As a kid, I was always a huge sports fan. I loved the Red Sox (even though it was back in the days before we had reversed the curse) the Boston Celtics (before Kevin Garnett), but I was a late joiner to the Patriots organization as I didn't join until 2001.
When I was teenager, Sept. 11, 2001 occurred, and like every American, it completely changed my world. Everything I had loved and believed in was gone, and my life was turned upside down.
I needed a hero. I needed something to believe in when all other beliefs were gone.
The weeks following 9/11, I heard that the Patriot quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured and that a young, sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady was picked to start.
I wasn't expecting much, but I decided that perhaps watching football might lift my spirits. We were already down 0-2, and it didn't look like the playoffs were going to happen.
Brady started the final 14 games of the season for the Patriots, and the team ended the season with an 11-5 record.
By this point, the pain from Sept. 11 was still hurting, but everyone in my town started to get around the team. The Patriots earned the second seed in the AFC playoffs, and won the divisional game against Oakland in overtime.
When they won on a Adam Vinatieri field goal, we began to believe that perhaps the Patriots had a chance. But then, there was the hard, battle-tested, Pittsburgh Steelers.
After a back and forth battle, the Patriots prevailed 24-17 and advanced to the Super Bowl. For the first time in months, my town had something to talk about besides the horrors of 9/11. We began planning Super Bowl parties, and celebrating the Patriots success.
It wasn't just about winning or losing, it was about believing in something, believing in a team—America's team. Then came the Super Bowl.
Many believed that Tom Brady did not have a chance against the Kurt Warner and his high-flying offense. But the game stayed close, and with two minutes before the end of the game, it was a tied, 17-17. Then Tom Brady drove the troops down, and Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winning 48-yard field goal.
We were all speechless.
In the year when we really needed heroes, Tom Brady and the Patriots delivered.
Three Super Bowl rings, injuries, and an 18-1 season later—I am still a fan.