The essence of a New England Patriots fan and a Bostonian in 5 tweets.

This is a beautiful story. If you ever lived in Massachusetts, and especially in the greater Boston area, this will ring so true.

People in the Boston area are hardcore.  

It's Marathon Monday in Boston. As the runners make their way along the race route, a man stands on the side of the road, encouraging them with this sign that reminds them that in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, the Patriots were losing to the Falcons 28-3.

Keep going, marathoners. Don't give up. Anything is possible.

On Twitter, Addul Dremali, a biomechanical & data scientist and amateur photographer, posts a photo of the unidentified man and his sign.  

About an hour later, ESPN tweets at Dremali, asking if they can use the photo on all their platforms with a credit to him. 

This is where things get beautiful. With the opportunity to have his photo, name, and Twitter handle disseminated across ESPN's enormous and far reaching platforms, Dremail responds like a true and absolute Patriots fan.

This is a perfect reflection of what the people of Boston and its surrounding communities are like:

Fanatic, aggressive, perpetually angry, and so rarely self-serving. 

Forgive Dremali's language. It's also authentic to the Boston area.  

That is a thing of beauty. The perfect response by a man who had an opportunity to gain a little notoriety (in a culture where people will do almost anything to gain notoriety), and he decided to be a fan instead. 

About 30 minutes later, Dremail is contacted via Twitter by another news agency, requesting to use the photo. Their tweet is hilarious. 

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One minute later, Dremali responds perfectly.

It's so much more than just a game.

I know it's only a game.

It's a game played by men who I have never met and never will.

Still, I feel sorry for those who don't have the opportunity to experience the sense of collective purpose and love that being a sport fan can bring. I can't imagine missing out on the unmitigated euphoria that a victory like last night can offer.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl in the most dramatic fashion possible, capping off a season of obstacles and hardships. Their quarterback was (in the mind of every physicist) unfairly suspended for four games, and they were stripped of a first round draft pick. Their backup quarterback was injured in his second game, requiring their rookie, third string quarterback to play. Their second best player - one of the greatest tight ends of all time - was injured and could not play for most of the season.

They overcame each obstacle and remained mentally tough on the biggest, brightest stage in the world. They won glory last night. Eternal, unforgettable glory.

I stood with these men who I have never met and never will all season long. I stood in the sun and freezing rain and snow at Gillette Stadium, cheering them on. I rearranged every Sunday afternoon during the season so I could watch them perform. I stood in muddy parking lots with friends before the games eating meat and talking about the game. I was not a member of the 2016 New England Patriots, but I'll be damned if I didn't feel like one.

Just as important, this team has brought me closer and closer to the people I love most. With each play, each game, and each football season, I take a step closer and closer into the hearts and minds of these friends.

It is a collective joining of spirit and soul that is so rarely found in today's world. It's a mutual understanding of who we are and who we can be through our hope, our pain, our sorrow, and our joy. It's an opening of hearts and a baring of souls. We learn about our frailties. Our strengths. The way we handle pressure. The way we manage disappointment. The way we accept defeat. We learn about who we can poke. Where we can prod. When we must be gentle.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl last night. It was a historic victory. An unforgettable football game. A moment of a lifetime.

It was also a night when many of the people who I love most joined in sprit and soul and took one collective step forward into a ever-closing circle of friendship and love.

I know. It's only a game. Except it's so much more.

7 things that we all agree should exist but still don't. Unless you're four years old.

Seven things that we all agree should exist and are within our power to bring into existence but still don't.

  1. A vacation from a vacation
  2. The four day work week
  3. The elimination of all dress codes
  4. Cellular telephone jamming technology in every movie theater
  5. Decent rest areas along the Saw Mill and Taconic Parkway
  6. Five more seasons of The Office
  7. A national holiday on the Monday following the Super Bowl

We all yearn for these things that seem within our reach and are yet so far away. 

Except for my son.

This was the start of his vacation after a vacation. 
He also has a zero day work week, and he doesn't work on the Monday following the Super Bowl.

Being four years-old is amazing. 

My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

One of the best nights of my life

My wife, Elysha, and I were eating dinner in a pizza joint with friends last night. My friend and I were quoting Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I have no idea why, but we were. “You chose… wisely,” I said, quoting the Grail Knight near the end of the film after Indy chooses the real Holy Grail.

No,” my wife said. “You have chosen… wisely.”

That’s right. My wife corrected my quoting of an Indiana Jones movie.

I have chosen wisely. I clearly married the greatest woman of all time.

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As if that wasn’t enough, my wife then reaffirmed her assertion that if she were pregnant and in labor with our first child, and I was scheduled to play in the Super Bowl at that very same moment, she would expect me to play in the game and miss the birth of my child. ____________________________

To cap off the evening, another friend said, “Actually, I read something this week that I liked a lot… Oh, you wrote it!”

That’s right. My friend was about to quote me back to me. ____________________________

Maybe not the greatest night ever. My wedding night was pretty amazing, and there have been other nights equally memorable, but this one was pretty damn good.

Why it’s glorious to be a Patriots fan

Since 1993, the New England Patriots have had two starting quarterbacks: Perennial Pro Bowler Drew Bledsoe and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

There was a season when backup quarterback Matt Cassel was forced to play when Tom Brady was injured, but there was no question that Brady would be the starting quarterback once he was healthy.

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For 21 years, or the majority of my adult life, this franchise has been in the capable hands of just two quarterbacks.

By comparison the Cleveland Browns have had 18 starting quarterbacks since 1993, and that includes three years when they weren’t even a team. The Washington Redskins have had three starting quarterbacks this season.

In that same 21 year period of time, the Patriots have had just three head coaches: Future Hall of Fame inductees Pete Carroll, Bill Parcells, and Bill Belichick.

By comparison, the Cleveland Browns have had nine head coaches in that same period of time, beginning with Bill Belichick. The Raiders have had an even dozen.

Parcells took the Patriots to the playoffs during every year of his tenure with the team, including a Super Bowl in 1996, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

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I put a shoe through my friend’s living room wall that night.

Carroll was the least successful of the three coaches, but still, he won the AFC East in his first year as head coach and took the team to the playoffs in two of his three seasons. Carroll has gone on to win a Super Bowl and a national championship at the college level.

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Under Belichick, the Patriots have gone to five Super Bowls, winning three and coming damn close on two others. The Patriots have been to the playoffs in 12 of his 14 seasons, missing during his first year as head coach and in 2008 when Tom Brady missed all but one game due to injury. Still, the team went 11-5 that year.  

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The leadership and stability of the New England Patriots has been astounding. It’s no wonder that since 1993, they have the most wins of any NFL franchise. They have also been to the playoffs more often than any other team, made it to more Super Bowls than any other team, and won more championships than any other team.

It’s been a good 20 years. I’ve rarely missed a game and have spent many afternoons and evening in the stadium, watching them from the nosebleeds.

It’s good to be a Patriots fan.

I live in a country where Janet Jackson’s boob receives more attention than net neutrality.

I just learned that the FCC received 1.4 million comments on their website regarding Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl. This is the most comments that they have ever received about an issue.

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I’m not saying that the world needed to see Janet Jackson’s nipple-covered breast at halftime of a Super Bowl, but do we really live in a country so prudish that more than a million people ran to their computers following the reveal to complain?

It’s just a boob.

But I guess we do.

The FCC is currently soliciting comments on the issue of net neutrality, which is about a billion times more important than a televised boob, and thanks to HBO’s John Oliver and his recent call to viewers to voice their opinions, the FCC has received just over a million comments on the issue.

Not as many as they received for a boob, but still a lot.