Damn You Deflate-gate!
A Pat the Patriot Fan
I am a Bostonian. I grew up in Massachusetts. I am a Pat the Patriot fan. By this I mean that the majority of my life I have watched the Patriots lose. Still, at this point in my life I saw more losing Patriots seasons than winning ones. I was raised wearing Pat the Patriot shirts. I watched last week's AFC Championship wearing a signed Ben Coates hat from the early 1990s. I was at Sullivan Stadium on numerous occasions, going on home with a heavy heart after another loss to Marino's Dolphins or, even worse, the Jets. Season after season, we hoped, we cheered and we lost. We continued to watch and loyalty grew, as it easily does in this city, and our family bonded, as did so many others, around Sunday's Pat's games. New England is an area rich in history, with deep roots and people who are loyal to a fault. We live and die with our teams. Other cities I have been to and lived in enjoy their teams, but there truly is nothing like a Boston fan. It is a mantra that has been repeated by many sports players who have played in this city.
In 1994, Robert Kraft purchased the team and saved it from a rumored move to St. Louis. Thankful that my family would still get to have a home team, we hoped this would be the chance to have a winning season. We hoped, we waited. We went to a Super Bowl with Parcels and Bledsoe in 1997. We lost, but were happy to say we had made it there.
Then an unthinkable season, that couldn't have been written better by Hans Christain Anderson happened. Our lovable quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, was drilled during a game and this young, goofy looking kid comes out on the field. Our first thought was, "Our season is over!" Our knight who had courageously led us to the Super Bowl 4 years earlier was hurt. We are screwed! However, through dink-and-dunk passes, a true teammate in Bledsoe and our new coach, we made it to the Super Bowl. I had just had my daughter the year before. She was given a Bledsoe jersey in the hospital and wore it every game day. The season we went to the Super Bowl with Brady/ Belichick the first time, we live 2 miles from the stadium. The feeling was electric! We saw players regularly at the bank, at the gym... Lawyer Milloy had held my daughter once and recognized us around the neighborhood. To really appreciate the wins, you had to have lived through the pain of being a Pats fan prior to 2001. When we won in 2002, it was absolutely surreal! I think we were on cloud nine for the next 10 years. The kids of my daughter's generation don't know what it is like to cheer for a losing team. I also believe that people around the country forget how bad we were for most of our history. So after 3 Super Bowl wins and in light of numerous scandals - Spygate, Hernandez and, now, Deflate-gate - where does this leave us?
Another Scandal... Now What?
Deflate-gate is not only deflating balls, it is deflating our pride and feelings. Yes, I am a football fan and I said feelings. I am also a woman. In addition, I am a proud fan of the New Enlgand Patriots. I have forgiven them for spygate. I am pleased with the way the handled the Aaron Hernandez scandal by immediately dismissing him and taking back all Hernandez jerseys and giving fans a new one of their choice. So now we have deflate-gate on the heels of Brady's possible last Super Bowl appearance of his career and after a season where the media and people around the country counted us out in week 2. I want this Super Bowl win, as a fan, almost as much as I did the first one. I want Brady to go out on the top of his game. I want to say, "F*#% You!" to the haters who said we were done 4 months ago.
The world wants to hate New England. We have been successful for too long. Our QB has a supermodel wife and has had a Hall of Fame career with 6 AFC Championships, 3 Superbowls and 10 ProBowls, and that's only if he retires today. Our coach has won 5 Superbowls and NFL Coach of the Year three times. The closer you are to the top, the less friends you have. Our society loves to build people up to tear them down. People are looking for us to screw up. And we may have this time, or at least it's looking pretty damn close.
Pointing fingers at the Colts won't help. Saying, "Everyone does it," won't change anything. We are the evil empire that people love to hate.
So how do we handle this the right way? How does a team that still wants a shot at a Super Bowl win and fans who want to see them win handle this? If deflate-gate is true, we take the punishment and move on. It's like the spanking you knew your dad was going to give you - you see it coming, you brace yourself, take it, then get up and move on. We have no other choice for this team to have any shot of winning on February 1st. We are a damn good football team. We don't need tricks to win. Once the spanking comes from Goodell, we say thank you, give the league our Super Bowl balls and turn our talk to stratergies on how to beat the Seattle Seahawks. The Patriots are doing that now. You can bet your house on the fact that Belichick, Brady and crew are only talking Seattle and we, as fans, need to do just that. No more turning on the radio or TV to listen to deflate-gate garbage. It would be fabulous if the media, at least in Boston, would shut up about it too. What's done is done. We can be angry, hurt, disappointed... but our talk needs to be on how to win the upcoming game. It is a deterrent to the team we cheer for and love, and it ruins our chance to revel in another Super Bowl birth. If you are a true Patriots fan, you will join me in only talking about Seattle because for all the things our team does wrong, that is one thing they have always done right. Belichick's Patriots, as faulty as they may have been at times, live in the moment. They don't dwell on past mistakes or loses. We surely wouldn't be here today if the team listened to the media and talking heads in September. They don't look to next season and when Brady may retire. As Bill so eloquently said on Sunday, "We're on to Seattle!" And if you're a true Patriots or football fan, you should be too.