It’s remarkable, the difference a road or, say, a flyover can make.

We’d spent plenty of time preparing for the drive to Foxboro. We’d stopped to pick up some appropriate apparel and snacks. We drove listening to pre-game reports, providing our own commentary about what we hoped for the four quarters to come. We crawled along the Route 1 traffic, tip-toed into the parking lot and crept to a parking space within view of the stadium. We even walked as members of the herd of people that languidly approached Gillette.

Across the street from the stadium, we were patient as we waited for the opportunity to cross the busy street and make the final journey to our seats, to the game. It was relatively quiet, which struck me as odd, given the rambunctious nature of the crowd in the lots.

Suddenly, the jets streaked across the sky over the stadium, at just about the same moment police gave us all the OK to cross. A loud roar of applause, of approval, rang out as we all strode across the lanes of traffic. Like that, in that single instant, the switch flipped from pre-game to game on, and a rush of adrenaline propelled me forward and into what would turn out to be three hours of laughing, cheering, booing questionable ref calls* and celebrating touchdown after touchdown as New England crushed Buffalo, 38-7, and we took it all in from wonderful seats that just happened to be about three rows from the top lights, speakers and, seemingly, the fires of the sun.

I am a baseball fan first and foremost. My game days run from April to, when things go the way I wish them to, late October. I’m prone to a small ballpark nestled in the heart of a city and athletes who wear buttoned shirts, long socks and brimmed caps to work 162 or so days a year. That is my sport, that is my collection of names and statistics.

But when you put me in an arena for other sports – hockey, basketball and, yes, even football – I easily become wrapped up in the wonder of it all. The passion of the diehards fuels me and makes me just as eager to yell, cheer and work to understand what I’m witnessing. I’ve been making an active effort to learn and enjoy football – and today helped me remember just what it is I enjoy about looking down (or out) upon people doing their best to compete and win.

And it took a lot out of me. By the time I was traveling in the car again, this time going back toward the city I could see peeking out over the hills during the game (yes, Virginia, when the sky is clear enough, you can see Boston from the tip-top of Gillette), my legs were worn, my face reddened by the sun and my body enticed by the idea of a couch or my bed.

That’s when I got a call playfully chastising me for even thinking about not visiting with friends. Which, let’s face it, is the best kind of call to receive – and one to which I really can’t respond by saying no.

*There were two calls at the beginning of the game that suggested to me that the Patriots won’t just be facing opposition from teams this season, but also opposition from referees. I’ll acknowledge that Brady’s fumble was a ridiculously close play and the call could have gone either way, but what should have been a Buffalo safety (and that which prompted the title of this post, a variation on what a fellow fan bellowed down to The Striped Ones) was quite a clear blown call, in my opinion. I understand that people are going to be watching New England like hawks this season, after the video situation. But it seems to me that the refs aren’t even going to consider giving the Pats a chance on close plays. Why? Two reasons: first, they’re the team to beat this season; second, refs are determined to make it clear that the Pats are getting absolutely no undue advantage this year. It was blatant and it was more than a little obnoxious. It made New England’s victory that much sweeter.

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