There's a line in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" that is one of my favorite literary quotes of all time. Speaking of the protagonist as he begins randomly visiting moments in his life with no control over his chronological destination, the narrator says, "Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."
That is me right now. Not just me, but I think anyone with any sort of emotional attachment to the New England Patriots over the last two decades. We've come unstuck in time. With no control over the events that are playing out before us. No linear order to things No inner logic. No way to make sense of it.
Up is down. Inside is outside. Night is day. The Patriots are a pleasant surprise. ESPN is impressed with them. Max Kellerman admires them. It's a reserve reality where everything has been turned in on itself and no rational thought is capable of processing it.
I mean, I could justify Kellerman being on board with Cam Newton because Newton is not Tom Brady. That this helps Kellerman's four year argument that Brady is a cliff-dwelling old who's going to morph into a "bum" any day now.
And there's probably some truth to that. But it doesn't make it any easier to wrap my brain around the fact that the Patriots are being treated likefan favorites on "First Take," of all goddamned places. Consider how quickly they went from "Dynasty in decline" to "Their run of success is officially over" to "Surprise plucky underdog." It's like we've gone back to 2001 and are reliving it. A franchise once again led into respectability by a lovable quarterback who never should've been overlooked and now is making the most of his opportunity.
And now even professional Pats-baiter Max Kellerman is saying that this team's ceiling is the Super Bowl, as long as Newton stays healthy. Weirder still, I'm agreeing with him. Yes, the Chiefs are the favorites. By a wide margin. But assuming the offense continues to progress, find out the various things they're capable of doing well (especially now that James White is coming back to give them an element they've lacked the last two weeks) and the defense cleans up some issues they've had in the deep passing game, I absolutely can see them going to Kansas City for an AFC title game and then we'll see. We'll have a lot better handle on it in three days. But just the fact that it's October and I'm not deriding Cliff Kellerman as a trolling scarecrow and encouraging Patriots Twitter monkeys to fly out of the witch's castle and rip the straw out of his shirt, is the most surreal thing to happen in an increasingly weird world.