When I Became a Fan
The biggest question a sports fan gets asked is why are you a fan of your favorite team. Or at least this should be. Sports fans usually have favorite teams in all the major professional sports and college, and for some there is European Soccer. But who is your favorite team? The team that if they were in the Playoffs your life stops? The team who every time this is the slightest alteration in a hat or jersey, you are at your favorite sporting goods store to buy it. That is what we are asking and telling you, our favorite teams and the answers may surprise you.
This is the 2nd post of the series to read George Brew’s click here.
In New York, I always get asked the same question whenever I walk around in a Tom Brady jersey or a Bill Belichick hoodie. How in the world are you a Patriots’ fan living in New York City? It is so tough to fathom that someone can root for a New England team, especially in the last few years when the Patriots-Jets rivalry has reached a boiling point in the New York City area? Thanks Rex Ryan!
It all started when I was two years old, which is about 1994. My father was a Jets’ fan and my mother was a Giants’ fan, so it was tough to really root for a football team in general. Most Sundays, I would go to my uncle’s house to watch football since he had the NFL Sunday Ticket package. The first game that I was watching was a New England Patriots’ game with Drew Bledsoe as the quarterback. Today, my parents tell me that after the occasional mom and dad first words, the next one was Bled-Soe.
Although the team did make the Super Bowl in 1997, there is only one game that stands out to me when I reflect back on the Bledsoe years. I go back to a game up in Foxboro Stadium on November 29th, 1998 against the Buffalo Bills (Sorry, Brian Sanborn). The Patriots and Bills played a close game the whole way! With Buffalo leading 21-17 in the 4th quarter, Bledsoe takes the Pats down the field and sets up one last play, a hail mary into the end zone. But, wait, Buffalo gets called for pass interference to set up an untimed play from the one yard line. The next play, Bledsoe hits tight end Ben Coates for a 1-yard TD to win the game 25-21!
Then came the Tom Brady years! When Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001, it was a matter of shock for me as a Pats’ fan. I was only eight years old and I did not know what to do next since Drew was the only QB I knew. I would wear my Bledsoe jersey every Sunday wherever I went because I used to think that would bring the team good luck. So, the minute Brady was picked as the quarterback, I had to get my hands on a Brady jersey. Later that year, my grandparents gave me one as a Christmas gift.
When people ask me what I remember most as a Patriot fan, it has to be the first time they win the championship. I tell other fan bases that no matter how many championships your team wins, you will always remember the first one that you saw. That January, my little brother had just been born and he is a Brady fan to this day. He came home the night of the Oakland Raider game and I had to handle my frustrations without waking him up, particularly during the supposed fumble to end the game. I went from being in sadness to being in jubilation during a two minute span.
Then, you skip ahead to the Super Bowl. All around my school, I was saying the Patriots would pull the upset over the Rams, but I did not recognize the historical significance until today. When Adam Vinatieri made the game winning field goal, I ran around my house screaming for five minutes and then went on to brag all over school the next day.
During Super Bowl 38, I was in Washington D.C for a Junior Young Leaders’ conference in Maryland. That Sunday was casual night, so the people were allowed to wear whatever they want. So, I brought out my Brady jersey and wore it for every meeting which took place during the 1st half of the game. Luckily, I did not miss much scoring. I missed the halftime show during the social as well. After the night meetings, I got back to my room just in time for the last four minutes of the game. When Vinatieri hit that field goal, I did more screaming in a happy fashion. My roommates told me to shut up, but I was like “No way guys, the PATRIOTS JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL AGAIN!!!!”
Now, we move the timeline back to the historic season of 2007. When I used to write for the CBS Sports message board, I wrote a thread after their Week 3 win against the Bills saying that New England would finish the regular season undefeated. I just had a good feeling about the team and how dynamic and explosive they were offensively. I got ripped for it, but I got the last laugh.
For Christmas, I got tickets to go the 16-0 game at Giants Stadium. I had gone to past Patriots-Jets games at Giants Stadium, but this one sticks out in my mind in terms of an at-the-game experience. The seats were upper deck, but in the end zone where Tom Brady and Randy Moss set the passing touchdown and receiving touchdown records in the single season. To share that moment with Patriot fans and chant “UN-DE-FEAT-ED” with the Patriot faithful is a moment to remember forever, even though that Super Bowl loss just had to happen two months later.
I would consider myself the most displaced Patriot fan in the tri-state area at least. I have never made a trip out to Foxboro/Gillette Stadium to see my team play a home game, but the chance to see them play in New York is something I have taken advantage of over the past decade. When I have kids, I will get to tell them I saw the great Tom Brady at quarterback and one of the greatest head coaches of all-time in Bill Belichick. I live in New York and people always accuse me of being a bandwagon fan because they started winning. That false statement makes me mad more than most statements because if you know me or read this, you would know that is inaccurate.
The thrill of being a Patriot fan just gets even better when you get the chance to write about the team you love. I have been on FoxboroBlog.com since September of last year and to get a chance to write previews for every game is an experience in itself! I can say that no matter what, I am proud to be a Patriot fan!