Guerry Clegg

Finding a seat on the Patriots’ bandwagon

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots’ Tom Brady holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Houston. The NFL’s inexorable trend of going younger and cheaper does not bypass the best in the league. No team does it with quite the high-profile zeal as the Patriots, who have collected five Super Bowl titles since 2002, and will be going for No. 6 on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, against the Rams. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots’ Tom Brady holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Houston. The NFL’s inexorable trend of going younger and cheaper does not bypass the best in the league. No team does it with quite the high-profile zeal as the Patriots, who have collected five Super Bowl titles since 2002, and will be going for No. 6 on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, against the Rams. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) AP

Among the first things young sports writers are taught — right after removing the exclamation point from your keyboard — is to never show a rooting interest in teams they write about. No root, root, rooting for the home team. Show as much interest in the outcome as you do in all of those electives and foreign language classes.

In short: Be a professional.

To heck with all that.

Go Patriots.

No, Gooooo Patriots!

!!!

I’m openly rooting for New England to win the Super Bowl over the Los Angeles Rams for the most practical of all reasons. I hate to lose. When I do take a rooting interest — in the privacy of my own home, mind you — well, let’s just say the drought dates back to 1995.

Yeah, one of the benefits of sitting at home watching the Braves win the World Series on my wife’s due date with our daughter was that I could celebrate ending a lifetime of Atlanta fan frustration rather than feign disinterest in the outcome while fretting over deadline and worrying about getting champagne spewed in my eyes.

Oh, I pick a team, or gravitate toward one, every Super Bowl. I’m a lifelong Colts fan, but it’s not the same since they left Baltimore. And watching Peyton Manning ride off into retirement with a Super Bowl win with Denver was kinda neat. Seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees was really cool because 1) the Yankees lost, which is never a bad thing, and 2) I covered Luis Gonzalez with the Columbus Mudcats.

For the most part, though, the rooting interest is not much more genuine than political promises, and with about the same shelf life.

This Super Bowl will be different. I’m hereby officially becoming a Patriots fan for the weekend. And I’m going all in — gray hoodie and all. Yep, that means denying any and all evidence that implicates guilt in Spygate or Deflategate or justifying Bill Belichick’s injury report, that may or may not be … um, totally accurate. We’re quick healers.

It means defending the refs when they throw a flag for roughing the passer because the defensive player got close to Tom Brady.

It means changing my preferred password to 28-To-3.

Even if it means losing half my Facebook friends and all but six Twitter followers as I pump out GIFs of Belichick and Brady, all with the same theme:

GOAT.

Greatest. Of. All. Time.

Gonna have to learn how to do that goat emoji thing on my phone.

Oh, well. Haters gonna hate. Because we Patriot fans are not humble. We are not gracious winners. We don’t pretend to be. Some would say we’re the Alabama of the NFL. Actually, we prefer to say that Alabama is the New England Patriots of college football. After all, Nick Saban came from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, not the other way around.

Yeah, I said “we.” I’ve earned the right. I’ve been to Boston. Twice.

We’ve earned the right to gloat because we’ve been in so many Super Bowls that we know how to read Roman Numerals.

The Lambs, I mean the Rams, don’t have a chance. Jared Goff, take notes. Maybe you’ll get to win a ring after the GOAT decides he has had enough fun.

So while most of America is rooting against us, I’ll be making a spot on my mantle for my Lombardi Trophy replica.

Some might say that if my teams never win The Big One, then haven’t I just doomed the Patriots to lose? Well darn.

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