New England Patriots logo, from NFL.com
New England Patriots logo, from NFL.com

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper, 1/2007

After weeks of almost spring-like conditions, winter had returned with a vengeance, and most of us were already used to the change to more seasonal weather.

But the morning of Monday January 22 felt particularly bitter. Yes, it was another winter Monday with grey skies and unforgiving cold, but this was different.

The commuter station was so quiet — the train even more so. It seemed everyone was feeling the same let-down, the same disappointment.

The week before, we knew that the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Colts would be a great show no matter what — two strong teams, and a competition that’s starting to rival Red Sox/Yankees (without the seething animosity, and more of a mutual respectful admiration).

And for so long during the game, it almost felt like a lock, didn’t it? The Patriots’ slot in the Super Bowl felt like a sure thing, and then in a few whirlwind moments, the confetti was flying, a team was celebrating …

But it wasn’t the Patriots.

A tough outcome, to be sure. There is a genuine feeling of loss in the air — we were all looking so forward to Miami — it felt like a certainty. More than one person said to me, “What are we supposed to do for the next two weeks?”

Well, I’d say we should be thankful for another memorable, winning season. Our Patriots have once again given all of us — especially here in Foxboro — a reason to celebrate winter. And unlike the Red Sox, who regularly disappointed until the miracle of 2004 — and are now disappointing again, the Patriots just keep playing hard and doing their best.

Coming into the playoff, New England has won five straight games and has been victorious in eight of its last nine contests. Not to mention the three, count them, three Super Bowl trophies in five years.

Throughout their amazing 2006-2007 winning season, up to the heartbreaking loss in Indianapolis that Sunday night (and it was heartbreaking), the Patriots have given us hope, excitement, a common bond, and a reason to brave this frigid winter onslaught.

New England sports fans are rabid to be sure, but we’re also intensely loyal. We write angry letters, call in to radio shows with advice on who to hire, replace, and how we’d run the team, but we do it because we care. We’re passionate. Through winning and losing seasons, we are there. That’s true of all our teams.

For every naysayer, armchair coach, or Monday morning quarterback with something bad to say, there are a hundred loyal fans who know that this franchise has once again far exceeded expectations and performed so admirably.

So on behalf of all of us in the home town of Foxboro, and the rest of New England, let’s all shout out a heartfelt THANK YOU to the New England Patriots. To Coach Bellichek, Tom Brady and the entire Patriots team, win or lose, thank you for another memorable season. You may not be bringing home a fourth Super Bowl trophy, but you have made us proud just the same.

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