Patriots' Body Art: A letter to Collin

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Dear Collin,

You don’t know me, but I am a friend of your Father’s – not like a close, personal friend, because I have never met him, though I hope to someday soon…I know him through social media, I know him through pictures that he shares with the world, through his words, through his passions…

…and it is of the passions that I wish to speak with you.

Because you changed your father’s life – you are the most important thing in his life.  When people look at Brad Stevens and sees your name in huge lettering on his shoulder, they know this without ever meeting you – but perhaps they more know more about him, because when a person gets a tattoo, it’s never capricious, never an ambiguous plan – it’s always about something that means much to the person.

So when you were born, your father wanted to do something to commemorate the reality and sheer adrenalin-driven intensity of the moment, something that he couldn’t let slip by unnoticed by time – and it had to be something on a grand scale – nothing cheap looking or average in any way.

It had to be something that could never be packed away in a box, tucked away in a scrapbook or left to gather dust on a high shelf – something that could never be lost or stolen – and it had be to something that screamed out to everyone, “This is my son!”…because your father is a man that wears his emotions on his sleeves…both figuratively and literally.

And the fact that your name appears in a football helmet on his shoulder was not an arbitrary choice, because before that moment of your birth his only real passion was football…and all around that helmet are three logos that represent everything to a person as passionate about football as he is, those three representing championships won.

The signature moment in his life – your birth – happened within minutes of his heroes, the New England Patriots, raising a World Championship trophy…it may have been the first sound you ever heard on this earth was the monotone droll of Bill Belichick holding the trophy but still jabbering in coach-speak about how to go about his next conquest – never complacent, never satisfied but always appreciative…

He played in school, your Dad, and from experience I know that being part of a team, sharing desires and pain as well as joy is something that gets in your blood and in your brain, it teaches you life lessons and brings you an extension of your family that you never knew existed.

To him, it’s not just football.  It’s so much like everyday life, it’s failures and successes, it’s drama, that it is life…and a certain brand of football called the Patriot Way – played by a team whose foundation is set on stone, found not only in the very roots of human ideals – the knowledge of which comes with age and wisdom – but also in things as simple and familiar as a nursery rhyme.

A brand of football that echos the sentiments of every loving father, that envision their sons to live their lives a certain way, in a manner that represents hard work and harder play – to ensure that you have performed your responsibilities with due diligence, prepared for your task with all of your focus, to care for yourself in a manner that promotes good health and to tie all of these things together so that when the task comes at hand, you can enjoy, have fun and be successful, knowing that these are the fruits of your labor.

To do things a certain way, to know that champions pay the price, and that the game of life, as in the game of football, is either won or lost before even taking the field of battle.

To live the Patriot Way is to live as though your conscience is your only witness, to always do what you feel is right, to trust what you’ve been taught as instinct, to ask yourself, “Am I satisfied?” and to know that there is no positive answer to that question, because the Patriots Way is to take pride in your accomplishments and use them as a bar that one is constantly striving to improve upon.

But most of all, it is to know that you’ve earned what you have, something to be very proud of indeed.

He talks of taking you to football games.  Right now, he gets single tickets and goes by himself , but he is aching to share his veneration for these players with you – to have you there, setting up his tailgating equipment together, breaking out the grill, laying out the food, watching the lot fill up with people wearing the home blues, some in the away whites and still others in the red throwbacks of your grandfather’s era…

…the sense of camaraderie and family can not be ignored, nor can the unique sights and smells…and these are all people of passion who relish the same brand of football that your father shares with both you and the world.  The game itself?  Believe it or not, it’s the scene, its the atmosphere and the knowledge that your team can not be beaten, no matter the score…

A brand of football whose history – whose present – is told on your father’s arms…the future?  Well that’s where there is just skin at the moment.

Look at the art on his arms, it all means something to him.  Tedy Bruschi, former linebacker for the Patriots is on there, so is Tom Brady and all three logos from the Super Bowls that they won together; there is the Lombardi Trophy, the shield and many other tattoos that individually  mean something to him, and collectively, along with your helmet, tells a compelling story Brad Stevens’ life…

…and he’s not done.  He hopes to have at least a few more logos added to his collection, though he is running out of room on his arms – but as long as the Patriots organization continues to set the standard by what every other team is measured, the collection will continue to grow…

…as does his pride and love for you, and he will always wear the proof of that as a badge of honor – because it is an honor, a blessing, to have someone to call “Son”…

Sincerely,

A friend

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