The Expatriated Patriots Fan

Hello. And welcome to the inaugural edition of my column, The Expatriated Patriots Fan. Let me take a moment to introduce myself, and to explain the title, in case I am getting a bit too clever with the wordplay.

I was born (Bristol Ct) and raised (Augusta Me) in New England and have been a Patriots fan ever since I started rooting for professional football. I was the only member of my bootcamp platoon willing to bet on the Patriots against the ’85 Bears. Yeah,  I figured they would lose, but someone had to stand up for them. (Especially in Navy Bootcamp in Great Lakes Il, there in the shadow of Chicago) Neither I nor my wife have missed a game in over a decade.

However, in 1997 I moved to Richmond Virginia to accept a job offer. Much to my great surprise, once you leave New England (or in fact, get South-West of Hartford Ct) the Patriots, Celtics and Sox are no longer the center of the sporting world, as inconceivable as that may seem. (Nor are the Bruins, for the NHL fans that are wondering) For some reason, people down here seem to care about teams with odd names like the Nationals, the Wizards, and the Washington Racial Slurs. Despite my best efforts, locals seem to focus on these teams. When I first moved down in 1997, with both internet shopping and news in their infancy, the only thing rarer than news stories about the Patriots was a scrap of Patriots’ memorabilia.

Now days, I am spoiled by instant internet news on my favorite teams. However, the local TV broadcasts and talk in the sports pubs still inexplicably centers around teams other than Boston/New England teams.

So, driven by a belief that has possessed sports writers since time immemorial (mainly, that their opinion for some reason matters more than others) I have decided to write a column from the perspective of the sports fan living outside New England.

As for my qualifications regarding appropriate levels of obsession about all things Patriots; as I mentioned, despite living in Richmond Va, I have not missed a game in over a decade. We are fortunate that the high national profile of the Patriots means that we get about ½ of their games on local TV anyway.  Often 3 or 4 nationally televised games a year, and another 3 or 4 that are shown despite being in the 1:00 or 4:15 time slots. For the remainder, (other than an abortive attempt to use the online version of NFL Sunday ticket once) we watch at a local sports bar.  Once a year, we try to attend a game in person. For 2013 we had front row tickets in Atlanta, and in 2012 we were on hand for the opening weekend game in Tennessee.  I have also attended games in Washington, Cleveland, Miami, and of course, Foxboro.

And of course, football is my very favorite sport to watch. Basketball is what I play the most, mainly because it is far easier to get a pick-up game of hoops then enough guys and space for a football game. But when it comes to watching sports, football is the king. I watch the Celtics towards the end of the season, and the Red Sox if they make the playoffs, but never miss a Patriots game. It’s not that I am a fair weather fan regarding the Sox or Celtics, but the incredibly longer season makes the regular season games so much less meaningful.  Assume you average 10 possessions a game in a 16 game season, then you get 160 possessions, or less than the number of regular season games in major league baseball. Thus a possession in the NFL feels like an MLB game to me. Punting is like losing a game, scoring a win. You can drop 3 games over a weekend in MLB. A 3 game losing streak for the Patriots would be world ending to me.

Looking forward, and assuming the nice folks at Musket Fire fail to notice how little of this column has actually been about football and actually accept me as a contributor, I hope to write 5 columns on the 2013 season in review. One on each quarter of the regular season, plus a post season wrap up. Then I will turn my attention to the draft, and some thoughts on the upcoming schedule. After that, training camp should have started, which will provide fodder for more columns, (I hope to attend at least one day this year) until such time as the regular season actually starts, which is what we are all secretly (or not so secretly) longing for. In the meantime, hopefully I will provide some worthwhile insights, a few laughable predictions, and maybe, just maybe, start an argument in a sports pub. After all, that’s the highest compliment a sports writer can aspire to, isn’t it?

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