You see that little picture of me smiling up above? That's me about four years ago on the sidelines of Gillette Stadium. Yes, I'm a Patriots fan. For those of you from New England, I offer a hearty "Go Pats! Tommy is the GOAT!" For the rest of the world that hates my favorite team, I get it. I'm sorry. We're insufferable, you think they cheat. They win too much, they're annoying. I've heard it all. I hope we can still be friends.
Any way, there's a story behind that picture and I figured it'd be a fun way to try out the Blog feature here. One of my father's best friends is a snowbird, like my folks, and they live in an RV park down in Key Largo during the winter. He spends much of his week in Key Largo and then jets off to wherever ESPN is shooting Monday Night Football where he runs one of those cameras that rolls on a crane-like thing on the sideline. He's got a cool gig, and he likes it a lot. The thing is about those rigs is that they're tethered with long electrical cords, and someone has to lug them up and down the field. Most of the time you're standing around, but on kicking plays and long runs or throws, you haul butt just like the guy with the ball, just not nearly as fast.
The guys that haul those wires around are hired for the day as per diem workers, and he offered the gig to me, my dad, and another one of dad's friends, when the Pats were hosting the Eagles for a random late August preseason game. I couldn't tell you anything about the game. It didn't matter, but it was fun to be on the field and right behind the New England bench. I almost got run over by Gronk, who was not playing but in uniform. I was doing my job and he was meandering around. He smiled at me with that big goofy Gronk grin.
The other thing I remember about that day is how tired I was. I'm in okay shape. I could lose 10-20 pounds, but I'm not a slob by any means. My dad and his buddy are in okay shape, too, but at the time they were both in their mid-60s. When they took the job for the day they were told it was easy work and that they'd have fun. They didn't expect to have to run sprints up and down the field.
And they rarely did. Guess who got stuck doing all of the running around? Yup, me. It was one of the best workouts that I've had in ages. My father is a great guy, one of my favorite people in the world, but somehow he's not a very big sports fan. He liked being around the action and the crowd, but he's hardly a diehard. He just had fun taking it all in, which he could afford to do because I was hauling my butt up and down the yard lines.
When the game was over we collected our checks. I think we got like $75, it might have been $50. It wasn't worth getting excited about. We jumped into his SUV and began the 80-minute ride home from Foxboro to Falmouth. He started to make conversation, talking about all of the sights and sounds, while I chugged down a couple of bottles of water (Oh, did I mention it was late August and humid?). I fell asleep before we hit Route 95 South. I woke up as we crossed the Bourne Bridge and saw the words "Cape Cod" cut into the hedges that sit in the middle of the rotary.
I guess that's a long way of getting to the point that that image has always been an important one to me. It's always meant that wherever I've been, be it Boston for the day, a semester down in Virginia, on assignment or vacation, when I see "Cape Cod" in the hedges I am home. I made sure that it found its way into "Season On The Brink" because I'm a Cape Codder, no matter where my travels take me, and that vision never fails to make me happy.