My son is just beginning to understand what happens on Sunday afternoons at our house.From about 1 pm to 7:30 pm, the day is spent clogging arteries on the couch in between bathroom and occasional honey-do breaks. (That’s not to say that the day isn’t entirely unproductive; before kickoff we’re up and at it doing stuff that needs to be done for a guilt-free afternoon.) We’re a Patriots family. We’ve got the gear, and we wear it proudly. Our enthusiasm is backed up by the fact that we live in New England. Everywhere we go, we’re presented with Patriots gear reinforcing our fandom. Our son sees the Patriots all around him, and sees us rooting for them. My best guess is that he will end up a Pats fan. Now, of course, he can root for any team he wants, but it makes me think about what made me a Pats fan. I didn’t grow up in New England. I grew up in Upstate NY, so being a Patriots fan is okay with the proximity to New England, but that’s not the reason I’m a fan. It all started in 1985 when the Patriots were headed to the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears. That year the Bears were unstoppable with a 15-1 regular season record and a roster full of future hall of fame guys like Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, and William “The Refrigerator” Perry. These guys were marketing gold. They were willing to do anything for publicity. Remember, this was the 80’s, and nothing was off limits. They even made a wildly popular and very bad rap video. The Bears were being gigantic clowns all over the media, but they were huge favorites to beat the Patriots. All of the bravado and media golden boy stuff pissed me off. I was old enough to know that the Patriots had to be a good team to get to the Super Bowl, but all anyone talked about was the Bears and how the Patriots didn’t have a chance. The Patriots, on the other hand, were humble, understated, and had great players that nobody was talking about like Tony Eason, Mosi Tatupu, Irving Fryar, and Andre Tippett. I fell in love with the underdogs, and was hoping the Patriots would pull out a huge upset to shut up the loudmouths. That didn’t happen. They were utterly dominated in a 46-10 trouncing. I've been a die-hard Patriots fan ever since. So, when it comes time for my son to choose the team he wants to root for, I think it would be great if he becomes a Patriots fan. But he doesn't need to be one by default. In fact, it might be great if he picks another team. I’m going to talk to him about what it means to create a connection with a team that’s deeper than geography. I just don't want him to settle on a team because it’s the easiest choice. It's one more thing to look forward to: epic father-son smack-talk sessions (especially if he picks another AFC team.) Just please, not the Jets.
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