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Perspective’s Place and Pull

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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The magic of the games we love is just how poignantly they frame what's around them.

Of all of the feelings sports can bring, perspective is without question the most powerful of all. While obvious and understood, we don't always hold tight to our priorities like we should as, through triumph and tribulation, competition can peel the proverbial foil right off of our hearts. Caught in the chase of winning and losing, we fight both reciprocation and reality in our constant pursuit of being seen on the box score's more favorable side. 

The magic of the games we love is just how poignantly they frame what's around them. On the playing field, a mere man can tower as a giant. So, on a spring afternoon, can a tiny grade-schooler battling brain cancer. There, a first pitch can bring smiles to our faces. With the world on edge, that same simple toss can bring tears to our eyes.  

At one of the nation's most cherished sporting events, the Boston Marathon, recent acts of terror stopped a nation in its tracks. Explosions near the finish line of the race unspeakably injured close to 200 people and killed three completely-innocent individuals. With two blasts, a cherished downtown area was shook into complete chaos. Runners and bystanders were battered and bloodied, with a wave of panic crashing through the streets.     

"It's almost like something you see in a movie scene," explained former New England Patriots running back Patrick Pass, a three-time Super Bowl champion in Foxboro, on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. "You hear the word 'bomb' and you don't think it can happen in real-life events. I was just getting off the plane yesterday from my trip home. I got the breaking news across my phone screen and automatically thought maybe a generator blew or something besides a bomb."

Like the rest of the country, Pass, a Peach State native and former SEC star with the Georgia Bulldogs, scrambled to gather information as best he could.

"It occurred to me that I had a few friends that were running in that marathon, former ex-football players that I played with in New England," he continued. "Tedy Bruschi had a team, Joe Andruzzi had a team. My thought process was just hoping that those guys were OK down there."

The events that unfolded throughout the day caused many, Pass included, to reflect on the region. Boston is a proud city, a strong city and a hub of great culture, history and tradition. Monday was "Patriot's Day" in town, a a civic holiday honoring the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The end of a special three-day weekend, the famed Boston Red Sox even oblige, usually first-pitching mid-morning.

"Those people there love their sports. They love their teams, their hockey, their baseball, the Patriots," Pass detailed. "Right where that bomb went off, that area is well-known for great Italian food and shopping malls. It's right in the middle of where everyone goes on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon, families go out to shop and eat. They just enjoy the scene because it's a special, historic city."

It's currently a city rattled, though poised to persevere. Thousands were heroic examples of that persistence after the attacks, pushing through fear and physical harm to do all they could to help a fallen neighbor. Those efforts were not just the best of a city and a country, but the best of humanity. It's a setting, in horrific circumstances, we've seen before. 

Monday brought those memories back. 

"I remember in 2001, getting ready to go to practice. I remember the news flash coming across the screen about the plane running into the World Trade Center," Pass recalled. "I wondered what possibly could have gone wrong with the plane for that to happen? The word 'terrorism' didn't even come to my mind at that time until I got to the facility. Coach Belichik called us into the room and he explained the situation. At that moment, it didn't really dawn on us until that second plane flew into the trade center. We realized something bad was happening that we could not comprehend."

In the aftermath of that unfathomable tragedy, Americans turned to each other for guidance. To a lesser extent, but important in their own rite, we turned to sports. We limped forward, using our favorite teams as a very real crutch aiding our recovery. 

"For the NFL to cancel the entire week of football for that weekend was something that I think we all needed. But, at the same time, I think having those games put a lot of people's minds at ease," Pass remembered of 2001. "I know that a lot of people use sports to get over a long day of stress and I think that is exactly what the Bostonians are going to do. I think they are going to use sports to try to get over the tragic events that happened."

The city of Boston was blindsided, knocked to the ground. As remarkably-resilient people get back to their feet, a nation waits with open arms. 

"We will get through this process and we will heal. My heart goes out to that eight year old boy who was there with his parents and just happened to fall victim to this cowardly act. I'm still in shock and in tears. We will bounce back and we will get back on top."

In times like these, a simple game, winning and losing, sure seems trite. By giving us all time to enjoy what really doesn't matter, however, sports can be a fitting reminder of exactly what does.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports