Can I Be Black And STILL Be A Patriots Fan?
My early childhood began in Boston, Massachusetts. I can remember driving around with my father and mother during late nights around the city and riding past the infinite historic sites, the men and women with their suits, their pencil skirts, and their brief cases. I recall driving around so many sites including Fenway Park and TD Garden until I fell asleep. I resided in Boston for the first four years of my life until I ultimately moved on down to Maryland, a place where I have now settled in ever since I departed from the city I once called home.
If you ask me what do I remember the most about Boston, the answer is always going to be “sports.” My infatuation for sports grew in what is now proclaimed as “TitleTown, USA”. But before Boston became the “City of Champions,” it was a city that wasn’t heavy affiliated with success in Sports. The Red Sox were breaking hearts every other season, the Celtics and Bruins were well out of their glory days with no bright future precedent, and the Patriots winning the divisional title, let alone clinching the Wild Card was a feat that required celebration alone. But approaching towards the end of the 90’s Boston sports must have had a meeting and said “Can we stop sucking?” and all the other Franchises were like “I mean, I don’t see why not…” and so the seeds were planted for a city to rule the sports world. The Patriots got to the Super Bowl in 1996 (which they lost but they were 6–10 the season prior), the Celtics drafted this dude named Paul Pierce in 1998, who was then paired up with this other dude named Antoine Walker and some promise began to reemerge into the city of Boston.
While Boston sports were on the rise, so was I. From being born in the summer of 1998, to three years later, watching Michael Jordan NBA Finals games that my mother recorded on her VHS tapes so that as soon as I could utter the words “mama,” would signify the moment I was ready to watch Michael Jordan break the hearts of Utah Jazz fans everywhere — sports were becoming my thing. My mother told me that similar to how she roots for the Cote D’Ivoire national mens soccer team, I have to root for my very own home team. So from that moment on, I was Boston down. Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Boston Whoever — I was rooting for them.
The “City of Champions,” run began with the New England Patriots when in 2001, the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in the franchises entire existence. I did not watch that game and if I did, I don’t remember anything about it. But you know what I remember for a fact? Panthers vs. Patriots Super Bowl 38. I was watching the game in my closet-like kitchen, where my television was propped on top of my refrigerator. I saw Adam Vinateri’s 41 yard field goal attempt sail straight through the middle of the goal post to clinch yet another Patriots Super Bowl victory. It was lit. I screamed like a freaking maniac. That was when I knew for a fact my devotion and love for the New England Patriots was as real as it gets and that this was going to be my team forever. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, The New England Patriots were my everything.
It’s 2017 and the Patriots are in a spot they’re all too familiar with at this point — another Super Bowl. Yet, this one has a different feel for me. I’m not losing sleep over the fear of Julio Jones stiff arming everybody in the Patriots Secondary. I’m not losing sleep over the disappointment I’ll feel if the city of Boston can’t “stick it to the man,” this Sunday. I’m not losing sleep over the criticism my favorite athlete of all-time will receive if he loses the game that will surely stamp him as the “greatest of all-time”. I’m not as emotionally invested as I normally would before a big Patriot Super Bowl Game. And if there was ever a game where a Patriot fan wanted nothing more than a victory to prove that we are the creme of the crop, it’s this one. So why don’t I feel this way this year? Because of Donald Trump and the ignorance of Tom Brady, that’s why.
Brady who is the most intelligent individual to stand under center, is currently acting like the most ignorant individual to live in America. During Super Bowl week, Tom Brady has renounced all attempts to discuss the presidency of Donald Trump. “If people want to take sides, you know, they can obviously do that,” said Tom Brady. “It’s everyone’s right. They have a right to do that. And I have a right to stay out of it, too.” Which logistically speaking, makes perfect sense but Donald Trump is not an individual you can call “neutrality,” on. He is one of those individuals where you’re either with him, or against him and there is absolutely no in between. Tom Brady has said on numerous occasions that he refuses to discuss politics because it will bring distractions to the New England Patriots. I would love to think this is ideal. But you see, Tom Brady subconsciously became a “distraction,” the second he was in front of his locker, taking questions from the media and in the top right corner of his locker a “Make America Great Again,” red cap was spotted.
Tom Brady became a “distraction,” when amidst of all the racist, misogynist, and prejudice things spewing out of Trump’s mouth, Tom Brady still endorsed him as his friend. And I would love to sit here and admire Tom Brady’s loyalty to stick behind a friend who the whole world is against (trust me, I’m the same guy who marveled over Tom Brady’s ability to recover a fumble that he fumbled to begin with) but if your friend obviously displays signs of xenophobia, grabs women by the “pu*sy” without their consent, and is a proved racist, then you need to get yourself a new friend. Unless of course, your friendship is based on these similar principles and values. If not, why endorse this friend? Why support this person as a positive aspect in your life when to everyone else, he is a monster? This is a “check your friends,” moment. Silence in the face of injustice is compliance. Birds of a feather flock together. If you lay down with dogs, you will come up with fleas. All of these analogies and more symbolize the miseducation Tom Brady has received.
And in the past, I have said that if you support Trump, then you’re endorsing racism, misogynist, and bigot values that divide this country. Yet, for some odd reason, despite this claim, it’s hard to believe that these traits would belong to Tom Brady. Tom Brady has shown zero signs of even remotely displaying these characteristics and everyone who has been a friend of Tom or has played with him has spoken so highly about him… black or white. So how can these traits apply to somebody as respectful and humble as Tom Brady?Then it hit me. The reason why Tom Brady can unknowingly endorse racism, misogynist, and bigot values is because these very same values will have absolutely zero effect on him and the people he cares about.
