I overheard my dad crying this morning but don’t worry, he was watching NFL Network so I’m pretty sure those were tears of joy.
Sunday’s Patriots game at Dallas was the first game since the AFC Championship that I felt that surge of emotions. “Uh-oh, Dallas has the lead!” “Oh crap, Dallas is zooming down the field!” “Shit fuck shit, Dallas scored on a Brady fumble!”
I think one has officially entered the realm of “cocky” when you actually relish a game in which your team is challenged.
And just like that, I’ve reached a crossroads in my life as a Patriots fan. Gone are the days when I have to defend my team on Monday mornings. And if you aren’t in the area, don’t be fooled by the legions of Patriots fans – just seven short years ago most of them thought they sucked. The team was slowly rebuilding after Hurricane Bobby Grier who brought in the likes of the “original” Chris Canty, we were all trying to make sense of the Pete Carroll era (he was too nice to hate!), and still trying to figure out if the team had made the right choice in going with Belichick over Marty Schottenheimer. And then, out of nowhere comes this kid named Tom Brady who only a season before had backed up Drew Bledsoe, Michael “New England’s Answer to Kordell Stewart” Bishop, and John “Who The Hell is That Guy?!” Friesz. With the rash of QB injuries around the league, I’m sure a lot of fans have experienced what I felt the day Drew Bledsoe went down… “My God, our season is over!” Hindsight is 20/20.
Now, I’m going to tell you guys something that I have never before told a soul… I am the reason the Patriots won Super Bowl 36. You see, the night before the regular season showdown between the Rams and the Patriots, I was outside watching the Leonid Meteor Shower. When I saw my first shooting star I made a wish, “I wish that the Patriots would beat the Rams.” (Yes, instead of wishing for things like world peace or a million dollars, I wish for Patriots regular season victories. That’s just the kind of girl I am.) I didn’t get my wish the next day and I was pissed as my wishes on shooting stars are usually granted. Little did I know at the time, my wish was to be granted months later and in the Super Bowl no less!
But back to my point – since then, I’ve slowly seen the tides turning. Each year the Patriots got a little better but were always second to the Indianapolis Colts, no matter how many times they had beat them or how many Super Bowl trophies they accrued. Soon, the Patriots were even getting some news coverage over the, get this, Boston Red Sox.
Then the Patriots did something remarkable – they signed guys like Randy Moss. Now, the evolution was complete. And since I am a modern kinda girl with the internet, able to glance at the thoughts, comments and judgments of the entire NFL fanbase, I noticed something unsettling, disturbing even. The Patriots were no longer considered the underdog, they were THE dog.
This pains me to no end… in the eyes of NFL Nation, they had become the NFL equivalent to the *gasp* New *tear* York *waaaah* Yankees *falls on floor*. Each day my site, yes this one, is receiving more and more hits from Google for the phrase, “Patriots Suck” (and I’m pretty sure they’re not searching for dirt on Paul Revere). WHAT’S WORSE, I’m finding myself repeating old Yankees fan expressions like “they’re just jealous.” Has the WHOLE WORLD GONE MAD?! I don’t know who I am anymore! WHAT’S EVEN WORSE, if you can believe that there would be something worse, is that I’m witnessing supposed Patriots “fans” on sports message boards taunting other NFL fans just like the Yankees fans of old would do to us. Have they forgotten so soon?! Oh God, it has come to this.
But after Sunday’s victory at Dallas, I decided to make a pact with myself and, in a sense, I’m going to think like a Patriot. I’m going to ignore the negative comments. I’m going to brush off the “Belicheats” comments and the “Black Mark” (‘cuz that’s how we Easterners say it) comments and I’m just going to enjoy the special season that my team is having. I’m no longer going to internalize the mean-spirited comments of NFL nation. So, if that means I’m cocky, so be it. I’m a cocky fan because my team is one of the best damn teams ever and I just can’t contain it anymore. I’m not going to be humble and I’m not going to go as far as guarantee a flawless Super Bowl season. But I’m going to enjoy each game like it was their last and I’m not going to feel any shame in doing so. My dad suffered through losing seasons for this! He endured Tony EASON for crying out loud! GOSH DARNIT! I LOVE MY PATRIOTS AND YOU CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME!
Phew, Deep Cleansing Breaths… that felt good. Real good.