I am from New England. Like almost everyone else in that six-state section of the country, I am a New England Patriots fan. This is because I have a huge sense of hometown pride, and also because Tom Brady is a football god. Since they became a winning team back in the early 2000’s, they have been so much fun to watch and root for. Prior to the winning, it was often painful, but we rooted anyway, and then complained. That’s what Boston fans do.
My Dad, on the other hand, is a New York Giants fan. When he was a little boy, he would go to a friend’s house and watch football games, and his friend’s dad was a Giants fan. This was because it was so long ago, the Patriots didn’t exist yet. The Giants were the closest thing that they had to a home team to root for.
Well, my Dad is nothing if not loyal, and when the Patriots came into existence, he did not even consider changing his allegiance. Because the two teams are in different conferences, he is not often seen rooting against the Pats, but the Giants are “his” team. All of his sports gear is NY Giants. A jacket, a hat (both of which he wears when he picks me up at Logan, amidst a sea of Red Sox and Patriots gear; he always stands defiantly proud), and a warm, fuzzy blanket that we all fight over. He is a subscriber to a publication called the “Giants Newsweekly”. He watches the games (when he can) as though he is the coach. If they win but don’t play well, he’s in a bad mood for days. Because Giants games are often on at the same time as Pats games, the local stations will run the Pats games instead. It is rare that he gets to watch a live Giants game in the regular season. My mother is not a football fan, and she’s kind of cheap, so his decades-long plea for Direct TVs NFL Sunday Ticket has fallen on deaf ears (almost literally, her hearing is terrible).
I have always appreciated my Dad’s loyal fandom, and have done what I could to support it. I remember when they won that Super Bowl back in the 90s – my Dad was watching by himself at home so I kept him company. He was so happy when they won, he picked me up and hugged me (he’s a big guy, so it was like he was tossing around a rag doll – but it was still kind of fun). Once, when I was in high school, there was a game on the local TV station. He was thrilled but not able to watch it live, so he made a big deal of taping it on the VCR to watch later. Well, at one point later in that day, I walked through the living room and saw the word “STOP” on the VCR screen. I thought, “Oh no, Dad’s game!” And hit “Record,” proud of myself for saving the day. Or so I thought. Apparently the game had long since ended and my Dad had rewound the tape and had it at the very beginning of the game, so that all he had to do was hit “Play.” I recorded over the whole thing. He was beside himself and my Mom had me hide in my room for the rest of the day to stay out of his way. The man is a teddy bear, but that is pretty much the one unpardonable sin as far as he’s concerned.
A few years before I moved to LA, I found out that the Giants and Pats were playing each other in the regular season – a rarity. Even better, they were playing in Foxboro. My Dad had never been to a Giants game, so I thought this would be the best possible birthday/Father’s Day present ever. It was going to be from me, my sister and brother-in-law. So I started trolling for tickets. This was in the Spring, for a game in the Fall, and everywhere I went, tickets were already sold out. I was getting discouraged and mentioned my frustrations to my sister. Now, I adore my sister for being one of the sweetest, loveliest people on all of planet Earth; however, sometimes she is consumed by the details in front of her face and doesn’t always step back to see the big picture. She’s a teacher, and would often mention Josh, one of the other teachers she worked with. When I told her my ticket troubles, she said, “I wonder if Josh could help.” I said, “Why would Josh be able to help?” And she said, “Because he’s Josh Kraft.” And I said, “AS IN BOB KRAFT’S SON?!?! YES, ASK HIM TO HELP!!!!” So she did, and he got us tickets. My Dad was so thrilled, and I had grand visions of me and my Dad, hanging out at Foxboro, cheering for opposing teams. Then he took my brother-in-law to the game. I tried not to be bitter. In the end, they ended up tailgating with a bunch of my Dad’s work buddies and had a great time, so I was happy that he was happy. But I did really want to go to that game.
Back in 2008, during THAT Giants/Pats Super Bowl, my parents were invited to a party at the house of a woman my mother has worked with for years, Donna. Donna’s Dad was also a die hard Giants fan, but has long since passed. Because my Dad was the only Giants fan there, they put a chair in the corner for him next to a picture of Donna’s dead dad, and gave him a box of popcorn to eat. That was the extent of the Giants cheering section in that house. I can only imagine his elation when they won and how much everyone else in the room wanted him to shut up.
My boyfriend, from New York, is also a Giants fan. I suspect this is why my Dad liked him immediately. They have taken to texting each other during the games, which is pretty cute. Sometimes I get in on it by accident, and my Dad will send me messages that assume I have a far greater understanding of the game than I actually do (to be fair, I would always watch games with him from the time I was little, so he probably assumes knowledge sunk in, but sometimes I would just nap next to him. He’s really cozy). I try to keep my replies short so as not to disappoint him.
We’ve been joking with my Dad that if the Giants made the Super Bowl, we’d have to fly him to LA to watch with my boyfriend and another good friend of his who is also a fan. During the NFC Championship game last Sunday, when it was looking like the Giants would win, I sent him this message: “Pats are in!! Re-match?! We would have to fly you out, for your own safety.” His reply? “No way. I handled it once, I would love to do it again.” This cracked me up, so I wrote back, “Haha – my dad, the badass,” to which he replied, “U betcha!!!!” (My Dad has embraced texting abbreviations; at least he’s stopped using all caps, which made me always feel like I was in trouble and he was yelling at me). When I called my parents’ house the other night, he told me, “They’re already starting.” Meaning, Pats fans have already started running off their mouths in a way that is pissing him off. As he gets older, he gets more cantankerous, so I hope he doesn’t get himself in trouble anywhere.
So, come Super Bowl Sunday, assuming my Dad manages not to get beat up by crazy Pats fans prior to the game, we will be cheering on opposite sides. Although, I have to say, how can you grow up with a man like that and not cheer for his team, even just a little bit? I will be thrilled if the Pats win – but I won’t be too sad if the Giants win. And that’s for my Dad.
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