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

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 1/2004

In “City Streets” Carole King sings, “River wind is icy / Chills run through my bones / Tides of life are ebbing out / between the cobblestones … winter colored morning / Gray and dirty brown / Reflecting the mood I’m in / Despair is all around.”

King’s song seems sadly applicable to the artic tundra our town has become this month. The temperature in Foxboro fell to around minus thirteen a week ago. We drink liquid nitrogen to keep warm. The Christmas holidays are through; the common is once again a barren, ice-covered wasteland. People huddle and walk quickly. Winter hibernation has begun. Our cars screech and complain each morning, fighting us to start. The sun, warmth and green trees all seem like distant memories.

The Winter of Our Discontent?

Surprisingly, no. Our Patriots have once again given the people of Foxboro town a reason to celebrate winter. Throughout their amazing winning season, up to the incredible win of the AFC Championship at Gillette last Sunday, the Pats have given us hope, excitement, a common bond, and a reason to brave this frigid winter onslaught.

As our home team heads to the Superbowl, I had two thoughts about the Patriots that I’d like to share.

Point One. Acknowledging that the team is called the New England Patriots, it still really riled me when the guy in the Boston bar referred to them as the “Boston Patriots.”

Don’t you dare, Beantown! Don’t you dare! You might have the Sox and Celtics and Bruins, but the Pats belong to FOXBORO first. We are the town that has supported this team for decades. We supported the team through the losing seasons when you couldn’t GIVE away tickets to a Pats game. Foxboro supported the construction of a stadium when nobody else wanted it — TWICE. We have put up with the politics, traffic jams, politics, infrastructure changes, politics, taxes and threats to move the team to Hartford and God knows what else.

And while there is revenue for the town and other benefits, the bottom line, I think, the reason we do it, is we’ve always just loved the Pats. We support our hometown team through good and bad. We are not fair weather fans. The Patriots, indeed, are the home team here in Foxboro.

So Boston, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare ever call them the Boston Patriots. You could have had your South Boston stadium, you said no. You didn’t want them back when they were a losing team. Don’t try to jump on the bandwagon thirty years late, Beantown.

Point two. Yes, it is freezing outside, in fact, it’s just miserable. But the crowds were at Gillette for the “3 below zero” game anyway, braving hypothermia and frostbite and supporting our team. The “Go Pats” banners and signs are everywhere around town. We Foxboroians ignore this winter of discontent, to join together for an incredible event — the Pats are going back to the Superbowl!

To Coach Bellichek and the entire Patriots team, win or lose on February 1, thank you from Foxboro — your hometown, your biggest fans. This town loves you. You make us proud, and have broken the icy doldrums and frozen sub-zero hopelessness of this time of the year and replaced it with fiery town-wide excitement and camaraderie. Win or lose at the Superbowl, you’ve made Foxboro — your hometown — proud.

To paraphrase Bill Murray, “When Checkov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope, but we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But, standing here among the people of Foxboro, and basking here in the warmth of their hearts and love for the Patriots, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.” Go Pats!

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