SAGAMORE, Mass. Richard “Richie” Guertin is a forlorn-looking figure as he sits in a police cruiser sipping a cup of coffee while Adele Smithers, a volunteer from a local suicide prevention charity, assures him he’s made the right decision. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you,” she says cheerfully. “A meaningless job, annoying neighbors, a crappy 2019 Kia Ray–what’s not to like?”
The source of Guertin’s despair that caused him to contemplate a leap to his death from the Sagamore Bridge, the #1 site for suicides in New England? “You can’t really blame me, can you?” he says to Sergeant Dan Hampy of the Massachusetts State Police. “I woulda had nothin’ left to live for if the Patriots opened the season 0-2,” he says of his abandoned effort to kill himself.
Hampy surveys the scene and decides to let Guertin off with a warning. “People like you cost the state a lot of money in overtime for people like me,” he says tersely. “If it keeps up, I may be able to buy a place on Lake Winnipesaukee and retire early.”
Law enforcement officers have been on high alert since the New England Patriots, winners of six or seven Super Bowls, no one knows for sure, lost their opening game to the Miami Dolphins, a group of highly intelligent aquatic mammals. Because of the Patriots’ past success, fans have grown complacent and feel entitled to regular season victories and at least one (1) home playoff game per year.
Disaster was averted when the Patriots squeezed out a 17-14 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team whose own glorious past has faded due to competition from low-cost, high-tech steelmakers in other countries.
The New England professional football team provides vicarious meaning to the lives of men in the region who otherwise suffer from the quiet desperation spoken of by Henry David Thoreau, a local 19th century sage who died shortly before the merger of the AFL into the NFL.
Thoreau: “Take the points on the road.”
The Patriots went two decades between losing seasons before falling to 7-9 in 2020. That disaster set off an extended period of soul searching that ended only when television re-runs of “Soul Train,” a dance show that aired from 1971 through 2006, had been replayed in their entirety on the region’s cable TV stations.
Grief counselors say it is unrealistic to expect spoiled Patriots fans to recover immediately from the team’s fall to mediocrity following the departure of quarterback Tom Brady, and that the healing process will take time. “In a situation such as this a change of scenery is critical,” says Dr. Linda Sentri of MGH-Brigham-Pilgrim-Vanguard-Partners, the region’s sole remaining health care provider following a series of mergers. “If Mac Jones gets a supermodel wife like Brady, male fans can find closure by ogling her.”