‘Don’t be jealous,’ my Mom used to say. Jealousy, as an emotion, is weak and useless. I was taught to always cheer people on and be happy when good things happen.
Well, this week, my Mom admitted she was jealous.
As a sports fan – specifically a die-hard New England Patriots fan – I got the opportunity of a lifetime. Through the team, my new best friends, Draft Kings, Weber Shandwick and some good old-fashioned fate I was able to be a part of the Patriots experience, up close and personal. The invite to travel, stay, play and be a true part of the World Champions on a game day. Yeah, I guess I can do that.
Tampa Bay? Week 4 of the season? Wheels up on Wednesday? Damn, skippy, I’m in!
Here were my 40 Hours with the Patriots…
Wednesday, October 4
I won’t spend anytime talking about the early morning details of wardrobe selection, scripted conversation plans or the eight times I was slapping myself in the mirror praying this was not a dream or some elaborate scam my buddies were plotting against me. Let’s get right to the heart of it.
Arrive at Gillette Stadium – The Big Razor. The House that Kraft, Belichick and Brady built (OK, Bob paid the tab, but you get the imagery). God’s Country for Bostonians. Graciously greeted by the some of the great Pats’ peeps (Hey Tiff) and ushered up to one of the many incredible stadium suites for a little lunch and a meet and greet with my traveling mates (Hey Aliza, Bob and Mike!). I am 16 minutes in to the this whole experience and I am literally pinching myself in the coolest bathroom ever. (gratuitous selfie included).
TSA check…AT the stadium. What, whaaaaat? Yup, the Patsys don’t mess around. Full security check point completed right there. Why? ‘Cause World Champions don’t have time to waste. Not sure why I am asking the TSA agent for an autograph…on my chest? Guess I am just jittery? Thank you ladies and gentleman for assuring my safety before boarding the inaugural flight of ‘5 Rings’ Yeah, that’s right, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Anxiously board one of the luxury buses in anticipation of our short trip down to TF Green. Hey Zo! (coolest cat ever, by the way).
And just before we get this bad boy rolling, enter Chris Hogan and James White for a little pre-trip motivational speech. Yeah, cause I was starting to doze off and needed more excitement! Just awesome. Btw, James, still waiting for the answer to my final question from our interview two weeks ago. And dang, Chris Hogan, you are handsome. Of course, that is a Patriots wide-receiver job requirement as we all know.
I’ll let this video speak for itself
I love the expression ‘Wheels Up’ and will continue to use throughout this column. Probably going to start using it to start all my sentences after this week. Just saying.
“Wheels up, kids. Dinner is ready.”
“What are you talking about Dad?”
Hey, is that my name on my seat? So wait, am I on the team now? I do get to play linebacker tomorrow night? Sweet! Thanks! (Love how they threw in the ‘JR’ like I am Odell Beckham)
Incredibly gracious and polite in-flight staff. Thanks folks. I hate flying and you made it so easy. And the halibut was delicious.
Wheels down (doesn’t have same cool ring to it, huh?). Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the trip? The 10-car police escort to the hotel. Felt like Trump… only with less tweets. Very cool.
Check in, clean up and back to Frank Force 1 (oh yeah, that’s what I titled the bus). Oh, and look what I found waiting for me in my room? Bag of swag. I wish I could take the Patriots to prom. By the way, Patriots staff, here is your number 1 fan that will be receiving the lion’s share of this awesomeness. Matt is pretty awesome too. Thank you kindly.
Dinner time. Par for this course so far, the Champs took us guests to an absolutely ridiculous restaurant. Decadent and delicious. And how about this – this is how sharp the folks at 1 Patriot Place are – they made note of our info and realized yours truly has a birthday this week….and they sang happy birthday with the entire wait staff. You kidding me? Twenty-nine never felt so good.
Thursday, October 5
After treating my stomach like royalty, it was time to shut it down. What a day! Is that a lamb bone in my pocket?
This is all too awesome to sleep. Maybe I’ll do some push ups? Maybe Nate Solder is up and wants to chat? Probably not. Go back to sleep, jackass.
Oh my God, this bed is so comfortable. I haven’t slept this late since the late 1990s.
Little bacon and eggs to fuel up. Oh, hey elevator buddies, Josh McDaniels and Rob Gronkowski. In my brief time with them, all I could muster was a very sad, squeaky “Good luck” as I departed to my floor. Damnit Frank! You’re better than that! Come on, man!
Start applying facepaint.
Promptly remove facepaint.
I’m kidding – it was full body paint of Julian Edelman in his away game uniform, for the record.
Back to Frank Force 1 again. Time to get to The Big Sombrero/Pirate Ship/Place Where Buccaneers Play Football.
Oh man…walking through the tunnel like I am Bizarro John Gruden. This is legit crazy. After a couple hours of roaming the sidelines like Suzie “I wanna kiss you” Kolber, we head up to the awesome seats our home town heroes provided us. Oh, hey Tommy.
Brag about how awesome it is to be a Patriots fan in the beer line to Mildred, the 86-year-old Buccs season ticket holder. Boom, roasted, Millie!!
Friday, October 6
A win is a win, baby!! Back to FF1 (yeah, already gave it an acronym)
Wheels up! (You hate me yet for continuing to say that phrase, don’t you? I don’t blame ya’.) Another perfectly pleasant in-flight experience. Even got to watch an episode of ‘Always Sunny’. It just doesn’t get better.
Hello again, TF Green. WE are back (oh yeah, I am literally a part of the team at this point, obvi)
Back at The Razor and wishing I had a time machine to go back 40 hours in time.
You often hear the expression, ‘The Patriot Way’ regarding the unparalleled professionalism, confidence and winning way of this team of players and coaches. After this experience, I promise you that the Patriots’ ‘off the field’ team exhibits those very same characteristics and do our town equally proud. Thank you so much for this experience and don’t be shy if you ever find a extra seat on 5 Rings you need to fill..
P.S. And just when I thought it could not get better, I got to meet another childhood sports hero. Hey Rocket!
P.P.S. My new BFFs at Draftkings wanted me to remind sports fans that you too can win these types of experiences by gaming with them. #bucketlist