The date is Sept. 23, 2001. Week two, game two. Drew Bledsoe and his New England Patriots are lined up on their own 21-yard line for another third and 10 situation. The center snaps the ball and, seeing no open teammates down field, Bledsoe sprints for the sideline, but not before Jets linebacker Mo Lewis lays what would be a career ending hit on the New England quarterback. With Bledsoe’s lungs rapidly filling with blood, he was rushed to the hospital, leaving the fate of the game in the hands of a young sixth-round back up quarterback named Tom Brady. I was 4 years old.

This moment changed the future of Patriots football forever. We’ve entered the era of TB12, and ever since that fateful game in 2001, the Patriots have done nothing but shatter records and collect trophies. After Brady took over, the Patriots went from a good team to an almost unstoppable team, growing hungrier for championships with every coming year. But even more unstoppable than Tom Brady himself, was the overwhelming intensity of his fan base.

For those growing up during the TB12 era, game day mentality quickly went from “they won” to “we won” and wins became expected. People have become so invested in the success of the Patriots that many fans have convinced themselves that their at home superstitions somehow have an affect on the outcome of the game. If someone gets up to get something from the kitchen mid game and Brady throws a pass for a touchdown, it’s automatically assumed that because that person left the room the team’s luck was changed and somehow caused the Patriots to score. Therefore, that person must remain in the kitchen until there is another shift in luck because it’s just not worth risking a Patriots’ loss.

If it isn’t about seating arrangements, it’s about a lucky article of clothing. Ask any Patriots fan if they have a lucky piece of clothing and nine out of 10 people will say yes. Whether it be a hat you were wearing during the Super Bowl in 2001 or a jersey you refuse to wash because they’ve won five games in a row while you wore it, luck matters to these fans and they aren’t willing to risk a loss to prove otherwise.

Another thing about fans growing up during the Tom Brady era is that they don’t know how to lose. And when I say “don’t know how to lose,” I mean losing isn’t in their vocabulary, so when the Patriots happen to lose they are simply at a loss for words.

Some fans respond to a loss by blaming the other team while others simply pretend it never happened. However, the most common response to a loss is merely to cancel the following day. Professors at my university reportedly get emails that students won’t be in class, and people call out of work sick, all to mourn the loss of their favorite football team.

The most essential part of being a Patriots fan during the era of the greatest of all time (GOAT) is believing in the team with every fiber of your being. These people are not bandwagon fans catching an occasional game or two, hoping for a win, but unaffected by a loss. There is no doubt in their minds that any shred of “Deflate Gate” was true. There is no option other than winning. And no team better than the Pats.

Although they may be a little crazy at times, you will never meet a more loyal fan base than the fans of Tom Brady. There’s a reason we say “in Brady we trust” under our breath throughout the whole game. Our steadfast faith is due to a pure love of the team and the guy known as the GOAT.

Mikaela Dionne is a senior at Salem State University majoring in English. She resides in Salem and is a die-hard fan of the New England Patriots.

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