My website has been around for ten years (officially tomorrow – Feb. 5, 2002 was the original registration date) and it has seen four Super Bowls now. Back during Super Bowl 38, I devised a list of 38 Reasons why I love the Patriots, which I quickly updated the next year for our third Super Bowl run – a list that you can still find here. I started a “42″ list but never got around to finishing it. And when you-know-what happened, the half-finished draft sat in my WordPress queue for years. True story.
Now that the Patriots have finally returned to the Super Bowl, I felt it was time to really update the list… also considering most items from the “39″ list no longer apply. I present to you, my new and improved “46 Reasons Why I Love the New England Patriots.” And don’t laugh. I worked very hard on this list.
*****drum roll, please*****
46. Sterling Moore – This kid came off the Raiders scrap heap and he’s made a colossal impact in just a few weeks.
45. Former Patriots Running Back Larry Garron – I met the Patriots’ 1960s era fullback years ago when he came to the restaurant I was working at. A year of so later, he was at an autograph signing for former Patriots and he remembered me! It also doesn’t hurt that he was far and away one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
44. Former Patriots Linebacker Andre Tippett – watching this guy tackle makes me wish I wasn’t just a little, non-football-watching girl when he played for the Patriots. No one can tackle like this guy did. I think a lot of players from the modern era could learn a thing or two from Andre Tippett.
43. Mark Henderson – He’s the convict on work release who famously drove a snow plow out onto the field to clear a path for Patriots kicker John Smith during a Miami timeout in the infamous snowy game between the Patriots and Dolphins in 1982. My dad, who was at the game, recalls how shocked everyone in the stadium was when they saw Henderson drive out onto the field. It is a moment that will live in Patriots lore forever.
42. Former Patriots Tight End Ben Coates – Before there was The Gronk, there was Ben Coates.
41. Patriots Wide Receiver Tiquan Underwood’s hair – I mean, c’mon, it’s friggin awesome.
40. Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia – I have this old collector’s cup from the 1985 AFC Championship which has a picture of the team. Coach Scarnecchia is in that photo. He is truly forever a Patriot.
39. Super Bowl 39 – Rodney Harrison was, by far, the MVP of this game (sorry, Deion), but either way, after receiving death threats from Philly fans, I don’t think I could have been happier that the Patriots won this one.
38. Super Bowl 38 – People may forget, but until the Super-Bowl-Which-Shall-Never-Be-Discussed, this was one of the hardest games for me, as a Patriots fan, to ever watch. Of course, the game’s result makes one forget about that. This game is a classic example of my dad’s famous saying, “Watching the games is not the fun part; it’s the victory celebration after that makes them fun.”
37. The “Tuck Rule” – this rule, which the NFL has NOT changed and has even used in other instances, kept the 2001 Patriots’ season alive against the Oakland Raiders. It was the beginning of a legend.
36. Russ Francis – Alas, another player that was on the Patriots when I was just a wee lass who was more interested in Barbie Dolls and Legos to pay attention to football. I did meet him at at charity basketball game I was covering for a local newspaper and he signed my dad’s throwback helmet with “Aloha”. That made my dad’s day.
35. Former Patriots Running Back Mosi Tatupu – I met Mosi at that same basketball game. My dad told him how proud he was of his son, Lofa, and Mosi’s eyes welled up. They totally shared a moment.
34. The End Zone Militia – They’re still as awesome as ever.
33. The MUCH improved line of Patriots clothes for women – When I started watching football as a teenager in the 90s, women’s apparel was non-existent. I used to buy small jerseys and sweatshirts as a way of showcasing my pride. Then the 2000s hit and a different wave of offerings became available… all pink. Yuck! Thankfully, as the female fanbase has grown, pink items have started to subside.
32. The Underdog Mentality – The Patriots were the ultimate underdog for years but, like all perennial contenders, as much as they try to convince themselves they are still underdogs, reality takes over and it’s too hard to maintain. BUT, the Underdogs are back! Patriots stars like Wes Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis lead a group of 18 undrafted free agents on the 2011 Patriots roster. Undrafted FA Sterling Moore made, perhaps, the most important play of the entire year when he knocked free a Joe Flacco pass to Lee Evans late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship. It doesn’t get more underdog than that!
31. Former Patriots Linebacker Steve Nelson – I met Steve in 2002 at an event at “Football 101 for Women” at Gillette Stadium (sidenote: How come the Patriots don’t have this event anymore?! It was awesome!). My favorite moment was when some of the attendees were allowed to ask questions and one bimbo approached the microphone and asked, “When do we get to meet the players?” The emcee replied, “They’re right there,” signaling to Steve Nelson and former QB Steve Grogan. Grogan and Nelson looked at each other and rolled their eyes. It was hilarious. I was in love.
