Sunday was a postcard-perfect day for a football game -- blue skies, warm sun, red and gold leaves, and a victory from a rejuvenated Patriots team. The sunburn on my face is a pleasant, though fleeting, souvenir of my last home game for quite some time.
Sometime in the next few weeks, our baby is due to be born. And while I love attending home games, twelve hours at a football game will be a little too much for a newborn (or me) to handle!
To get the full Patriots experience this one last time, we leave home at 7:45 AM to meet the Razor's Edge core members at the designated Route 1 rendezvous point. When we hear that the lots are open, we all drive to P2 together and claim our spot, where we set up a row of tents and settle in to wait for the game. Pancakes, breakfast burritos, and mimosas are served. As the sun climbs higher, coats and coffee give way to short sleeves and beer.
Over the hours, other tailgaters gather in our tents as they find us. By the time our group photo is taken, I count at least thirty people, maybe more. They range from ticket-scrounging shlubs like us to suite dwellers; from first-timers to Fans of the Year; six-year-olds, players' families, even Dolphins fans. The emphasis here is on hospitality over all.
Once we go into the stadium, we even share our third seat with a Dolphins fan from the party. We're supposed to give him a hard time, but both teams give us plenty to talk about, and he doesn't rub it in when Miami scores. It's okay; the Patriots are clearly winning this game anyway. And I'm not exactly leaping out of my seat these days when exciting plays happen. I'm cheering, but I can't move much!
The summer-like conditions seem to have mellowed the entire crowd, actually. It's hot. Once in a while, Rosevelt Colvin or Matt Light tries to rev us up, but the crowd stays unusually quiet. By halftime, I'm guessing that everyone on the sunny side of the stadium either has heatstroke or is in a beer coma. (For my part, I'm thankful for the towels they handed out -- soaked in cold water, mine is a godsend. And I keep retreating to the shade of the concourse to cool off.)
But the Patriots win the game! It isn't a pretty win -- wins never are when they play Miami -- but things go our way on the field. Hooray for Gostkowski, who finally makes some good confidence-building kicks. And as usual, the Patriots defense plays extraordinarily well. I'm a little puzzled at Laurence Maroney's repeated runs up the middle, because they rarely work, but that's okay. I can't complain about a win.
Back at the tents, the afternoon tailgate stretches on for hours. We notice the sparse traffic leaving the field -- it's very unusual to see Route 1 actually moving this soon after a game! -- and we guess that no one wants to leave yet, given the nice weather and the long weeks between now and the next home game. That's how we feel, anyway. I'm exhausted, footsore, and sunburned, but it's nice to just sit around talking about the game. The baby stirs and reminds me that sometime soon, we'll be able to bring a third little fan with us to these home games. Won't that be fun?
So for now, goodbye, Gillette Stadium! But I'll keep watching the games on TV. I don't think I'll be able to stay away.
Jenifer Tidwell can be found at the Razor's Edge tailgate party during game days. You can also find her on occasion in the forums under the name of BruschiBackerJen or on her personal website at www.jtidwell.net