December 26, 2011

Farewell to Boston - Number 5 - Super Bowl 39


It’s been long hyped…and long delayed. But it’s finally finished. PaulGallant.Net proudly presents A Farewell To Boston. Over the next five days, I’ll be recounting my five favorite Boston sports memories - ranging from specific games I attended, players I idolized, and my favorite teams - complete with a little Paul Gallant-style seasoning. Enjoy!

It’s Saturday, February 5th 2004. I’m busy being a lazy piece of sh*t, lying down watching Big Trouble in Little China after a long and arduous day burning my eyes out playing Halo 2.

Basically I’m bored out my mind with anticipation. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. And my religionteam, the Pats, will be winning their second straight Super Bowl tomorrow night.

As I’m watching Kurt Russell make some bad guy explode, my Stepdad, Scott, walks into the room and tosses a little piece of cardboard at me.

Scott has big smirk on his face. “Look what I’ve got…”

I look at the piece of cardboard. It’s a Super Bowl ticket.

Um… HOLY F*CK.

Scott continues: “Yeah, get to bed…we’re leaving bright and early tomorrow.”

Go to bed? After hearing that? C'mon Man.

But before we delve into this happenings of Super Bowl Sunday...it’s time for a mildly irrelevant Paul-Gallant style side-story!

The Eagles had always been my second favorite NFL team as a kid. Part of it was because my mom’s half of the family is from Berlin NJ, just twenty minutes away from Philly down I-676 . Also, with the Iggles were in a different conference than the Pats, there rarely was any conflicting interest. Plus…Philadelphia, like Boston (at least from 1986-2001), was a blue-collar town that demanded excellence out of its teams…yet rarely ever saw it. I could appreciate that.

Think about it…Philly celebrates a fictitious character like Rocky (who LOST in the best movie of the series) with a statue downtown. You don’t see any other Philadelphian sports figures with a statue…(nor do you see movie athletes ANYWHERE with their own statue). This town is starved for a winner. Again, I respected that.

That had all changed during the summer of 2004. That was when I realized that Philly fans - though intense, honest, and loyal - are completely batsh*t insane. And annoying.

I went to a Red Sox-Phillies game that summer with my dad at Fenway. The Red Sox wound up losing. I forget the score...and really forget the entire game.

What I did remember was this. And a whole lot of it. Drunken Philly dumb-asses chanting "E-A-G-L-E-S IGGLES" while filing out of Fenway. That annoyed the hell out of me. Didn't your baseball team just win a game against the defending World Series Champs? Weren't the Eagles coming off a season where they choked in the NFC Championship Game to Jake Freaking Delhomme?

Yes and Yes. And being an irrational hater, I decided to forever hold a grudge against Philly sports teams.

Side-trek over. FLASHBACK to reality.

I wake up the next day, don my Troy Brown jersey, and jump in the Land Cruiser along with Scott, my Mom, and my Uncle Len. After about a five hour drive, we arrived in the dogshitpile beautiful city that is Jacksonville…just in time for pregame festivities.

As we walked into the stadium, I noticed A TON of Eagle fans. They outnumbered Patriot fans by about 3 to 1. We were a bit of an odd group...me sporting a Pats jersey and Scott rocking a Donovan McNabb. So I wasn't that surprised when Scott was asked at least three times "The f*ck's the deal with your retard son?"

We got to our seats, complete with a Super Bowl 39 goodie bag. It was comprised of a handset radio that tuned to the Patriots or Eagles radio networks (and obviously I'm going to listen to Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti...the two voices that made me want to get into this business), some lame ass flashlight/fake candle for the Paul McCartney halftime show, along with a few key chains and fridge magnets...and a rape? whistle. All very trashable items.

If I remember correctly, the Black Eyed Peas performed prior to kickoff. They were probably terrible. Luckily, I was too busy being awed and stupified by fact that A: I was at a Super Bowl; and B: That a Super Bowl was actually being held in Jacksonville.

The game rolled along, and it was quite the battle. Terrell Owens going beast mode on a broken leg. Rodney Harrison out-catching Freddy Mitchell (2 interceptions to 1 reception despite Freddy's pre-game trash talk). Deion Branch was catching a ton of passes (a then Super Bowl record amount), while Corey Dillon was bruising his way through the Philly defense with clock killing bursts. And unbeknownst to me, Donovan McNabb puking his way through the fourth-quarter. But my favorite part came mid-way through the third quarter. It had nothing to do with the game.

Patriot wide receiver Troy Brown is probably my favorite Boston athlete of all time. He wasn't big, wasn't absurdly fast, and was an eighth round draft selection (a round that no longer exists). Yet he hung tough with the Pats his entire career, making big time plays at wideout, returning punts, and even making plays on defense (specifically in 2005, when injuries forced him to play at cornerback).

Naturally, I had to have his jersey...wearing it every Sunday for quite So imagine my surprise as midway through the third quarter, an African-American lady sits down in the vacant seat next to me.

"I love your jersey," she tells me.

"Got to have it," I reply. "He's my favorite player."

She proudly smiles. "He's my son."

My jaw drops. I'm pretty sure I went into an excited run on rant...that went something along the lines of "OMG HE'S MY FAVORITE PLAYER AND AN INSPIRATION AND HE'S SO COOL OMG AWESOME OMG TELL HIM I SAY HI AND STUFF." We chatted a little bit more before she walked back up the stands to her seats.

Asides from the Paul McCartney concert at halftime (which was freaking awesome) I don't remember a whole lot of the game. The Patriots ended up winning this bad boy 24-21, making it back to back titles and their third championship in four years. I thought my night was done...but sh*t got a little bit crazy before we could finally get out of the stadium.

For some strange reason, while fans were on their way out of the stadium, the folks running the Super Bowl decided they'd keep the exits of the Stadiums locked. Not a good idea especially when you've got a mass of mostly pissed Eagles fans wanting to be anywhere but at the scene of another Philly let down. Naturally, people started pushing and shoving, ticking off my black-belt stepfather and my ex-Air Force special forces/linebacker/shortstop/hockey defenseman Uncle. Basically two of the last people in the world you'd ever want to f*ck with (myself included).

I thought fists were about to fly...and heads were about to roll. Luckily - and just in the nick of time - the gates opened and we were FINALLY able to leave.

We got in the car at about 10:30 with a 5 hour drive in the works heading back home to St. Petersburg Florida. Before falling asleep, I spent about an hour trying to convince my Mom that I should take off school Monday in celebration...but to no avail.

We got home at 4:00 AM. I slept 3 hours...put on a Patriots T-Shirt...and left for school.

Tired? Absolutely.

But I knew a great day of gloating - and more importantly, rubbing my teams victory in the faces of all my jealous classmates - was dead ahead. #WorthIt

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