Patriot Pat says...
For myself and the Patriots, first and foremost comes the franchise. Above anything else considered when exploring your fanhood, should be the love of the team—the entity, or essence, that is the idea of the team.
They are the New England Patriots, and they are our team.
No matter what anyone says about them, they are our team, and we will love them. Of course we love individual players who make up the roster, but above all we should value the team.
It could be Tony Eason, Steve Grogan, Doug Flutie, Babe Parilli, Jim Plunket, Scott Zolak, Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, or Matt Cassel calling the signals, and we will love our team.
Coaches, players, stadiums, logos, and owners come and go. The one thing that remains is the Patriots—the team.
It would be truly spectacular if I could sit down and write a fabulous story about the exact moment when I became a fanatical fan of the Patriots. The truth is that being a fan of the Patriots is just how it is.
It is what it is.
I have been a fan since before I can remember. I can't tell you that I remember that first game I ever watched with my father, or the first time I considered them as my team.
There was a time when I feared they would be the Hartford Patriots. I remember that very well, because that was a very dark time for us true fans.
Then Robert Kraft, an avid lifelong fan of the Patriots, came to the rescue and revamped the franchise. He took a team that lacked stability and turned it into an old reliable.
There hasn't been a team nearly as successful as the Patriots during his tenure as the owner of our franchise. They have had two losing seasons in the 14-plus years he has owned the team, and have managed 156 regular season wins, only 68 losses, five conference championships, and three Super Bowl victories.
But, I digress.
The Patriots are the solid rock in my life. Just as coaches and players come and go, they are that solid thing I can turn to when things in my own life come and go.
There will always be offseason workouts, mini-camps, signings, trades, preseasons, regular seasons, and, if we're lucky, postseason games for me to look forward to.
So, if you are wondering why the picture for this article is a picture of Matt Cassel, know that I am proud of the man, loved him while he was quarterback of my team, and wish him nothing but the best.
Of course I mourned the loss of Tom Brady last year, but remember that above all, we should love the team most—not just who makes it up.
One last thing: It doesn't really matter how you became a Patriots fan, just that you be a true one if you are.
I really just don't remember.
Andrew Cahill is a true Boston sports fan. Check out his Web site, "Patriot Pat's Patsies."