Sheehan ’12: Open heart surgery on a Patriots fan

Sports Columnist
Friday, February 10, 2012


In the days following the Super Bowl, I’ve been watching a lot of Scrubs. It is one of my favorite shows of all time. The problem with Scrubs was that, for all of its potential, it wasn’t able to maintain the high level of entertainment that it set for itself in the first four or five seasons. I think the best way to picture the show is as a top-of-the-line race car. Scrubs rolled off the conveyor belt as a fantastic piece of machinery. It was a great construction that its engineers could be proud of. 

Until the race car driver got ahold of it. Then he drove it into a wall. And when the car hit that wall, it flipped over seven times, sprayed the crowd with flaming hot pieces of metal they once found comforting and allowed the driver just enough time to get clear before it exploded in a cacophony of great ideas and ill-informed execution.

Is it possible to compare Scrubs to the New England Patriots? I suppose we could. I mean, they both enjoyed the majority of their success in the early 2000s. And despite high expectations, they both fell flat near the end of the decade. And they both featured lead men who had a very high opinion of themselves, which may have been what led to their downfall.

But that’s not why I’m writing this column. I’m writing this column because of one scene from the show that stuck with me and seemed extremely relevant, given the circumstances of the Super Bowl. It came in the second to last episode of the first season.

Dr. Wen is surgeon Chris Turk’s attending physician in the show, and Turk is puzzled as to how womanizing and borderline stupid fellow surgeon Todd is considered the best in his class of peers. Without flinching, Wen delivers the following line.

“When you are working, I can always see your wheels turning. You’re thinking of what you have to do next, what could go wrong. You’re not in the moment. As much as it pains me to say this, The Todd is.”

Is it possible to read those lines and not think of Tom Brady and Eli Manning? Maybe it is, but not for a Pats fan like me.

Tom Brady has always been considered like a surgeon, the best of his class, a guaranteed hall-of-famer who slices and dices opposing defenses with the emotion of your standard rock. I will trust Tom Brady with a football game if my life is on the line.

And yet, here is Tom Brady, the most clutch quarterback in NFL history, allowing safeties on the first play. Throwing the NFL leader in receptions terrible footballs. Airing out prayers to our injured tight end who can barely outrun or outjump the average box tortoise, not to mention an NFL linebacker, let alone  an incredibly average one.

What I saw in that game was an incredibly talented quarterback who was worried about his legacy playing against another talented quarterback who wasn’t. With every pass and decision that Tom Brady made on the field, you could almost see him thinking about where that would put him in the conversation of elite quarterbacks. With Manning, there was none of that — only a blank, unintelligible frown as he decided who to throw the ball to next.

In Scrubs, the scene with Dr. Wen is followed up with Turk thinking to himself in voice-over of all of the reasons that Wen is wrong. Meanwhile, a slow pan to The Todd reveals his thoughts to be, “Bumbadabum Badadbum Badabum shiny scalpel!”

And that is exactly how the Super Bowl played out. Brady sat on his sideline thinking about where he stood next to Joe Montana, and Manning sat on his sideline thinking about which Tonka trucks he would play with once the game was over. Manning has never had to worry about where he stands in history because he is the little brother of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. There is no way that Manning can ever top that, so he doesn’t have to worry about how he performs.

Except he has topped his brother. In blissful ignorance, Manning has catapulted himself into the conversation with Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and even his older brother as one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Manning was in the moment. Just like he was four years ago. That’s why the Giants won the game.

I want to be clear. I’m not throwing Brady under the bus like these hack Boston sports writers who are so quick to forget what he has done for us.

Any real Patriots fan knew that it was going to be a tough fight for us to win that game. Vegas and the rest of the world could pretend all they want that the Patriots were favored in that game, but we all knew going into it what it would take to win against the team that beat us in our own house earlier in the year.

In a stadium that was conservatively 80 percent anti-Pats, the team with the worst defense in the league put up a hell of a fight against an offense that everyone seems to agree is one of the best in the NFL. I’m proud of that.

There’s no making excuses about what “might” have happened with a healthy Rob Gronkowski, or if Wes Welker caught that pass. Because at the end of the day, I’m a hell of a lot prouder of my boys this year than I was four years ago.

Keep on slicing, Chris Turk. The Todd will eventually figure out he’s in surgery. And when that day comes, you’ll be our Chief Surgeon.


Sam Sheehan ’12 really hopes the Celtics beat the Lakers. He needs that badly. Talk sports with him at or follow him on Twitter @SamSheehan.

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