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Jerry Ballgame returns to talk about the Pats, and some women’s field hockey action.

On Sunday, November 18, as I and other members of the ‘Ballgame Family” was making our way to Gillette Stadium to take in my first live professional football game; the Tufts University field hockey team was in Geneva, N.Y. winning that school’s first championship for a women’s team. (Men’s lacrosse had won the 2010 title.) What may seem like a relatively random reference to you, was a meaningful event for us, as one of the younger  ‘Ballgames’ was once upon a time the starting goalie for that team, and an important part of the winning tradition that Coach Tina McDavitt (124-36) has established at Tufts.

Although my daughter’s team did not make it to the NCAA Tournament her senior season (they lost out to a Williams College team that the selection committee chose even though they -Williams- had already stopped practicing), she was part of the foundation of a very succesful program. Coach Tina has always been appreciative of that and never fails to make my daughter- and us- feel very welcomed whenever we return to the Medford, MA campus. So as you can imagine, we are very happy for Coach McDavitt (B.U. 2000) and just want to say one more time, “Well done,, Jumbos!”


Edelman during his monster punt return against the colts, with Jerry Ballgame in the house. (Getty Images)

It may come as to a surprise to you that even though I’ve seen ‘Uncle Ted’ play at Fenway, and Cousy, Russell, and Orr play at the “old Garden”, I’ve never actually seen the Pats play live. I’ve been to Foxboro on a variety of occasions, to see MLS games,  Springsteen in concert, actually ran in a couple of marathons there, but never to see the Patriots. So you can understand why I jumped at the opportunity to watch in person TB-12 and the Pats take on their old rival in the Colts with their rookie quarterback sensation, Andrew Luck. I was also just plain curious, as it seems like there has been a great deal of debate of late about the stadium experience versus the at home experience (or your friendly neighborhood Boston Bar experience) and came away feeling that being there offers a totally unique perspective.

It didn’t exactly start out that way, as the Colts had a 14-7  first quarter lead and didn’t seem to have any trouble at all moving the football. In fact, I commented to one of my fellow fans that the defense looked even worse in person then they did on TV. Of course, at that point the Colts punter Pat McAfee cut loose with a long, low one that led to a 68 yard punt return by Julian Edelman, and just like that, the crowd was back into it. What was great about being there was that you knew right away there was the potential for a lengthy return. Because the kick was so low, there wasn’t a white uniform within 15 yards of Edelman, and with a few moves he’d be gone. That’s not something that you can pick up on from most television camera angles.

A few moments later, Aqib Talib had his interception. Being there,  seeing the field,  you could appreciate how he was setting up his blocking and you knew exactly when the 6 points was a sure thing, and that the Pats would have a 21-14 lead. At home I’m sure you could assume that the “mighty mo” had switched to the home team,  but at the stadium you could feel it. Furthermore, being in the stands, you could see running plays develop and recognize instantly, which plays were going to work and which ones would be stopped. Perhaps the thing I enjoyed the most about being there was the freedom to focus in on who I wanted to. Vince Wilfork is a family favorite, so on several plays I would exclusively watch him as he would consistently occupy at least two offensive linemen, making it easier for the linebackers to be more effective.

All in all it was a great experience, aided significantly by the company and the fact that they won. But, man, do I hate those TV time outs! If you see Springsteen in concert, you can count on three and half hours of constant action and entertainment. I realize that TV pays the bills, but I still think that the NFL could learn soemthing from “The Boss”. Even if he is a Giants fan…

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About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.