I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan by blood (lived near Minneapolis as a young kid; my father took me to games during the late-’60s Purple People Eaters era), but a New England Patriots fan because why the hell wouldn’t I be? I’ve lived in Massachusetts for 37 years. I paid my dues in the bad old days when the Pats were a league joke. I watched them lose to the Houston Oilers when it was 34 degrees out and raining hard, my rear end soaked because the aluminum benches at what was then called Schaefer Stadium (later Sullivan Stadium, now long gone and unlamented) had butt-cheek dimples that guaranteed every fan (there were about 9,000 of us that day) a puddle to sit in.
I offer that backstory because I and other Pats fans deserve every sweet win, every Randy Moss stop-fade, every win-sealing fourth-down stop of the Belichick/Brady era.
But after last year’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants, I thought I was done. I thought the agony of that game would do for me what Bill Buckner did in 1986 – drive me away from fandom forever (I haven’t watched more than two innings of baseball since, and I used to be a big Red Sox fan).
It’s hard to explain how that Super Bowl loss hit Patriot Nation. It felt, and still feels … like a mistake.
I hoped it would chase me off forever, so I could do rational things with my Sunday afternoons. I tried not to pay attention to this year’s NFL draft. I ignored the beginning of training camp. I refused to get sucked in when Tom Brady said all the right things, as he always does.
But now the Patriots have hauled off and signed John Lynch (shown above in a photo by Travis Dove). He’s a perfect Pats veteran pickup: you hate his guts until he’s on your team, he hits like a freight train, he’s a borderline dirty player, and he just wants to get back to the Super Bowl before he retires.
Sigh. I’m back. Going to have to cancel all those Sunday afternoon family activities I was looking forward to.