If you see Ellis Hobbs kicking back somewhere this weekend, give him a hug. Hope he hugs you back.
It will be the first wrap he's had on someone in a while.
Did you see that Sunday, those thousands of frauds who call themselves Patriots “fans” deserting the boys when they needed them most? Twenty-one straight regular-season victories, and this was the thanks they get, frustration from paying customers, most of whom could have taken the family on a weekend jaunt to Aruba considering what they spent on tickets, parking, concessions, and funds for the swear jar after Ronnie Brown threw a touchdown pass.
"It amazes me, amazes me, how people react,” Hobbs said after the fans dared to boo their team’s effort in a 25-point loss to the Miami Dolphins. “You would think that this organization hasn't won as much as they've won and hasn't been successful in the years that they have.”
Hey, Ellis. Keith Foulke on Line 2.
This is not about supporting venom of unnecessary worth in a society already too bogged down by anger and violent instincts. But really, why does this continue to be a hot topic of sporting discussion? Fans boo. They’ve booed for hundreds of years. Gladiators were booed. Mixed martial arts fighters are booed. Quidditch broomers will be booed one day. It is the way it always was, and the way it always will be.
So why exactly do we need to turn this into a debate over the two-faced nature of local, paying customers? Don’t they inherently have that right? To launch into some hackneyed soliloquy about the moral dilemma involved just seems silly.
Let’s play out the day, shall we, of one hypothetical Pats fan:
7 a.m. Rouses the wife and kids from their Manchester, NH home in order to hit the road for game day. Grabs the four tickets he purchased on StubHub for only $800.
8 a.m.Fills gas tank to the tune of $65.
9 a.m. Traffic on Route 1.
10 a.m. Kids are whining they have to walk a mile, but can’t pass up the $40 parking.
11:30 a.m. Decide to make way into the stadium.
Noon Standing in line at the gate, with father, mother, 14-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son, and thousands of sloshed, swearing others wearing Pats gear.
1 p.m. Standing in line at the gate, wondering if they’ll make kickoff.
1:30 p.m. Seats. Pats are down 7-0. Son wants a hot dog. Daughter wants cotton candy. Mom and Dad need a beer.
1:45 p.m. Lunch for the family, $52.35. Dolphins take a 14-3 lead.
2:20 p.m. Halftime. Patriots down 21-6. Kids need to use the bathroom. Son nearly trampled by thousands of sloshed, swearing people wearing Pats gear
3 p.m. Another beer for Mom and Dad, soda for the kids, $22.
3:30 p.m. 38-13, Dolphins. Kids want to go to Circuit City. Mom wouldn’t mind checking out Christmas Tree Shop.
5 p.m. Sitting in traffic on Route 1.
7:30 p.m. More than $1,000 later, home.
That sounds awesome. Yet we all put ourselves through some level of it for eight weeks every fall.
You can understand why Hobbs would be upset, and why some ungrateful fans should be in the crosshairs this week. All Hobbs had to do after the game was collect a check for running around the field like Scott Bakula, having just leapt into unknown territory. But the evil fans gave him something to stew about. They booed him and his teammates. The horror.
If there are indeed rules to booing, I’d say they begin and end with not booing kids. You don’t show up to a Pop Warner game and start jeering little Tommy because he muffed the kick. People do, however, and this really is where we should be discussing the morality of it all. Booing at professional sporting event? Anyone who takes umbrage with it obviously has not dealt with everything that a sports fan is asked to these days.
It’s not just about the money, but all the other oversights that come with it. Let’s take the Patriots, for instance. Sure, they deliver a superior product on the field, yet the fan experience continues to be dreadful. Remember all that infrastructure work done on Route 1 when the new Gillette Stadium was born? Was supposed to help traffic flow on the notoriously backed-up road? Worked for a nice time. Until the Krafts decided to bulldoze thousands of parking spaced in lieu of retail goodness. Now, seems we’re almost back at square one in terms of what it takes to get to a game, with all the familiar frustration.
All those headaches seem lesser when you’re watching the Patriots win, or even when you watch them lose a close, competitive game. But when you combine all that it takes in money, time commitment, and aggravation to go to a game, only to watch a lackluster effort on both sides of the ball, well, forgive me if I think the fans should be allowed to voice their displeasure in some way. At least it’s more effective than dropping off a comment card on your way out. “Check the box that most describes your satisfaction level.”
But these Patriots, heck, professional athletes in general are not used to being booed, always told of their greatness from high school to present day. It never fails, the bigger the ego gets in an athlete, the thinner the skin, as if one can not grow without the other’s demise.
That’s why Hobbs, Benjamin Watson, and anybody else emotionally affected by your desertion on Sunday needs a chin up this bye weekend. And when they’re back in a few weeks, in front of a sellout, adoring crowd at Gillette Stadium, the message is now clear: No booing. Because despite all you’ve gone through to get there, win or lose, it’s your obligation, apparently, to show an undying love for your team, no matter the effort, no matter the cost.
Remember, they’re here for you, I guess. As if they would have anything to do if you didn’t decide to show up in the first place.