They Truly Are Patriots

David Balkin
January 13, 2002 at 9:26 pm ET

Okay Pats fans, ever wonder where the Patriot’s name came from? The sterile history on Patriot’s official website cites a “name the team” contest where 74 votes carried the day. Until now I never knew there was an official count but one of those 74 votes was mine. Hey, I’m in a club more exclusive than the U.S. Senate. That’s a big deal. Have I missed any meetings?

Actually, John Gilooley a sports writer for the Boston Record came up with the name and wrote several passionate columns about Patriots being the best name in all of team sports. I read every word. He made a compelling argument and 41 years later it still rings true.

Boston’s loftiest moments came from its patriots and living in the cradle of liberty we had no other choice. It was more than our civic duty to name this team after Boston’s and our nation’s greatest heroes, it was an honor.

There was no official ballot. I just sent my vote to the newspaper. Out of thousands of ballots, 74 votes doesn’t exactly sound like a landslide but this was mucho multiple choice.

And if Gilooley was doing the counting his could have been the other 73.

I was born and raised in Boston at a time when sports franchises didn’t get mailed from city to city. It was a strange feeling to have a new team. Where was the sports lore of bye gone glories? Those were our salvation; to fall back upon and dream, when present day versions were hopeless. Let’s be real, without dreaming the Red Sox wouldn’t have any fans.

But when this major sports team burst on the scene they came with something better than history, they came with a cause. AFL vs. NFL was good vs. evil. Growing up without a local pro football team I resented the NFL and my favorite team became the Cleveland Browns because they were the newest team in the NFL, coming from a weak league that was supposed to be joke.

I read about them in the all-America Professional Conference where they won 4 titles in the league’s 4 seasons. In the NFL the Browns turned out to be the underdog from hell winning the NFL championship in their first year, going 58-13 in their first 6 NFL seasons, winning 2 more titles and playing in all 6 title games.

The Pats came along ten years later, I was a junior at Boston U. and had learned in history courses that the past mirrors the future. It was crystal clear the AFL was the all-America Conference revisited only with stronger ownership, a television contract and good players. The NFL was once again saying our teams couldn’t compete but wouldn’t play us. I hate that.

These were desperate times because I actually rooted for the New York Jets in Super Bowl 3. If I were Catholic I’d confess that sin to my dying day. Nothing personal, but I’ve always hated New York sports teams and their fans. Probably wouldn’t like their dogs either.

Enough history. This Patriot team is the most special we’ve ever had. In this realm of powerful giants and lightening fast gazelles this team succeeds because of its blue collar work ethic and unparalled unity. It’s a throwback to their namesakes who carved out our great nation against impossible odds.

On each other’s shoulders our Patriots stand as tall as any team and 3 men have made the extra difference that commands victory.

Drew Bledsoe is the best. He’s a quarterback coach without equal who’s cloned himself out of a job. Brady deserves to play but Drew is the team’s best quarterback.

Bob Kraft’s number two on my list. Kraft named Bledsoe the most outstanding young man he’s ever met. Look in the mirror Bob, that’s a reflection from the top.

Bill Belichick rounds out the podium. Good coaches take different paths to branding their team. Bill’s quiet public demeanor, in the most flamboyant of worlds, is more than a refreshing change, it’s a persona of a hard working professional, a tireless craftsman whose confidence comes from the knowledge that his final product will be the measure of his worth.

Boy am I glad the Jets lost. Bring on the Raiders. The Patriots are ready. Patriots are always ready.



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