My favorite memory was beating the Rams. I was a junior in high school and hosted a massive Super Bowl party. I had taken bets on the Pats and was on the hook for $300 or a good chunk of my Christmas money. Yeah, I bet back then too. Going into the game I didn't think we had much of a chance. For two weeks all I heard about was how the Pats couldn't possibly hope to stop the greatest show on turf. Kurt Warner this and Marshall Faulk that. When the Rams tied it up everyone but me and two friends were discussing how the Pats put up a valiant effort but were now going to fall short as if it were written in stone. I remember telling Madden in front of my mom to shut his fucking face when he said to kneel and go to OT. When they kicked that field goal I jumped up and ran around the house and then outside just screaming for joy. Those two friends and I ran onto meetinghouse road shouting They won the super bowl! The Pats won the super bowl! It felt magical. My dad and I hugged it out too and during those years we fought more than we hugged so it was special for us. I came back in and smiled for at least an hour afterwards. We sang we are the champions in our den a few times and did celebratory shots of ouzo (snuck from dads liquor cabinet) in party cups. It was one of the best moments in my life in terms of pure happiness. Seeing Brady in disbelief brought me to tears. I loved that team and that year. I loved their intensity and style of play. Beating the Rams wasn't just an upset; it was THE upset. My best friend had died the year before and I was struggling in school and with life. Seeing my team, the underdogs, win against Goliath meant more to me than I can explain. It was raw emotions. I'd never want to be a teenager again but if I had to relive just one day of those years it would be that one. I still get somewhat emotional thinking back to it.
I had a slightly similar but different experience. I was also a junior in high school and had a close friend who didn't care for or watch sports whatsoever. When the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, he asked me if I wanted to watch it at his house with his parents because he knew I loved football and could provide a lot of insight into how the game works. I said, "Sure, but I don't think they stand much of a chance. The Rams may blow 'em out." While I was a Patriots fan I'd watched a lot of Rams games that year and didn't think the Patriots had a prayer of slowing them down on artificial turf.
My friend, who again knows absolutely nothing about anything sports-related, told me I lacked faith and bet me $20 the Patriots would win. Thinking it was easy money, I took the bet.
I remember pulling $20 out of my wallet as Vinatieri was lining up for the field goal and telling him I couldn't wait to hand him the bill if Vinatieri actually hit it. Even then, moments before the snap, I still thought something would happen that'd cost them the game. In that moment they weren't The Patriots
as we know them today, they were still just the second or arguably the third team in town. Brady wasn't Brady, Vinatieri wasn't Vinatieri, Belichick wasn't Belichick, Boston wasn't Titletown. I thought there'd be a bad snap, a penalty, a hooked kick...something. That's what happened in Boston sports.
Then he fucking punched that ball right down the middle of the goalposts.
I remember jumping around the living room with my friend, handing him the $20, his mom telling me "We told you! We told you!" and not giving a single fuck at all about how wrong I was.
A couple days later the same friend and I skipped school and drove down to Boston to watch the parade. At that point I'd never been to a professional game or event in my life, so everything felt so much larger than life to me - the sheer number of people, seeing the athletes and coaches driving by, seeing the Lombardi Trophy in person. It really was something special. I hope they can do it again this year and give another kid who's only ever experienced the fun of professional sports through a camera lens the same real-world celebratory experience.