Monday, and Boston, struck us all in different ways. I thought of the nearly three years my wife and I called Boston home, of the sights and local businesses we frequented in the area, and the people that worked there. The Marathon Sports store, at the finish line ... bought five pairs of shoes there, including the one I used for the 2010 half-marathon I ran. Friendly, helpful and encouraging to a decidedly out-of-shape guy like me. That Atlantic Fish restaurant ... ate there four or five times. That Abe and Louie's ... drank there a few times. That Lenscrafters ... made the glasses I'm wearing right now. In fact, when I picked up a pair there once and tied Bailey outside, they said, "Bring her in!" And so Bailey, my golden retriever, came in and sniffed all the lab techs.
And the street ... Boylston Street, where the marathon ends. That's where I waited for my late brother, Bob, when he ran the marathon 12 years ago, cramping badly at the end. That's where I waited four years ago for my brother-in-law as he finished, in crowds so thick we couldn't get within 50 yards of the finish line. So when the explosions happened, I thought what an incredible disaster this is going to be, with the crowds packed in so tight, everyone craning their heads to see their friends and relatives. And, watching from 200 miles away -- I live in Manhattan now -- I was struck by the rush of cops, EMS workers and fire fighters, running toward the bomb blasts while everyone else ran away, not knowing if there were more bombs to come, but knowing this was what they had to do. How gallant. And how much we take them for granted. The fact that, as I write this, only three people have died from bombs meant to kill hundreds is a tribute to these brave people, and to the doctors in a city filled with great medical establishments.
Patriots' Day in Boston, a local holiday, with the earliest ballgame annually on the pro sports calendar (11:05 a.m. at Fenway Park), and the Boston Marathon, is the kind of day I always had to explain to those not from the Northeast, commemorating the first battles of the Revolutionary War in 1775, in nearby Lexington and Concord. It's such a special day, with everyone out and about in what is the greatest walking city in America. It's the day when thousands of college kids stream into Back Bay and Kenmore Square for the party, and they meet Aussies and Asians and Africans and Europeans. Boston, meet world. World, meet Boston.
That's what someone tried to ruin Monday. No one will ruin it, because we won't let them. We can't. Our world is a different world post-9/11, and this was just another painful reminder of that. This touched sports, though, and that's why I wanted to send this simple message today:
Keep going. Keep going to marathons, to high-school soccer games, to college football games, to minor-league baseball games, to golf tournaments. Keep going.
Keep being us. We gather together to root for our brothers striving to finish the Boston Marathon, the biggest physical achievement in a lifetime. We gather to watch our kids play games. We gather to watch our pros play games. We gather at huge stadiums and small ones for events pro and peewee. It's what we do, and it's what we must keep doing.
The cliché of the week is
I know where I'll be on April 21, 2014. That's next Patriots' Day. I'll be in Boston. Red Sox at 11, finish line (or as close as I can be to it) of the Marathon afterward, dinner in Back Bay or the South End after that.
Hope to see you there. Hope to see thousands of you there.
Now on to your email:
ON MOCK DRAFTS.
Lots of GMs still go for the best player. Ted Thompson and his Green Bay disciples, for instance. But I think what will change in the near term is the way teams look for at least players in the first two rounds to play right away. Not all teams, but with colleges playing such a similar game to the pros in many conferences, there's no excuse not to be able to pick a couple of NFL-ready players every April.
WHY NEW ENGLAND GAVE A WIMPY OFFER SHEET.
My point is simple: In giving Sanders one year and $2.5 million, they are inviting the Steelers to match, and even if they get him, they are giving up a third-round pick for a guy guaranteed to be around for just one year. Maybe that makes sense to you. It makes none to me.
ON GENO SMITH.
Sam, this is a comment you should be directing to NFL teams. My reaction to Smith in my Monday column and in my mock draft in the magazine this week is based on what I hear from people in the league. All that matters is what they think at this time of year, and who they might pick. And I can tell there are some people in NFL front offices who like Smith a lot and some who are hesitant to call him a no-doubt long-term quarterback.