Deval Patrick weighs in on New England Patriots’ chances against Denver Broncos

There was a tense moment at an otherwise routine press conference today at the State House in which Governor Deval Patrick thanked outgoing Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein and introduced his new choice, Rachel Kaprielian, the former motor vehicle registrar and state representative.

After the announcement, Patrick swatted easy questions about early voting and a new documentary on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

What introduced the drama — what still makes Patrick aides tense, more than seven years into his tenure — was a sports question. Typically a light moment in political press conferences, the sports question has grown into something of a “gotcha” when posed to Patrick. He has struggled to name favorite Red Sox players and tripped over the name of Sox captain Jason Varitek at a celebration of the 2007 World Series.

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The governor, an avid follower of the arts, is just not a big sports fan.

But that was not in evidence today.

When asked his thoughts on Sunday’s AFC Championship game, Patrick gamely pumped his fist and enthused, “Go Pats!”

Patrick said he hoped to watch the game – correctly identifying both the day of the game and the Patriots’ opponent – if authorship of Tuesday’s State of the Commonwealth permitted.

“Everybody’s focused on it. It’s exciting,” he said.

He evinced sanguinity about the Patriots’ chances not shared by Las Vegas oddsmakers, who have pegged them to lose by nearly a touchdown. And he said there would be none of those political cornball bets between him and his Colorado counterpart, fellow Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper.

“We’re going to save that for the Super Bowl,” Patrick quipped.