This Pats Year
This Pats Year
The Patriots were never supposed to win Super Bowl XXXVI. Heading into that game no one outside of New England (and very few in the region who were being honest with themselves) gave the Pats so much as half a chance to win. Writing for Salon, Sean Glennon attempted to capture the gloomy fatalism endemic to the region’s sports fans at the time (though that spirit is near impossible to channel now). In The Purgatory of a Patriots Fan, Sean offered a first-person account of Pats fan friends and the mercurial swings of emotion they exhibited during New England’s victory over the Oakland Raiders in the Snow Bowl just a few weeks earlier.
The experience of writing that piece, along with the exhilaration of watching the Pats actually triumph over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl, got Sean thinking about what it means to be a fan – not just the fan of the Patriots, but of any team, in any sport. He wondered what value we derive from following our favorite teams, particularly given the fact that those teams break our hearts more often than they don’t. Why is being a fan so important to people? Why is fan identity something we carry around with such diligence and pride?
It was with those questions in mind that Sean set out to tour Patriots Nation during the 2002 season. Sean spent every game day during that up-and-down season with fans of the New England Patriots during the team’s 2002 season. A different group of fans in a different setting every week. He hung with fans in bars, visited them in their homes, journeyed with them to the then brand new Gillette Stadium, to the heart of New York Jets territory and to Buffalo, where former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was in his first season under center for the Bills.
Sean reported what he learned in series of pieces published by the Boston Phoenix. And even though the season ended in disappointment, with the Patriots narrowly missing the playoffs, Sean realized there was much more to the story than he’d told in those 1,200-word newspaper pieces.
This Pats Year offers the complete stories of Sean’s season-long exploration into the nature of fandom. Sean’s game-day essays paint vivid and colorful portraits of Patriots fans: quixotic and mercurial, proud and steadfast, nervous and glum, jovial and celebratory. Chapters find Sean spending time amidst the rejected and out-of-luck in a bar just down the street from Gillette on opening night, drinking with fans in a gay sports bar, sitting with a die-hard woman fan, hanging out with world-class tailgaters, and having his holiday fan fantasies dashed in the electronics department of a Sears store. And taken together, the book’s 16 self-contained narratives provide a look into the minds and the hearts not only of the Patriots faithful but of sports fans everywhere.
Try It Before You Buy It
Take a look at some of the original Boston Phoenix series and you’ll get a better sense of whether you want to read This Pats Year.
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