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5 years ago|208 views

[Newsa] Reche Caldwell Still 'Haunted' By Drop In 2006 AFC Championship Game

C Realtime
By Michael Hurley , CBS Boston BOSTON (CBS) — Despite the opinion of many people from outside the region, Bostonians and New Englanders in general are typically mild-mannered and occasionally they’re even downright friendly. That is … until you mention the name Reche Caldwell. In the rich, 100-plus-year history of professional sports in Boston, there’s perhaps no man more random who is more widely known and remembered than Caldwell, the receiver known only for his dropped passes in the 2006 AFC Championship Game and the bug-eyed look that followed. Though nearly a decade has passed, it’s something that has always stayed with Reche, according to his brother, Andre. “He heard all the jokes and criticisms, and it broke his heart,” Andre Caldwell told ESPN in a larger feature about Reche’s life . “The way the game kicked him to the curb like an unwanted stepchild hurt him mentally and haunted him. Reche got a little bit of a selfish attitude out of it, like, ‘Forget everybody else, I’m gonna start worrying about me.'” In the story — which focuses on how Reche ended up in a minimum security prison –Caldwell spoke about some of the grief he took after failing to make the plays. According to Caldwell, an FBI agent interrogating him once confronted him on the totally non-criminal offense: “‘You’re that guy who cost Tommy anudda Soupa Bowl,'” Caldwell imitated for ESPN. “What else can I do? It’s not like I was trying to drop those passes.” It is, to a great extent, an unfair fate. While yes, it’s true that had Caldwell caught either of the catchable passes thrown his way in that fateful game in Indianapolis in January 2007, it would have gone a long way to punching the Patriots’ ticket to a Super Bowl, where they would have absolutely steamrolled Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears. But, what has gotten so lost in the scapegoating of Caldwell or even the blaming of Bill Belichick for jettisoning Deion Branch over a contract dispute, is the fact that the Patriots scored 34 points that night. Thirty-four points is enough to win a football game. Fact is, the defense cost the Patriots that Super Bowl much more than Caldwell could have. It was the defense that got comfortable after the Patriots opened up a 21-3 lead and held a 21-6 advantage at halftime. It was the defense that allowed Dallas Clark to account for an absurd 137 of Peyton Manning’s 349 passing yards. And it was the defense that was given a three-point lead with less than four minutes left, yet allowed Manning to slice through them like a hot knife through butter on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that looked much too easy. Would Caldwell’s catches have helped? Sure. But the drop midway through the fourth quarter was not a guaranteed touchdown , and that drive did end with a Patriots field goal. The dropped touchdown would have been nice, but it’s not as if he was wide open on that one. And, if memory serves, the Patriots scored a touchdown on the very next play that followed. So there was no harm, no foul with that one; it’s just gotten lumped with the more obvious drop in the open field. There’s no need to praise Caldwell’s performance, but for one, he performed about to the level at which one would rightfully expect him to play. Secondly, and more importantly, he’s always received much too much of the blame pie for that loss. In any event, the fallout from that game follow Caldwell to this day, as evidenced by the story, which is fascinating. Here’s a quick sampling. A quote from Caldwell’s mother: “Good lord that boy was a bad criminal, and thank Jesus for that.” A quote from Caldwell’s lawyer: “He had been caught red-handed, and by that I mean the drugs were literally found, by police, in the hands of my client, who was also tracking them on his phone.” And a quote from Caldwell himself: “I’m not gonna blame football or concussions like everybody else for my mistakes. I don’t blame my education or my hometown or my family. I have a great family. I had a great childhood. I grew up in a great place. This is about losing my way, being around bad people and making bad choices, and that’s all on me.” OK, plus this one additional quote from Caldwell, from the time his gambling operation got busted with flash grenades and a SWAT team: “Damn, man, you blasted the door with a tank? Why didn’t ya just knock? I woulda let y’all in.” The full story on the man behind the drops is well worth the full read, so check it out at ESPN . And while you’re at it, maybe disperse some of your blame onto Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, James Sanders, Artrell Hawkins, Chad Scott, Rashad Baker, Eric Alexander and somebody named Ray Mickens who was apparently playing for the Patriots that night. You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley .
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