I don't follow football at all (or any sport for that matter) unless one of the hometown teams is playing, it's the end of the season, and the game matters a lot. But I have to say, I am so excited about the season that the Patriots had this year (even though I didn't realize the magnitude of their success until like, last week) and I am so hoping that they win. All of this despite the fact that I am a Jersey girl, born and bred and should probably be rooting for the Giants of my youth. Here's how my unlikely fandom came to pass...
For out-of-towners, it may be easy to hate the Patriots of the last decade or so. They've had a consistently excellent record (I think) and have won several Super Bowls since 2002 or so (I'm pretty sure.) However, when this Jersey girl first moved to New Hampshire 1990, the Patriots sucked. They were a sad, sorry joke. I remember hearing natives claim the Patriots as their favorite team, and just feeling bad for these New Hampshirites with their funny accents and their lame sports teams. How sad it must feel to have your loyalty hitched to such a pathetic team.
But in retrospect, I see that the Patriots were just at a different point in their lifespan. Much like how I was when I first moved here. I was eleven years old, at the height of the notoriously, impossibly awkward stage that is pre-pubescenece when I first moved to New England. I had crooked teeth and frizzy hair that I sculpted into an unsuccessful wall of bangs. I was a few pounds overweight but in my own mind I was grossly obese, and a head taller than my twin and all the other boys in my class. Some children managed to take this kind of awkwardness in stride by becoming the boisterous, funny fat girl or the charming new kid in town that everyone likes. Not me: I wore my horribly low self-esteem on the sleeve of my over-sized grey hooded sweatshirt with wolf's face silk-screened on the chest. I had absolutely no self-confidence. In my own mind, I sucked as much as the Patriots did. And many of my brutal middle school peers did little to make me think otherwise.
Well a lot has changed around here in the past seventeen years. Those lame, losing Pats ended up with an incredible coach and world famous quarterback who is dating Gisele, the world's most famous supermodel. They are now a team that hands competitors their asses. I, too grew up: got hot, have a rich boyfriend, and am living out my dream or becoming a writer (that one hangs in the balance, mind you, but still...)
So you see? The Pats and I have a lot in common. And just as I just know the rest of my life will be as good as those interminable awkward years were bad, I just know the Pats are going to kick some ass tonight.
But if they don't win, who cares? At least they've earned the respect of the entire NFL, and become a team beside which all other teams pale in comparison.