British singer and song-writer David Bowie is an alternative rock star who was popular with many of your parents, even before the days of Twitter, Apple Computers and U2 - never mind free U2 downloads on iTunes getting trashed on Twitter.
His song "Space Oddity" was released on July 11, 1969.
Low-tech side-effects. High-tech medicinal inspiration.
Just nine days after the song's release, Neil Armstrong [No relation to Lance] became the first man to walk on the moon.
Once upon a time, when your parents and grandparents were young like you, America routinely shot astronauts into space. We and they were fixated on rocket launches, space walks and moon landings.
A month after Yuri Gagarin did it for the Russians in 1961, Alan Shepard was the first American in space. He was a Navy pilot from New Hampshire. His cojones were the size of Neptune. He would eventually hit a golf ball on the moon. Shepard was the living definition of an American Hero. His father even co-signed the loan on my grandfather's house in Derry, N.H. back in the 1910s because the bank would not loan money to a Greek immigrant who had only been in this country a few years.
The aforementioned moon landing really happened. It was not filmed in some studio in Arizona. It was not part of a grand conspiracy to divert our attention from the Vietnam War. Nor was it the result of some alien force like General Zod jamming out airwaves.
Space travel was big back in the day when Bowie's "Space Oddity" make its debut. It was a sort-of fun poke at the British space program. In the song, the undaunted astronaut, Major Tom, is rocketed fearlessly into space. Soon, the mission goes awry.
Bowie, as far as we know, didn't have this year's Patriots in mind when he wrote this song. But the lyrics have become eerily prescient when applied to the current state of the Patriots and their beloved and beleaguered quarterback - Major Tom Brady.
A look at the lyrics show just how much Bowie knows about the current state of the Patriots.
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
No doubt Brady's helmet will be on as tight as possible when he faces the undefeated Bengals on Sunday. Protein pills, for sure. Some pain pills and hallucinogenics after the game probably wouldn't hurt, either.
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you
Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff
Liftoff on Sunday night, that is. National TV. Al and Cris. Admittedly, Bowie's countdown for his Major Tom isn't as quite as catchy as Carrie Underwood's "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night."
Underwood's and NBC's "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night" was based on Joan Jett's tune "I Hate Myself For Loving You." That precisely mirrors the feeling millions of Patriots fans shared about their team in the wake of Monday's demolition at the hands of the Chiefs.
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
... and your Uggs, and cologne, and pants, and jackets, and just about everything else about you.
Our Major Tom is not just a football player. He's a celebrity, the stuff of tabloid fodder who is married to a supermodel who is a bigger celebrity. Brady, like the astronaut heroes of America's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs did for their nation, has become symbolic of an entire region's success.
If Tom Brady is no longer elite, can no longer complete a simple pass of more than 15 yards, has become just another old athlete past his prime, what does that say about the rest of us?
This is Major Tom to Ground Control I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Brady stepped through the door of 2014 and has found himself in a world where his physical well being is protected by tuba players, untested rookies and Cap Space. He's left with nothing but Hobbits, Julian Edelman and a hobbled Rob Gronkowski to target. Forget last Monday night, Brady is still seeing stars from the wrecking-ball hit Justin Tuck delivered in New England's 16-9 win over Oakland.
Though I'm past 100,000 miles I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows
Dr. Phil could do two shows on this one. One-hundred thousand miles or 15 seasons, whichever comes first when it comes time to your engine or franchise quarterback breaking down.
This week, we've heard it all.
Brady's had it.
Brady's whipped. [we've heard that one for five years]
Brady's washed up.
Brady should be traded. Trade Brady? Sure, as soon as the entire offensive line is upgraded, every receiver but Edelman is either replaced or actually used , Gronkowski becomes fully healed, and the team finds a suitable substitute to replace LeGarrette Blount.
To paraphrase and flip the words of President Reagan: "Brady isn't the problem, he's the solution."
Yes, Tom, we know you love your wife, no matter what the National Enquirer says.
Ground Control to Major Tom Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Ground control in Planet Foxborough is run by Josh McDaniels, with oversight and direction by Coach/GM Bill Belichick.
Apollo 13 - the real thing not the movie - nearly ended in fatal catastrophe. Real-life flight director Gene Kranz never actually uttered the words "failure is not an option." They were given to actor Ed Harris in the movie. But Kranz never complained because the phrase neatly summed up NASA's attitude, especially during those perilous hours when real astronauts, not Tom Hanks and friends, were facing the real possibility of dying in space like Bowie's fictional Major Tom.
The motto for these modern-day Patriots remains: "Failure is not an option, as long as we stay within our pre-set dollar amounts for each position."
The first flight director in NASA history was named Chris Kraft. Unlike Bob and Jonathan, his primary focus was the success of the mission and the astronauts, and not the organization's bottom line. Both Chris Kraft and Kranz are still with us, fortunately. They are great Americans who have yet to receive their due in today's world of You Tube celebrities like this guy, fleeting hashtags and fake Facebook heroics.
"The Patriot Way" remains nothing more than a glamorous way of saying "winning on the Cheap." The Patriots and Belichick brought in a high-priced, big-name target for Brady exactly three times in 14 years. When Randy Moss showed up, the Patriots went 18.94-1, having the lead and a perfect 19-0 season within their grasp after taking the lead with 162 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLII. So it can work.
Lest we forget, Edelman, who may be the only reason for hope on offense until further notice, was a free-agent for 36 hours in March. Imagine, if you will, he was scooped up by the Jets or Cowboys and it all hinged on Danny Amendola and his fellow Keebler Elves? 8-8 would be a miracle.
The Patriots did lavish lucrative contracts upon Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski. Belichick ushered in what he thought would be a transformative two-tight end offensive set. This attempt to outsmart everyone else ended in many teams copying the Patriots, Hernandez in prison and Gronkowski nursing a series of seemingly unending injuries.
Crash and burn, so to speak.
Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
Planet Earth was very blue after Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. There was nothing Brady could do in either of those games as his defense faltered on its final stand against the Giants. Sadly, there's not much Brady can do about this team.
Brady has been horrible this season. His 198 passing yards per-game rank 15th out of 17 QBs in the AFC. His completion percentage of 59.1 is 14th. He's tied for 10th with four TD passes, sits 16th with 5.8 yards per pass attempt and posts a meager 79.1 passer rating, which is 14th.
Jimmy Garappolo can't do any worse, right? Yeah, good luck with that.
Even Brady at his best - see his final 10 games of last season for several examples - could not elevate this offense as it is currently constructed. This offensive live, this offensive play-calling, this selection of running backs and receivers, could not reach to Super Bowl-contender status with Joe Montana, Joe Namath or John Elway taking the snaps. Never mind Jumpin' Jimmy Garappolo.
Until there are marked changes in the Patriots' offensive personnel, schemes, calls and execution, Major Tom Brady will indeed remain lost in space.
And the Patriots chances for postseason success will remain grounded.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has written and reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com and was a sports/deputy sports editor at several metro daily newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address. Thanks always for reading.
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