My love of the New England Patriots doesn’t make a lot of sense.
A collection of men who I have never met take the field to play a game that I have never played professionally, and even though I have no tangible connection to a single person associated with the Patriots organization, my heart hangs on every play.
And it doesn’t matter who is playing in the game. Last night, in Gillette Stadium, I cheered on running back LaGarrette Blount, who just weeks ago was playing for the Pittsburg Steelers before being released for disciplinary reasons.
Had he returned to Foxboro in the brown and gold of the Steelers, I would’ve prayed for abject failure. Fumbles and missteps and bone crushing tackles to the ground.
But last night he wore the red, white, and blue of my team, so I cheered him on as he ran over the Indianapolis Colts and helped to bring the Patriots – my team – to another Super Bowl.
As fan, we root for laundry. We are loyal to the uniform. Villains become heroes and heroes are made villains depending on the colors that they wear.
It’s almost religious. It makes no sense.
And yet I was standing in section 331, row 24, seat 5 last night, as the rain came down in sheets, euphoric as my team dismantled the Indianapolis Colts and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Last week I watched the Patriots defeat the Baltimore Ravens in one of the best playoff games I have ever seen. In the end, the Patriots defeated the Ravens 38-34, but not before having to make up two 14 point deficits and pulling of some of the best and most unusual plays that I have ever seen. It was a frigid, dry night in Foxboro last week, but we forgot about the arctic temperatures. Ignored cold hands and frozen feet. There was too much drama unfolding before us.
Yesterday was a different kind of game. Temperatures were near 50 for most of the night. Torrential downpours soaked is. The game was essentially over by midway through the third quarter. We were able to relax. Laugh. Celebrate. In my 10+ years as a season ticket holder, I have rarely laughed more than last night.
My favorite moment of the night, and perhaps one of my favorite moments ever spent in Gillette Stadium, was as the Patriots were driving to make the score 38-7. The rain was falling harder than it had all night. The wind was carrying it across the field in sheets. A timeout was called. The telecast went to commercial. Music began playing in the stadium:
Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen the Rain.
In a downpour, almost 70,000 people rose and began to sing together. Our team was on the precipice of another Super Bowl, and we were fortunate enough to be there to watch it happen. In the driving rainstorm. On a dark and windy night.
When the timeout ended and play resumed, the stadium stopped playing the music. Tom Brady stood under center, waiting for the ball to be snapped. Two teams were poised to resume battle. But the fans continued to sing.
I have never felt such a collective feeling of joy as I did in that moment. Men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, sang a song that almost seemed to have been written for this moment. It was as if we had spent our lives listening to this song and learning the words by heart so that we could come together on this one night, in this singular moment, to sing in unison.