Lessons in Life & Football

New_England_Patriots2A pet peeve I’ve had for a long time is when people will refer to a professional sports team as if they are part of it – as in, “we play Sunday” or “we need to bring our A game” or any other thing sports’ fans might say. Because newsflash, unless you’re actually putting that jersey on and getting on the field, you aren’t really part of the we.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was pretty much all of football season (which lasts like 10 months in an NFL town) when my family packed up and moved from California to Foxboro a couple of years ago. I quickly realized that pretty much everyone in the town felt like they were part of the team and no matter how often I pointed out that they weren’t, they were just not seeing it my way so I gave up.

Also, my husband told me it was rude – kind of like correcting my kids’ evolving Boston-like accents in front of people WITH Boston accents.

This week, when accusations began floating around about deflategate, it was pretty much a given in Foxboro that it was all crap. There was no way the Patriots cheated. No way, not “our” Patriots.

Okay, I’ll admit, and this may get me run out of my new hometown, my first thought was haven’t the Patriots been found to be let’s just say less than innocent of things like this before?

But fortunately, I knew to keep my mouth shut.

After all, it wasn’t a big deal really, just the business of football and doesn’t every coach look for every advantage even if it is kind of outside the rules? And I’m not on the team so what affect does it have on me really?

So I went with one of my many mottos:

Monkeys

Until this morning, that is. My 8 year old son, who lives and breathes sports and idolizes the Patriots heard on the news that the game balls were under-inflated.

It was like he’d been punched in the stomach AND told Santa was all a lie.

He asked why, why did they do it?

DID they do it?

How can they still go to the Superbowl if they did?

And so, Patriots, my first thoughts were that I was mad at you. Like really mad.

We’re not talking regular mom why-are-you-tracking-mud-through-the-kitchen-for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy-eat-one-vegetable mad. I mean the kind of truly scary mom mad a mother can only muster very early in the day when nothing yet has taken the edge off the three huge cups of coffee she consumed and before the day has taken its toll on her energy.

I started thinking about how my kid probably takes your losses harder than you do and how he thought when he went to your training camp, he was actually going to practice with Tom Brady. I thought about how excited he gets when he gets a pack of football cards and just hopes there is one Patriots card – doesn’t matter who it is, just a Patriot, any Patriot, past or present. Honestly I also thought about the ridiculous amounts of money I’ve spent on jerseys with your names on them and how it costs well over $1,000 for a family of 4 to go to see you play.

As I thought more about it throughout the morning, I got a little less scary mad and started wondering something.

Did you actually do it?

I mean I saw with my own eyes the referee pick up the ball and trade it for another one. Wouldn’t that have been the time to look into it? And shouldn’t ONE of the refs who touched the footballs repeatedly throughout the game maybe noticed something was off?

So I don’t know. Now I’m mad for you.

I’m mad that after a great season and a phenomenal playoff run, this will always be part of the story. I’m mad that after all the great things you’ve done in this town and especially for the kids in this community, this is what people will talk about. I’m mad that football at this level really isn’t about football at all.

So as for me and my house, we’ll believe it was an accident, a fluke of the weather, or some rogue ball boy/equipment manager and we’ll  put on our jerseys and root our hearts out and know that you’d have won that game regardless.

Because, really, 7 points Colts?