Growing up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I am, as we say out West, a “Bronco-maniac” to the core. One of my fondest childhood memories is a memory from 1998 that darn near brings tears to my eyes just thinking about: When John Elway flew through the air for the goal line, putting his body on the line, as the Denver Broncos went on to defeat the Green Bay Packers in Superbowl 32. Two years ago, I couldn’t contain my excitement as the Broncos made the Superbowl, and I was humiliated after they got blown out by the Seattle Seahawks 43-8. When it came to last year’s Superbowl between the Seahawks and the New England Patriots, I was genuinely torn. On one hand, the 43-8 debacle was fresh in my memory, and as a true Broncos fan, I hoped the Seahawks would lose every game they played. On the other hand, the Patriots featured the hated Tom Brady, noted cheater, and Peyton Manning’s arch nemesis. As I arrived at a friend’s place where I watched the game, I was deeply conflicted as to who to root for. Ideally, I would have preferred a tie. I had concluded though, that as the Seahawks had pummeled the Broncos the year before, I simply could not root for them. The Patriots it would be. But then, as the broadcast began, and the television camera zoomed in on Tom Brady’s face, I realized I just couldn’t do. I would not be able to root for the Patriots, no matter how hard I tried.
This year, my life long anti-Patriots policy has held firm. Deflategate didn’t help their cause, but especially as my Broncos are to some extent competing with them for the best record in the AFC, I have a vested interest in them losing every single game.
That was true, until last night. Last night, before I went to sleep, I saw on a late night Facebook post that Bob Kraft decided that Ezra Schwartz zecher kadosh livracha, a life long Patriots fan, would be honored with a moment of silence. This, in front of over 80,000 fans on Monday Night Football.
Sometimes critics of sports mockingly ask, “why should I care about a bunch of large guys running around with a ball? After all, why should I care about them, and invest my time in them when they don’t care about me? This is in fact a good point that I have written about before regarding why I am such an avid Kansas City Royals fan. And in fact, this argument rings true about the Broncos. Why do I care so much about a team, that simply does not care about me? However, this argument simply crumbles to pieces when we are dealing with the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots do care about me, and they care about my People and my Nation, Am Yisroel. When Max Steinberg zecher tzadik l’vracha heroically fell in battle during the most recent Gaza War, sacrificing his life defending the Jewish people, Bob Kraft noticed in the pictures that had been circulating that Max Steinberg wore a Patriots hat. He then went ahead and penned a personal letter to the family saying, “He represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe…On behalf of the entire New England Patriots team, please accept our most sincere condolences.”
And tonight, in front of tens of thousands of people in Foxborough, and millions of telecast viewers watching the game worldwide, Bob Kraft will be making a massive Kiddush Hashem by honoring and commemorating Ezra Schwartz, the lifelong Patriots fan taken from us too soon by the hands of cowardly, murderous, Palestinian terrorists.
Unlike so many thousands of people in the world, among them politicians, actors and academics, Bob Kraft is a man who simply gets it. And this is why as long as Bob Kraft is in charge, I will be rooting for the Patriots every single game they play. And if they don’t win it all, I wouldn’t mind if the Broncos did.