightily during his sophomore year. I still believe in him, and I think all he needs is a good game or two (and some safety help - see above) to get his head right and start being the shut-down corner he showed flashes of being last year. I'm not sure what you can do for him, but anything you can think of that might give him back his mojo would be good for all of us.
A Texans Loss, a Steelers Loss, a Ravens Loss, and Jets Loss. I'm sure you are going to be getting a ton of letters from fans of all these teams asking for a win this Saturday. To that I say, can these people be any more selfish? I mean, it's Christmas Eve! Hands down your busiest day of the year. You have too many other things to worry about than making sure that four teams come away victorious. That's why I'm not asking you to help the Patriots win; you have a lot going on, and the Pats are perfectly capable of getting it done themselves. I imagine its infinitely easier to help a team lose - a gust of wind here, a bad bounce there, a last-minute case of the Christmas Blues befalling the entire team - than it is to work your already thinned Christmas magic and ensure that all four teams get the W. So, just go ahead and hand them all Ls across the board, the Patriots can wrap up the 1 Seed, and that will be that.
There are other things I could ask you for - a more consistent running game, more dependability in coverage, for Tommy B to return my phone calls - but I won't. I think that five things is more than enough. If you could find it in your heart to make all my Christmas wishes come true, then I promise I'll be as good as I possibly can for the rest of the year - all nine days of it.
Thanks, Santa. I'll be sure to leave you an extra cookie on Saturday night, as well as the key to my parents liquor cabinet, just in case you need a little extra holiday spirit.