Tom Brady is currently drowning in what is called “white privilege.” The privilege of not having to be socially aware of your surroundings and to live life knowing that because of the color of your skin, and the “elite” class that you are in, there is nothing for you to be socially conscious about. Tom Brady had his white privilege on maximum display when he was asked about his position on Donald Trump’s immigration ban to which he replied “What’s going on in the world?” Brady asked. “I haven’t paid much attention. I’m just a positive person”. And for a good 24 hours, I committed a Boston sin. I was disgusted by Tom Brady.
It felt like Tom Brady just threw an interception on the last play of the game that determined my life x10000000.
Correspondingly to how Donald Trump has no idea what he is doing in the White House, I genuinely believe Tom Brady has no idea what is going on in the world. And I’m not thinking this because it’s Tom Brady and he’s a God to all Bostonians… I’m thinking this because unfortunately, Tom Brady who is a rich, white male has no reason to be socially conscious. Immigration ban, law and order, pro-life… Tom Brady is still going to be Tom Brady. The mass incarceration against my people bears no conscience to the mind of Tom Brady. The casting out of my black muslim brothers and sisters does not make Tom Brady lose sleep at night. He doesn’t even bat an eye.
That pisses me off.
With Atlanta on the cusp of winning the city’s first championship in years, the city is exuberant. So many defining moments have helped shape the city of Atlanta from 2016 to now. The TV show produced by Donald Glover “Atlanta,” was a hit around the country, especially with the black community. Migos (who are a rap group based in Atlanta) made the greatest song in the history of all-songs called “Bad & Boujee,” which is virtually everywhere (and as it should be). Gucci Mane is still Gucci Mane which is always a win. Morehouse and Spelman are still producing some of the most promising black scholars that the world has ever seen… etc, etc. Despite Georgia voting red, we all know damn well that Atlanta is another story. The city basks in unapologetic blackness. So much is going well for them and a large part of that is due to the mere simplicity of black people doing what they do best: being black. It’s such a beautiful sight to see and because of the Atlanta’s Falcons rise to superstardom, the whole black community is on their back, hoping that the sports team can halt the notion of the New England Patriots winning two Super Bowl titles in a three year Spans (the last team to do that by the way? The New England Patriots; 2001, 2003). Plus the Patriots quarterback supports Donald Trump? Anybody who doesn’t know a lick about football is definitely pulling for Atlanta.
So you can imagine how I feel. I feel like that kid whose not allowed to go out of the house while all his friends are outside — across the street, riding their bikes and eating push-pops.
But you see, I’m used to this “us vs. the world,” rhetoric. Patriot haters are nothing new. They’ve been here since forever. And for me it was fun. It was fun seeing everybody hate us for logistically no good reason other than the fact that our QB was married to the richest super-model in the world, was handsome, wore uggs, and kept winning us football games. That despite Roger Goodell taking away our draft picks and our QB, we were still back on top. The “Hate Me Now,” game was fun. Until Donald Trump got involved. Now everybody seriously hates us and for good reason. Prior to this newly motivated hatred for the Patriots, they were simply hated for football reasons which was perfectly fine. People hated the Patriots for the same reason everybody hates the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers. But now the New England Patriots are being allocated a new kind of disdain that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a North American professional sports team receive: The Patriots are being hated for political reasons. With the owner, the head coach, and the star quarterback all being some of Donald Trump’s most reliable associates that he calls on to solidify how much of a “winner” he is, everybody is fed up with the greatness of the Patriots having to be affiliated with the presidency of Donald Trump. A Patriots victory will feel like another victory for Trump, which is the last thing America needs. It also doesn’t help when Tomi “I’m only acting like an angry, white conservative so I can pay my light bill” Lahren, Sean “period” Spicer, and Kellyanne “Lord, please don’t let me sound like an idiot today” Conway are all pulling for the teams victory as well.
I‘m sure just like myself, every Boston fan is like “leave us alone guys. pls.”
Now the question comes into play — can I be black and still be a fan of the New England Patriots?
Figures like Martellus Bennet (who gives the Patriots a lot of appeal in terms of “likability”) and Devin McCourty both stood with their fists up in the air during the National Anthem in their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. Bennett also said if the Patriots win this Sunday he likely won’t go to the White House to go visit President Trump which is why I love him and his “I’m going to do me, regardless” lifestyle. Matthew Slater is one of the most likable and well-respected guys in the National Football League, which is the complete opposite of what Donald Trump is to America. Them among others are a core group of guys who I know oppose the ideals and beliefs of Donald Trump. But the Patriots unfortunately aren’t defined by these great talents to the mass media. They’re defined by Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.
As someone who has been a New England Patriot fan their whole entire life, life as a Patriot fan has never ever been this conflicting. As someone who has cried after every playoff affiliated Patriot loss since 2006 (I’m serious. Tears have been shed on multiple occasions due to Patriot playoff loses), nothing breaks my heart more than the quarterback of my team soaking in his privilege of being a rich, white male. Part of me hopes that Tom Brady will be able to see the light one day. Part of me knows that Tom Brady probably has no interest in educating himself in the race relations of America and the heinous intentions behind the actions of his “friend”.
Tom Brady was and always will be the greatest of all-time to me. What he has done for me and my childhood is life altering. The butterflies that floated in my stomach before big Patriot matches will always stick with me. The joy of being a Patriot fan and the seldom anguish of being a Patriot fan will always help define the person who I am today. But until proven innocent, Tom Brady is also something else to me now: Another rich, white male who could care less about the plight of those who are not in the same social stratosphere that he inhabits.
And I don’t think I can support that. Even if it is Tom.