By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 1/2013
Before our New England Patriots go to Denver this weekend, before we are either anticipating another Super Bowl or looking toward next season, I would like to say this to the Pats, a sentiment I think most of us share:
I’ve proposed before that football has replaced baseball as the favorite American sport, and while baseball may certainly continue to be the great American pastime and will always remain beloved and well attended, NOTHING compares to the intense debates, discussions, fights, celebrations, and sheer love of the game of football — especially here in Foxboro, the only town in America to host a professional franchise.
During these first months of the year, as we deal with the 4:00pm sunsets, blizzards, ice, and bitter cold, not to mention the post-holiday letdown most of us feel as we settle back into the post-holidays, it’s very easy to get a little depressed, to really feel that those winter doldrums, and look at spring as so very far away.
But NOT when the Patriots are in the post-season.
There have been seasons when the Patriots have gone all the way – repeatedly! And times when they have lost the Super bowl. And seasons that weren’t so great. But no matter what, it’s not just a game for us, it’s a renewed sense of energy, of excitement, of commonality. Around here, if the Pats are playing, everyone knows it. Everyone is rooting for them.
Patriots, your home town loves you.
When the Patriots win the Super Bowl, we celebrate. When they lose, thousands of people still line up at Gillette Stadium afterward to greet the team bus and thank them for a great season.
For the next few days, and hopefully into February, this town will be focused on the Patriots post-season, and for a little while, much like a holiday season, all the divisions, fights and issues between us will go to the back burner for just a little while as we cheer on our heroes on Route One. I love that.
Yes, we have important town matters to discuss, but just for a little while, we can all agree on one thing and share the excitement that “our” team is in the post-season and looking great!
For the team they was first called the Boston Patriots and now belongs to all of New England, we here in Foxboro still claim the team as our own first, and we love them, no matter how the season goes, no matter who’s in charge, no matter what the roster looks like from year to year.
Win or lose in Denver, win or lose at the Super Bowl, you always do us proud, and give us a reason to celebrate.
So, thank you New England Patriots for giving us excitement and camaraderie and a great thrill (AGAIN!) – no matter what, we love you guys, and whether you return with a shiny new ring in February or not, rest assured we are grateful for your hard work, your sacrifices, your dedication to the game, and what you give back to us each year.
Good luck in Denver. GO PATS!
UPDATE: January 28, 2014:
What an incredible honor — I received a personal letter from Bob Kraft thanking me for what I wrote about the New England Patriots in the January 16 Foxboro Reporter. What a kind thing for him to do! Thank you, Mr. Kraft — this meant a great deal to me!