HAVERHILL—- Some 31 years ago in 1987, Jay Barnes scored two tickets to Bruce Springsteen — the "Boss" himself — at the Boston Garden. 

His brother offered a trade to him. He'd give Barnes eight season tickets to the New England Patriots in exchange for the Springsteen pair. 

Jay accepted. And soon after, "I sat through some miserable, miserable games." 

"As we all know, the Patriots were not a great team back then," said Barnes.

But both time and patience paid off big time for Barnes, a 53-year-old married father from Haverhill and one of the biggest Pats fans around. 

From tailgating to heavily decorating in red, white and blue, even illuminating the front of his home with the Pats symbol, Barnes screams Patriots Nation all the way. 

"I enjoy going to the games and I just love football," he said. 

Barnes was also lucky enough to attend one Super Bowl in 2001 in New Orleans when his season tickets got picked in the lottery. 

He's also assembled a team of 12 to 15 ardent tailgaters who attend all the home games. 

"We can set up in 15 minutes and break down in a half-hour. It's always a great time together with friends," he said.

In 1995, when Barnes married his wife, Linda, the Patriots were also part of their nuptials. The groomsmen wore tuxedo vests emblazoned with the Pats helmet symbol.

And the Pats touchdown song then, "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol, was blasted during their wedding reception. 

Father to Lauren, 20, Barnes is also a football coach. 

Last summer, he led a unified Special Olympics flag-football team to the nationals in Seattle. When they returned, the Patriots invited the flag teams to Gillette Stadium for summer camp, he said. 

Annually, Barnes runs a raffle to raise money for a scholarship program in memory of his son, Christopher, who died in 2009 at age 20. 

The scholarship is for a Haverhill High School graduate who is pursuing a career in special education. 

Barnes raffles off a variety of tickets donated to him, including Patriots' tickets. 

As the week builds up to Super Bowl Sunday, Barnes said he has a good feeling about the Patriots and thinks they appear "very confident." 

"I am feeling good about it," he said. 

Of course, Barnes said he's impressed with quarterback Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, wide receiver. 

However, "I am a huge Gronk fan," he said. "I love a passing game. I love a high-scoring game."

He is also a "big fan" of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family who are devoted to many charitable causes. 

"I love the organization from top to bottom. They do a lot for the community," he said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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