Family Wagers by Timothy Feeney

When I was 9 years old, I noticed my father and stepbrother, who was 15 years older than I was, would have a friendly wager on the Army (stepbrother) vs. Navy (father) game. I asked my stepbrother if I could participate. He said, “nope …but since I live in Florida, I root for the Dolphins now.” (May Don Shula RIP). Instead, my stepbrother said “this weekend the Dolphins play the Patriots on the Sunday game of the Week.” Being 9 years old and living in Reading, Penn., I said, “Where the heck is New England?” He said that the Patriots played in the Boston area. I had begun cheering for the Red Sox so I said, “You’re on. The Pats are my boys!”
The Pats beat the Dolphins, and my brother never paid me the agreed upon wager. Instead, an Army veteran who lived in Massachusetts got a Steve Grogan jersey and had it sent to me! I was hooked. My brother and I connected through the rivalry, good years and bad years. It is a love for this team I have been able to share with my oldest son.
Fast forward to 1996. Pats vs Packers. My son is 5 years old and has the flu. He is lying on the couch watching me cheer for these guys who “remind him of America.” To this day we watch together, attend games together, and share our love of the Patriots together. Since my youth, the Patriots have always meant family. And in 2007, I finally got to meet Steve Grogan during a “Game with Greats” event at Gillette Stadium. I was able to share this story with him – the man whose jersey started it all!!

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