I was sitting on my couch at home Sunday night, my belly stuffed with nachos and Bud Light, as Tom Brady lead the team to a comeback that would’ve been rejected as implausible were it a Hollywood script.

As soon as James White plunged into the end zone in overtime, I lost it.

“Are you crying?” my wife asked, nudging me from my reverie.

“I think so,” I said.

In most cases, it would be emasculating—although it really shouldn’t be—for a man, a husband and a father, to openly weep in front of his wife and two middle-school children. However, I couldn’t hold it back, and I wasn’t quite sure why it was happening.

But I’ve had some time to reflect now, and here’s what I’ve determined.

I cried because I was tired. I was tired of Deflategate, tired of listening to all the armchair quarterbacks bloviate about how the Patriots hadn’t played anyone and how Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are overrated and racist (that DB Bill Maher, particularly) for supporting Trump.

I cried because I can’t stand the rhetoric anymore, the conflation of politics and professional sports. I’m an unrepentant New England liberal with my own concerns about the new president, but can’t a guy enjoy a game without it becoming a talking point for cable news?

I cried because I’m a marshmallow, and when I saw the picture of Tom Brady and his mother with her headscarf, it touched me on a basic human level. The relationship between a mother and her son is sacred, whether you’re a jamoke like me or the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

I cried because I remember October 25, 1986, when I was 12 years old and my father woke me up to watch the Red Sox win the World Series. I cried that night, too.

I cried because my own son was watching the Patriots cap one of the greatest comebacks in history with me, and the boy will never know it was like to be a New England sports’ fan—save the Celtics—in the 70s, 80s or 90s. Good.

I cried because, like most New England sports fans over 40 years old, I remember all too vividly what it was like before this 16-year run of championships, this abundance of riches in our six-state little corner of the universe.

Most of all, I cried because I was proud of this place where I’ve grown up and lived my entire life, where I’ve worked as teacher and started my own family. While the rest of nation hates on us, we—in New England—the place where the first shots were fired in the war for our independence, have a strange solidarity. It’s not a utopia; it’s not perfect. But it is my home.

I cried when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, and I’m not ashamed to say it.

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Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His most recent books include Hangover Breakfasts, a collection of short prose pieces (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), a novella titled Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and his new and selected poems titled My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com

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