There are so many memories over the years dating back to when I covered the team for Patriots Football Weekly through my time working at The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon Technologies. From quietly pumping my fist in the Louisiana Superdome press box when Adam Vinatieri’s kick split the uprights to win Super Bowl XXXVI to standing behind the end zone in the snow next to a colleague watching the review of the Tuck Rule play in the Snow Bowl to many more recent memories. It’s hard to choose just one. I have had the fortunate experience to have some different perspectives on certain moments. So I will choose this story: The Patriots needed some things to happen over the last three weeks of the season to earn a first-round bye in the 2001 playoffs. Our illustrious Patriots Football Weekly leader – eternal optimist Fred Kirsch — strongly believed it would all fall into place and he was insistent to the point of annoyance. Through the first two of the three weeks, though, everything had indeed fallen into place, which we were all glad about but also had to endure the “I told you sos” from Fred. So when the Patriots thumped Carolina in the final regular season game to win the AFC East, they needed a Jets win at Oakland to earn a bye. The Patriots had won a 1 p.m. game, and we were on the team plane traveling back from Carolina while the Jets and Raiders played on the West Coast. A couple people had small hand-held TVs – I think we used to call those Sony Watchmans or something. Small screen. WBCN’s radio stats guy, Roger Homan, had one, and way up front, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis had one. But they were fuzzy at 35,000 feet. Reception wasn’t very good at that altitude. So when Roger declared the game over with an Oakland win, Paul Perillo and I began examining playoff scenarios because back then, there was still a Monday night game in the final week and I believe the Ravens played the next night; that game would impact our Wild Card opponent. But after Roger’s announcement, Fred stated loudly, “It can’t be over! That’s not the way it was written!” We were all like, “yeah, whatever Fred… give it up.” Then seconds later, Roger says, “No wait a minute…. [Jets kicker] John Hall is lining up for a 53-yard field goal to win it. “Wait! What? You said it was over.” With that, Homan and Weis were both standing in the aisle. “It’s GOOOOOD!!!!!” The whole plane erupted in cheers from front to back and coaches to staff to players. It was a surreal moment and a special one. We all know what happened after that. Tuck Rule. Snow Bowl win to close out Foxboro Stadium. Two special teams TDs and Drew Bledsoe’s return in Pittsburgh and the upset of the Greatest Show on Turf to win the team’s first ever Super Bowl title. I am lucky to have had that vantage point to see it all. And yes, Fred was right all along. Thankfully.
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