Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Confessions of a Two-Team Fan
Growing up in Connecticut, I was always strangely a Denver Broncos fan. They were my only team that wasn’t local (the Red Sox, Whalers, and Uconn being the other teams to which I claimed undying allegiance to). The Patriots were an afterthought my parents rooted for despite being mired in the Dick MacPherson-Hugh Millen years. John Elway was my Jesus, and I worshipped at his temple every fall Sunday. When the Broncos played the Pats, it was an excuse to rip on my parents as Elway, Shannon Sharpe, TD, and co. beat them silly.
Then, in 1999, the Patriots were supposed to move to Hartford. Bob Kraft even signed a deal with the mayor of Hartford and governor of Connecticut to move the team to a new, downtown stadium. Then, out of the blue, he reneged and scurried back to Foxboro. I had debated where my loyalties would lie if they had moved to Hartford, but decided to remain steadfast to the Broncs. This treason made it all the easier to hate the Bledsoe-Pete Carroll era Patriots.
Soon, things changed, and I went to college in New Jersey, surrounded by the typical New York-New Jersey area Yankees fans. A diehard Sox fan (more so than of any other team), I was their foil: a loudmouthed, obnoxious Red Sox fan singing the praises of Manny, Pedro, and yes, Johnny D. Naturally, it was assumed I was a Pats fan. Well, of course, at this point the Sox hadn’t won a title, the Whalers hadn’t existed in five years, and Uconn didn’t really matter, seeing as we were all matriculating at a small D III school. Needless to say, most people didn’t quite understand the Broncos thing, given that I had to admit I had never been in the state once in my life and knew no one from there. I realized two things. First was that saying I was a Patriots fan to people was a whole lot easier than explaining that no, I’ve been a Broncos fan since I was four, despite any rational reason why. Secondly was that, well, I really respected the way the Brady-Belichick Pats played the game, especially after Super Bowl XXXVI.
I played high school football for an old school, tough, Italian coach who implored us to play the game the right way. Selflessness, and an all for one mentality were valued above all else. Everyone should know their role, play their hardest, and do their job, no questions asked. Amazingly, I found those qualities in the team I had been trying my hardest to despise in light of their owner screwing over my hometown. It was as though I had just realized that the girl who lived next door all my life was my dream girl. Of course, I still felt conflicted, especially as the Broncos recovered from their post-Elway malaise and came to rival the Patriots. To this very moment, when the two teams play, I feel wholly conflicted in a way a parent must when they watch siblings compete against each other (sure you’re guaranteed a winner, but also a loser).
This season represented for me a pinnacle in inner torment. I now live in New York’s unofficial “Sixth Borough,” Hoboken, NJ, a town with a large influx of New Englanders, and a much smaller population of transplanted Coloradans. I work in an office full of the same Yankees, Giants, and Jets fans that surrounded me in college. Since I started in July, needless to say, people here came to quickly know me as the department’s newest and perhaps most obnoxious Red Sox fan. Once again, as NFL season hit, I realized it was difficult to explain the whole Broncos thing. Now that we’re in the playoffs (and that the Pats dispatched of the Jets, no less), I realized, that frankly, it’s easier to just go with it. I even finally sucked it up, and asked for (and received) a hat with one of the cooler logos of all, time, Patriot Pat, which I’m now wearing with regularity over my standard Red Sox hat.
I don’t expect that everyone feels it’s kosher to have two teams. I understand. I took heat in college when I started to root for the Pats on a more vocal level. My co-blogger even called me “fair-weather” this weekend. That’s fine. It’s not that I ever expected this to happen. If you had told me in 1999 that I’d seriously while in New Jersey, no less, be growing into a Patriots fan, I’d have laughed my ass off. But, the allure of the Patriots, my local team, a true team, is proving strong. I still like the Broncos, don’t get me wrong, but as I grow older and wiser, perhaps I’m seeing the error of my ways. The girl next door keeps looking better and better.