I really didn't mean for this post to end up a short story, and almost decided it not to post it. Instead, I decided to move the conclusion to the top and give you two versions because I would like to know your answer. Short: The moral of the story is that because of either loyalty, logic, excellence and the way football players and coaches are traded all the time, it turns out I am becoming more and more a fan of the game itself. It makes it easy for me to enjoy watching more than one team. Though I still feel dirty sometimes when I use the word "we" whenever I address the fans. Being raised on loyalty I feel guilty, dirty and feel like I lost the right to use it. Who's side am I on anyway? Is there anyone else in here that feels guilty, like a cheating fan? Are you a dual team Patriots fan? Have your teams met in a Super Bowl. How do you deal with your own mixed feelings? The promiscuous fan. I have a guilty secret. I am a promiscuous fan. I'm in love with one team but married to the other. Moving from Europe, I never really knew much about American football when I was younger and the only football I really cared about was the real one. The one you play with your foot. To me, it looked like a bunch of guys falling all over the place and hitting each other with no real purpose. At least certainly not an obvious objective. If you ever grew up on soccer, I can assure you, when you get your first glimpse of American football from the outside in, it looks completely retarded. I had the same typical questions you normally hear about it coming from outsiders. Like, why do they call it football if they're always using their hands? In fact, you will probably hate me for letting you know this secret, but when I was about 10 years old, my mother bought me a nice warm Giants football jacket to wear in the winter, and I wore it to school, having no idea what it represented. Other kids used to ask me if I was a Giants fan, and I had no idea that was actually the name of a football team. When I didn't know what or who their quarterback was, I got called a "poser" and I had no idea what that meant either. I knew it was something bad, but I remember simply being embarrassed and waiting to go home, pull out the dictionary, and find out what the word "poser" meant. Well it turned out apparently someone forgot to write it in there. Little did I know back then just how entertaining and incredibly strategic football is. Little did I know that I would become so obsessed with it that I would spend hours and hours analyzing stats, videos, history, increasing my level of understanding of the sport and fans. And little did I know that it is so complex, that decades later you're still trying to figure it out and with each new level of understanding, your perspective of the game can change 180 degrees and find yourself right back to square 1. The more you learn, the more questions seem to pop up. Whereas initially I dealt with simple questions like, how come the Cowboys were considered "America's team" when the Patriots were named "the Patriots"? Years later, just when you think you have a good grasp on it, you have a whole new set of puzzling questions. Questions like why do they call it "total defense", if all it is, is just a partial yards measurement of one part of your defense? Why do fanatics go so crazy over yards and lose focus of the bigger picture like points? Especially those that have kept up with the sport for so long. Shouldn't they know better? And why doesn't anybody on TV ever talk about it? Nothing freaking made sense over a decade ago, and despite my new perspective, I can't say things are any clearer today. To get to the point, the first team I ever fell in love with was the Patriots and if it wasn't for them, or their name, I probably would have never cared about football at all. The 2002 divisional game against the Raiders was the first football game that I ever watched, which completely hooked me. The adrenalin. Excitement. The way the media was selling the Patriots as the underdogs. The whole 9/11 deal. And who can forget Adam Vinatieri's clutch game winning-FG? And most important, their name! Unlike some, I didn't start liking the Patriots just because they won, but rather because of their name and my loyalty driven soccer roots. I had to pick a side before I ever found out the winner, but their name along with the fact that they were the underdog made it very easy for me. I just didn't understand why they weren't considered America's team when their name was the Patriots. Dallas wasn't even the capital of the USA. Of course, at that time I was still trying to grasp why kicking a goal was worth 1 point, while crossing the white line was worth 6. "Who came up with this?", I used to think. I mean kicking a ball through that big a goal without a goalie defending it, seemed easy enough. It sure as hell made no sense to me why crossing this white line was any more difficult than crossing any of the other white lines. Is it that much harder? Today some argue red-zone efficiency is just another myth. Whichever philosophy you subscribe to, at first glance, the touchdowns certainly didn't look more difficult in comparison to the pressure of that FG. The kick looked more difficult. Despite my confusion, it was hard even for the staunchest of critic, who understood very little about the game, to not understand and appreciate the pressure of that winning FG and respect these absolutely insane guys beating each other up and falling all over the place in sub zero weather, on that snow-covered field. And as it turned out, this goal wasn't worth 1 point, it was worth 3! Patriots win in OT! We won! We won! Man, what an amazing show! Wait.... "we"? What just happened? Like a dangerous woman wearing the red dress, none of the tell-tell signs of incoming heart break really matter and logic goes right out the window. You just go for it. Your initial decision is usually as simple minded as mine was in picking the Patriots. It was enough to get hooked. And hooked I got and watched their amazing run all the way to their Super Bowl win and the ascension of Tom Brady. I had become a fan. It wasn't "they" anymore, it was "we". Unfortunately as with any new infatuation, things get complicated. After the season was over, I wanted more. Living in Carolina, unless you were a football fan already, you probably had little idea that we even had a football team back then. I heard about the Cowboys, the Redskins, the Giants and those guys that seemed to be obsessed with cheese on their heads, but I had no clue we actually had a football team at that time. The Carolina Panthers. Ok, now what? As an ingrained soccer fan, home team loyalty is important. Loyalty to your nation. Your region. Your league. It MATTERS! Football may be the more physical sport, but there's no question about who's got the crazier, most hardcore fans. Yeah, the killing and stabbing of other fans thing might be a bit too much but nevertheless, because of that mentality, as soon as I heard the Carolina Panthers existed, and we had a team in Charlotte, I had to become a fan. Not only is it the main team they televise, but as an ingrained loyalty-driven soccer fan, you just can't not pull for your home team. Which is why I never understood Carolinians that hated the Panthers and pulled for others. Some make sense, like the Cowboys being the old "America's team", or Redskins representing Washington and being their enemy. But what about Steelers fans? What do they have to do with Charlotte? The Panthers may have been a new franchise but it still made no sense to me to pull against your home team. I mean, weren't they afraid of getting mugged and stabbed at games? That is, until I started learning more about football history, its fans and what it meant to tie the knot with the Panthers. Sometimes you feel like killing your own. So I became a Panthers fan for good. I tied the knot with the franchise. And as fate would have it, just 2 years later, my first love and my current ball-in-chain face off in Super Bowl 42. You think it's hard dealing with a Super Bowl loss? Try dealing with that. I pulled for the Panthers, especially since they were the underdogs and the Patriots had already won one. To make things even more complicated, my girlfriend at the time pulled for the Patriots just because she wanted to go against me and I didn't even know who the traitor was. How could I blame her when I was being just as big a hypocrite. For me, even when my team won, I lost and it hurt. And yet even when my team lost, well, I secretly liked it. And despite sex always being such a great picker upper after a loss, I can't say I really enjoyed that "match-up". As with love, I can barely justify any of this rationally and probably never will. And over the years, in my quest for being objective and respecting the best I have acquired even more mistresses. Not only am I going through a rough patch and separation with my home team for the way it's been run lately, but John Fox went to the Broncos, and then came Tebow. Now I kind of like them too. And since I have a natural inclination to always respect and enjoy watching the best in any sports, the teams who set an example, I'm probably going to have even more mistresses. In that sense, I consider myself lucky. Because the Patriots have always been that team ever since I started watching football. They were my first and kept me loyal. As fate would have it a cheating fan also ended up having a team being accused of cheating. And that makes me feel better about the whole thing. And maybe one day the Panthers will figure out consistency and become as dependable as the Patriots and then we'll work out our differences. Unless I move. Then I might have to tie the knot with some other team, and they'll take the spot of an ex wife.