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The Measure of a Man

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When it was over, when the work had been done and he was with his extended family, the men he toils with day in and day out, his coach handed out three game balls: one each to former Raiders Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan and the third to Matt Cassel.  On any other day, throwing for 218 yards and four touchdowns probably would've netted him a game ball.  But this day was different.  It tasted different.  This game ball had a special meaning to it.  To win this game, starting quarterback Matt Cassel had to not mourn his father Greg's death, but celebrate it doing the very thing that made them both happy: playing football and playing it well.  There would be time to mourn.  There would be time for sadness, for family, and  for tearful embraces.  This day, there was water to carry.  There was work to be done.

And the work was done.  The measure of a man.

All games are must wins for the New England Patriots.  Our destiny is not in our hands, but we don't want to make it easy for anyone.  We've been fighting all season no matter what the circumstance.  The list of IR'd players is a who's who of starters and difference makers who have proved themselves worthy to wear a Patriots jersey, to represent New England fans on the gridiron.  And yet, this team is in the running for a playoff spot.  Who would've thought it possible?  We did.

If you've lost loved ones or dealt with the sickness of a relative, you know the feeling; I don't have to explain it to you.  The things you do from day to day become a little harder, a little bit more tiresome with the weight of your adversity.  When that adversity is lessened or hopefully lifted, your strength has increased.  Suddenly, what you thought was difficult is no longer that bad; it no longer wears you down.  You seem to move through these things with ease.  And you learn to enjoy the time you have.

Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away

Time Stands still

Those words, penned by Neil Peart, are hard fought and earned through time passing too fast and luckily, stopping to "smell the roses".  Hardship can do that to a person, it can bring things into focus.

There's only 32 starting NFL quarterbacks...in the world.  And his father, Greg, witnessed his boy, the one he threw balls to when he could barely hold a football, become one of those elite few to play the sport.  He saw you, Matt, and smiled.  He witnessed his son's dream come true and you made him proud.

The measure of a man.