Squish The Fish and Fly Home by Paul Arsenault

I have two stories for you. The first was more of a big deal to me while the second one might be a bit more entertaining.
The first one is the Snow Bowl in January of 2002. The snow, the tuck rule, (making up for the horrendous roughing the passer call against Sugar Bear Hamilton back in the 1976 playoff game vs. the Raiders), Adam Vinatieri’s kicks. This was the last game to be played at Foxboro Stadium. I stayed in my seat for probably a half an hour after the game ended. I was just taking it all in, as I had just completed my 20th season as a season ticket holder. The game also fell on my birthday – January 19.
The second is the Squish the Fish game – the 1985 (January of 1986) AFC Championship win in Miami. It all starts with Don Shula. Ordinarily, visitor seats are in the end zone nose bleed area, but not for this game. Don Shula allegedly ordered that no two Patriot fans may sit together. So, we were all scattered all over the stadium. In the third quarter when the game really started to turn into the Patriots favor, the Dolphin fans got quiet. The spread-out Pats fans really started making our presence known from all over. The Patriots closed it out with a 31-14 win that broke the jinx – the team’s 18-game losing streak at the Orange Bowl. The Pats had won their first AFC Championship by winning three straight road playoff games.
There were five of us that made that trip to Miami, and we had to leave the stadium right away to make our flight home. We had no time to celebrate. When we got to the airport, we found out our flight was delayed by four hours. We were told to go wait in a lounge area. On the way, we passed a large corridor to our left that was all blacked out. We kept going to the next corridor, which was lit on our left and we walked down to a large lounge area easily large enough to accommodate a flight full of very happy Pats fans. About 30 minutes into our celebration, one of our friends tells Greg (the guy holding the trophy in the photo) and I (white jersey) that he thought he had just seen Craig James.
Without a word, Greg and I headed for that dark corridor (The Patriots had to fly out of here too). So we headed to the end of that dark corridor, which turned into an equally large lounge. Steve Grogan, Craig James and Coach Raymond Berry were the first three I people I saw. I tried to congratulate Steve, but he would have none of it. He was generally grateful to US for having made the trip to Miami and he told us that the team could hear us and that we inspired them to play even harder. The whole team was in that lounge – all the coaches, players, and Billy and Pat Sullivan. Their flight was delayed 2 hours. Pat Sullivan had the Lamar Hunt trophy; he gave it to us and we each had a turn holding it, then took out our camera and took the picture included. Eventually the plane load of Pats fans found out what was going on, and joined us, and we all partied with the whole team hours after they had just won the biggest game in team history.

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