30. Former Patriots Quarterback Steve Grogan – My first favorite QB when my dad taught me to tell people I loved him when I was six. I remember my dad defending Grogan’s honor for weeks after Super Bowl 20. My dad is still convinced that had Berry started Grogan over Eason in that game, the outcome might have been a little bit closer.
29. Brandon Spikes’ pink suit – ‘Nuf said.
28.”Squish the Fish” – since I’m reminiscing… “Squish the Fish” was 80s marketing shtick at its finest. This slogan was introduced to support the Patriots’ in the AFC Championship against the Miami Dolphins in 1985. Up to that point, Don Shula’s Dolphins had been the team the Patriots always had a hard time with.
27. Former Patriots Linebacker Tedy Bruschi – It would be criminal if I didn’t include Bruschi on this list. He was one of the architects of the “Patriots Way”. It’s kind of weird to think he’s been retired for a few years now.
26. Patriots Punter Zoltan Mesko – My boss is Romanian so she has a special fondness for Mesko. I like him because he’s brilliant and a pretty darn good punter. He has singlehandedly kept the Patriots in games with his leg, helping the Patriots win field position battles in tight games.
25. Adam Viniateri – He became a friggin Colt but I guess I need to remember the happier times when he was driving field goals through the uprights in driving snow or making high-pressure, last second kicks in Super Bowls.
24. Bill Belichick’s grey hoodie – I don’t know what he washes this wonder of modern male fashion with, but whatever he is doing, I hope he doesn’t stop. That’s one lucky sweatshirt and it looks good, I don’t care what anyone says. When a coach wins as much as Belichick, does it really matter what he’s wearing anyway? So long as it’s not red!
23. A Decade of Greatness – You know, before Tom Brady and Belichick, the Patriots had NEVER, in the entire history of the Patriots, had a season with 12 or more wins? Since 2001, they’ve had six. They’ve also compiled three NFL titles, five AFC conference titles, eight AFC east titles, and haven’t had a single losing season. Included in that was a single regular season where they didn’t lose one single game.
22. Twitter – A funny thing happened since the last time the Patriots were in the Super Bowl. This new thing called, “Twitter,” was created, allowing users to write brief blurbs. Then a bunch of cellphone apps were invented to make it even easier to write blurbs. Then a bunch of celebrities started using it. Then a bunch of football players. Now, I’m able to read the quick thoughts of my favorite players. I can even reply and, on occasion, get a response back.
21. 21-game winning streak There’s no worse feeling that enduring a week of misery after your football team loses. Thankfully, the Patriots gave me a full fucking year of not having to suffer that when they won 21 games in a row from October 2003 through October 2004.
20. The Patriots-Jets Rivalry – As a kid, if my dad came home after a Patriots’ loss to the Jets, he was in a much worse mood than a regular loss. This rivalry dates back as long as the two teams have been around but it has ramped up in the last 15 or so years and hasn’t slowed down. When Bill Parcells left the Patriots to coach the Jets, the rivalry began for a new generation (myself included). When Curtis Martin left, I thought my dad’s head would explode. The next jab came from the Patriots when they convinced Belichick to leave the Jets and be our head coach (thank GOD). The rivalry settled down a bit during the Herm Edwards years but when Eric Mangini took over the Jets, a whole new level of rivalry powered up after Mangini ratted out Belichick in the now famous “Spygate.” Nowadays, HC Rex Ryan makes it fun to hate the Jets, with his never-ending boasting. The media might like to think that the Patriots’ biggest rivals are the Colts or the Steelers, and maybe for this era, they’re right. But as far as timeless rivalries go, it’s all Patriots-Jets.
19. The Flying Elvis – I love the Patriots’ logo.
18. The Wes Welker Trade – Thanks, Miami! How did they let this guy go?!
17. Former Patriots Wide Receiver Darryl Stingley – My dad vividly remembers that preseason game when Jack Tatum injured Stingley, leaving him a quadriplegic. He handled his injury with grace and dignity.
16. 16-0 regular season – OK, I do remember what happened at the end but you can’t deny that not losing a single game in the regular season does not qualify for an unmatched level of greatness. It has never been done before.
15. Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez – This kid was the youngest in the 2010 NFL draft class, and he made some mistakes – which was all the better for us because the Patriots were able to draft him later in the draft!
14. Former Patriots Wide Receiver Troy Brown – What’s not to love about Troy? I loved Troy since he backed up Terry Glenn and whenever Glenn would have a hang nail or some other stupid injury, Troy would come in there and do whatever it took. Plus, he’s now my favorite radio analyst. I wish they would give him a show.
13. The Snow Game – The 2001 AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders; this game lives in Patriots lore. I remember it vividly, too – it didn’t start snowing until an hour before the game and it stopped snowing almost immediately after the game.
12. The Hall at Patriot Place – Thank you, Robert Kraft, for giving us Patriots fans such a cool place to go. The Hall encapsulates the legacy of the Patriots, not forgetting the road that leads to where we are now.
