You know how some people pick vacation spots by throwing a dart at a map?
I guess that is how I came to be a fan of the New England Patriots. I didn’t write down the names of all the NFL teams on a piece of paper, tape it to a wall and throw a dart at it, but there was no real rhyme or reason why I chose to follow the Patriots. It basically all started at random.
I really became a fan of football when I was around 8-years-old. At that time my exposure to the sport had been limited. All the football games I had seen up to that point revolved around the Washington Redskins and the University of Notre Dame. My Mom grew up a Redskins fan and is still a fan to this day, even if Dan Snyder sometimes makes it hard for her to continue to support the burgundy and gold.
My Dad grew up loving Notre Dame football and he shared his love with me during my formative years. But I suppose I wanted a team to truly call my own, although I still root for Notre Dame to this day and still hope for the Redskins to achieve success in order to make Mom happy.
In 1993 the Patriots hired Bill Parcells to be their head coach and began a makeover in an effort to lift themselves from being considered a NFL laughingstock. The team also did away with its old logo of “Pat Patriot” in a three-point stance in favor of a new logo, a move that still leaves me with the slightest hint of melancholy.
I think I am the only Patriots fan and football fan in general who thought the old logo looked cool.
Parcells wasted no time putting his stamp on the organization by drafting Drew Bledsoe to be his franchise quarterback. I guess some cosmic forces were at work when that happened, because the beginning of the Parcells era in New England coincided with my decision to pick the Patriots as my team to follow and cheer for.
My love for the Patriots grew exponentially from there, at one point being so strong that I was the owner of five different Patriots jerseys, or one to wear each day of the week at school. It was a move that left me open to plenty of ridicule from my classmates.
I stuck with the Patriots after Parcells left to coach the New York Jets following the Patriots’ loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. Even though the team struggled with Pete Carroll as their coach and through the first year of the Bill Belichick era, my love and devotion to the Patriots never wavered.
My patience paid off, as the Patriots have since won three Super Bowls and are considered one of the model franchises in the NFL. Not bad for a team that once was known primarily as the recipients of an epic pounding by the Chicago Bears and their all-time great defense in Super Bowl XX.
So why am I fan of the Patriots? Above all else, I respect how they conduct themselves. It is all about the team; a notion that seems to be lost among the Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocincos of the world. That is probably one reason why neither of the aforementioned players has a Super Bowl ring.
Although other teams like the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers have recently followed the Patriots’ model of putting the team first in order to win championships, I believe they can be considered the originators of the practice in this era of parity and free agency.
Now I am just hoping my future son does not become a fan of the Jets or Miami Dolphins.