Pa­triot Way isn’t so bad af­ter­all

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer To the Point Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca.

Some of you may know my fa­ther when you see him. Oth­ers may rec­og­nize his voice be­fore you rec­og­nize his face.

Rev. Wil­liam Mercer is the clergy at Wes­ley United Church in St. John’s. He has been for 10 years, but prior to that, he spent time in Green’s Har­bour, Har­bour Grace and Old Per­li­can.

In ad­di­tion to that, ev­ery Sun­day he can be heard on VOWR if you so please.

What you may not know about him is that he is a huge football fan. Whether it be Amer­ica’s Na­tional Football League or it’s north­ern cousin the Cana­dian Football League, the Rev loves a good game of pigskin. He does pre­fer the CFL to the NFL, how­ever. He says the game is faster with its three-downs, which for him makes it more en­joy­able.

Grow­ing up in Toronto, the Arg­onauts were the team of choice. He played football at Dan­forth Tech. Don’t ask me which po­si­tion be­cause at 6foot-three inches and over 200 pounds, he was prob­a­bly a terror wher­ever he played. When I was a kid I was in­doc­tri­nated with the school’s football chant and dad tried out for the mi­nor league York Sim­coe Bucks as an un­der­ager.

What does this have to do with any­thing at all?

Well, a cou­ple of months ago he took a hail mary (Get it? It’s a football term and a holy term) in search of football tick­ets. More specif­i­cally, he went look­ing for New Eng­land Pa­triot tick­ets.

He and my mother were plan- ning a trip to celebrate her re­cent re­tire­ment from teach­ing when they cir­cled a Sept. 27 game be­tween the Pa­tri­ots and the Jack­sonville Pa­tri­ots on their cal­en­dars. Un­for­tu­nately, the game was sold out.

Here comes the des­per­a­tion pass look­ing for a late game touch­down. Dad de­cides he is go­ing to email Robert Kraft, the Pats’ owner — OWNER! — di­rectly in hopes of him hav­ing a pair of trea­sured tick­ets stashed away in a safe some­where guarded by sharks with fricken’ lasers on their heads. I mean, don’t all multi-mil­lion­aires have safes like that. Maybe that’s just an evil despot bent on rul­ing the world, who knows?

Rev. Mercer de­tails mother’s re­tire­ment and her love for the Pa­tri­ots in the email. Re­ally she loves Tom Brady and his movie star good looks, but that’s how it goes.

Af­ter press­ing send, he must’ve thought there was no way this is go­ing to work but here it goes any­way. A cou­ple of weeks pass and noth­ing and de­spair is high at the Mercer house­hold in Par­adise.

Then signs of life. An email ar­rives from one of Kraft’s peo­ple. Mr. Kraft has seen the email, usu- ally has a cou­ple of tick­ets squir­relled away and will be in touch later on.

Dad sends a re­turn email with the home num­ber as in­structed. Again, they play the wait­ing game.

Another few weeks come and pass with no re­turn re­sponse. Again, de­spair hits as they start look­ing at al­ter­na­tives. Maybe a visit to Buf­falo and Rex Ryan’s Bills or maybe they’ll ven­ture into the Mo­tor City for a date with the Detroit Lions.

I mean, Lions QB Matthew Stafford was a nice sec­ond op­tion, but he’s no Brady.

As fate would have it, Kraft came through in the clutch. One af­ter­noon, the Gil­lette Sta­dium box of­fice came call­ing. The tick­ets would be wait­ing for them when they ar­rived in Foxborough. They weren’t free, but for an oth­er­wise sold-out game, cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Fast-for­ward a cou­ple of weeks and its game day. The pair ex­pe­ri­ence a NFL tailgate for the first time. There is meat sand­wiches, bar­be­ques, crab claws, wine and plenty of beer.

They didn’t par­take in much of the al­co­hol, if any, but it was read­ily avail­able. Then came the game. “Brady is com­ing onto the field. This is sur­real” was the text from my mom mo­ments be­fore kick-off.

Kraft didn’t have to do what he did. That’s pretty cool of him.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

De­bra Sparkes-Mercer (left) and Rev. Wil­liam Mercer man­aged to get tick­ets to a sold-out New Eng­land Pa­triot games through team owner Robert Kraft af­ter email­ing him on a whim. Here they are at Gil­lette Sta­dium in Foxborough, Mas­sachusetts.

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