11. Drew Bledsoe – Drew is my first love. I got into many battles with my peers over Drew Bledsoe. He was such a class act and even the way he handled losing his job to Tom Brady makes me admire him even more. I’m so glad he was able to play an important role in the 2001 AFC Championship and I think he had a lot to do with Tom Brady’s development that year. Never underestimate that.
10. Super Bowl 36 – It’s been exactly ten years and the final seconds of this game still rank as the single greatest moment of my life. I still cry tears of joy all these years later. Nothing will ever compare to that game.
9. The new generation of fans – One thing I always hated about trying to talk football around here was how many people knew little about the Patriots and football. As much as I hate Pittsburgh Steelers fans, at least they know what they’re talking about. Fans at Gillette didn’t know when to make noise. It’s all starting to change now. Ten years of winning has bred a new kind of fan. People are starting to become knowledgeable about the sport. You figure, there’s going to be folks going to bars on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl that were in elementary school when the Patriots first won the Super Bowl. Wow. There’s still a lot of gross fairweather fans around but I’ve learned to appreciate them because without them, there’s no motivation to keep a team competitive. But the group of real fans continues to grow.
8. The 2011 Unheralded Heroes – say what you will about the 2011 Patriots, but this is a motley crew of guys who stepped in and played above and beyond what they were supposed to. Ross Ventrone, for example, was waived and resigned so often, it became a running joke. Mass native James Ihedigbo came to the Patriots as a special teamer and has started games. He gets hurt and comes right back in. Julian Edelman playing defense, BenJarvus Green-Ellis playing hurt, Brian Waters stepping in off the street having a pro bowl season…. I love them all.
7. The Gronk – I knew I would love Gronk when, after being drafted by the Patriots, he jumped all over the stage with a Patriots helmet on. I love how he drags defenders. I love how he is so enthusiast. I love how he says things like, “Yo soy fiesta,” and always has a smile on his face. Gronk has probably become my favorite, Non-Tom Brady player.
6. Rodney Harrison – Rodney was (and still is) one of my favorite Patriots ever. I cried when it was revealed that his season-ending injury would end his career. I still get sad when I see the image of him leaving the field on the golf cart. I will love him forever.
5. Vince Wilfork – I remember watching the 2004 draft. I had to go to work that night and the Patriots, having won the Super Bowl, were the final pick. It took FOREVER for their turn to come. I sat on my couch, in my work uniform, with car keys in hand risking going to work late just to see who the Patriots would draft. When Vince was announced, I will never forget what my dad said. “Welcome to New England. What’s your ring size?” Oh, my dad. Vince didn’t have to wait long.
4. The “MHK” Patch – Myra Kraft was a wonderful person. Not that I knew her personally but I work for people who did and they cannot stress enough how amazing she was. What has been expressed to me by these people makes me realize it shouldn’t be surprising that the team has dedicated its season to her. The things she did for the community transcend football.
3. Bill Belichick – You might not believe this but back in the day, right after Pete Carroll was fired, I remember talking to a friend of mine who said if the Patriots hired Bill Belichick – or “Belichicken, as he called him – he was going to stop watching the Patriots. He thought the Patriots should hire Marty Schottenheimer. True story. I don’t know what happened to that friend and I don’t know if he kept his promise to stop watching the Patriots. All I know is, if he has half a brain in his head, he’ll realize how wrong he was. I’m also assuming he will never admit that he felt that way and probably has convinced himself that he never said that, too.
2. Robert Kraft – What the Patriots have done since Kraft bought the team (Six AFC titles, new stadium, etc) is the perfect example of the importance of having an owner who is a fan first.
1. Tom Brady – I don’t remember the exact moment in that 2001 season when I realized Tom Brady was going to be our starting quarterback. I don’t remember when I noticed his greatness. You must remember, Drew was our guy. Maybe it was when the Patriots made their playoff push or when they defeated Oakland in the playoffs. All I know is, by the time the clock was at .00 in Super Bowl 36, I was sold, forever.
Tom Brady is, by and far, the greatest quarterback of our time. I’m not going to list stats or get into a debate of his greatness. And now that we’re entering the later portion of his career, I am trying to fully appreciate every second that we have him and, I’m not going to lie, he is so amazing, it’s overwhelming when you take it all in.
I used to always laugh at how devoted Packers fans were to Brett Favre. He’s just another guy, I thought. But now that I’m in those same shoes with Tom, I will never again laugh. It’s going to be a very sad day when Tom retires. I’m probably going to cry. But I am also going to be more than grateful for what he’s done for my team. And I will, most definitely, drive to Canton, Ohio when he’s inevitably inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As Patriots fans, we are so truly blessed to have Tom Brady as our quarterback. Don’t ever forget that.