The Cold, Hard Football Facts were conceived several years ago at 500 Boylston Street in Boston, exactly one block from the scene of the first bombing at the Marathon on Monday.
It was one of those days when you count your blessings more than others.
To understand the chaos these attacks caused, it pays provide a little overview of Patriots Day for those of you not from Boston:
It’s a state holiday in Massachusetts and in Maine, which was part of Massachusetts until 1820.
There are re-enactments of Revolutionary War events all over the region for several days, including the Battles of Lexington (soon after sunrise each Patriots Day) and later in Concord, pivotal events in history which took place just outside Boston on April 19, 1775.
We attended the annual lantern lighting ceremony at the Old North Church Sunday night in Boston’s North End.
You know the story: “one if by land, two if by sea.” Two lanterns hung in the steeple warned Paul Revere and others across the bay in Charlestown that the British were leaving Boston by sea to chase down John Adams, John Hancock and a cache of colonial arms in Concord.
They were the beacons that quite literally set in motion one of the most far-reaching human events since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
There was an invocation. Readings. Patriotic music by a fife & drum corps. The first floor of the famed Old North Church is still lit only by candles. A stirring way to celebrate Patriots Day weekend.
The streets of Boston are filled all Patriots Day weekend with visitors from around the world: tourists, runners, and folks dressed in Colonial clothes, marching in one parade or another or just walking the streets soaking in the scene.
It's no coincidence terrorists attacked on the day that mixes patriotism and sports unlike any other.
The Red Sox play a home game at 11 a.m. each Patriots Day. I believe it's the only Major League Baseball game that begins in the morning. The Boston Marathon passes a block from Fenway Park. In fact, Patriots Day is often just called Marathon Monday. The city is electric.
The sidewalks are packed 10 deep along race route, and some 200,000 college kids party. The Marathon races through the heart of America’s greatest university town, right past Wellesley College, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and other schools.
Bars and restaurants are packed. Bands play out on the street. It’s one of biggest, most festive civic celebrations in America. And we do it all on what is usually a nippy 45-degree day in April, like it was today.
So that’s the celebratory scene the bomber or bombers hit today with a pair of explosions on Boylston Street, right near the marathon finish line, across the street from the Boston Public Library – the oldest public library in America.
I was invited to a number of parties on Boylston Street, the marathon's final stretch; one was hosted by friends from a public relations firm; another was hosted by former Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi, who runs a foundation to fight cancer.
The buildings housing both parties were hit, one by each explosion.
Andruzzi, in fact, was photographed carrying an injured woman to safety. His three brothers, by the way, were all New York City firefighters on 9-11, including one who survived the crash of the South Tower. That family has been through some heavy shit.
A friend works with Andruzzi and was at the party today.
“It was some of the most graphic images I’ve ever witnessed,” he said.
I understand everyone at the first party is OK. They raced down the back fire escape to the alleyway behind the building.
I was supposed to be right there on the spot of both explosions today.
Instead, I stayed at the office, compiling 10-year draft data for each NFL team, one of the most mundane tasks in our annual calendar.
Turns out it was my lucky day.
Otherwise, pretty fucking depressing. At least three people are dead, including an 8-year-old; more than 100 are wounded. I've been in Boston my whole life. I must know some of them. Prayers for all of them and their families.
On top of that, there's the chance that terrorists may have changed forever the most festive and patriotic day on the calendar here in the Cradle of Liberty.
But let's hope not.
Bostonians kicked the shit out of the mightiest army on the planet 238 years ago. We can stand up to a few terrorists, too.