Gratitude and perspective on the eve of the Super Bowl

I’m writing this an hour before the kickoff to Super Bowl 53 to remind myself about how I’m feeling right now in case some ridiculous catch or devastating strip sack ruins my night.

My friend, Steve, says that as a Patriots fan, I’m spoiled, and he’s right. But more than spoiled, I’m so incredibly fortunate.

For the past 19 years - in the prime period of my adulthood, in a time when I’ve owned season tickets and attended most of the Patriots home games, I’ve had the honor of watching the greatest sports dynasty maybe ever.

The Yankees might contend for that title, but since I’m also a Yankees fan, I don’t need to squabble over positioning.

The point is that I realize how lucky I am. Truly.

I have watched the team I love - the team that I first fell in love with while sitting at my grandfather’s feet on Sundays, cheering on the team - play in 11 Super Bowls.

21% of all Super Bowls ever played.

I watched the Patriots lose in ‘86 while sitting in the living room of my childhood home. I was 14 years old, and I wept that day.

I watched them lose again in ‘96 in my friend’s living room. As Desmond Howard ran back a kickoff for a touchdown, I threw my shoe through the wall above the TV, angering my friend’s wife quite a bit. .

Then I was sitting in Shep’s living room in 2001 when the underdog Patriots beat the same team they play tonight for their first Super Bowl championship.

I wept that night, too.

Beginning that year, I have spent countless Sundays and the occasional Monday and Thursday night in Gillette Stadium watching this team play brilliant football.

I have watched Tom Brady’s team play in 13 AFC championship games. I have personally attended 7 of those games.

I’ve watched the Patriots go undefeated in the regular season. I’ve watched them win a record 21 games in a row. I’ve watched Tom Brady win 11% of all Super Bowls ever played.

Yes, there has been disappointment, too.

The goddamn helmet catch. Mario Manningham’s catch. The Welker drop. Brady’s lost season. Last year’s strip sack. Singular plays that cost the Patriots three more Super Bowl championships.

But I also watch the Patriots win their first Super Bowl as the clock ticked down to zero. I watched Adam Vinatierii make two impossible kicks in the snow to send the Patriots to the AFC championship game. I watched an unlikely cornerback named Malcolm Butler intercept a pass in the end zone at the end of a Super Bowl to secure a Patriots victory. I’ve watch the Pats come back from 28-3 to win a Super Bowl in overtime.

It’s been a glorious run. And thankfully, I’ve been in a position to enjoy every moment. Tom Brady took over the team when I was 30 years old. Old enough for me to have watched those two early Super Bowl losses. Old enough to know the pain of a 2-14 season back in ‘92. Old enough to remember Steve Grogan and Stanely Morgan and John Hannah and Andre Tippett and Steve Nelson. Old enough to remember the snowplow game. Old enough to have lived through so many losing seasons.

Also old enough to watch every single game of this remarkable run. Almost half of them in person with some of my best and closest friends.

Yes, I’m spoiled. And win or lose tonight, I will consider myself so very fortunate to have been a Patriots fan through this remarkable period in the franchise’s history.

Having said that, I really, really hope we win.

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