It hasn't always been like this. It really hasn't.
No, I'm not talking about the current political climate. I mean the current sports climate here in our area.
This is particularly relevant because the New England Patriots, who play in little Foxboro (or Foxborough for you traditionalists), are in Houston this week playing in the biggest sporting event in the world - the Super Bowl.
Ho-hum, you may reply. What else is new?
After all, this is the seventh time in the last 16 years they have done so. They've played in the AFC Championship Game for each of the last six years. And when they take the field this Sunday, the Patriots as an organization will set the NFL record for total Super Bowl appearances with nine.
But, it hasn't always been like this.
Sure, you know the history. Formed in 1960, one of the original teams in the old American Football League. Owned by the Sullivan family headed by Billy Sullivan, a smiling Bostonian with more charm than money. Floating from stadium to stadium like homeless wanderers, going so far as to play a home game in Alabama. From Fenway Park to Harvard Stadium, they were the little team that nobody wanted.
Then in the early '70s a theater owner who had some awful-looking land in Foxboro near a dying harness track decided to make an offer. Buy his land, build a stadium, and finally have a place to call home. After all, if Green Bay in Wisconsin could do it, how hard could it be for a place 30 miles outside of Boston?
Hard. It ended up being very hard.
Unlike other places, there was no public financing of a stadium. The result was a horrible structure where watching a game was almost medieval. And frankly, most of the teams that played in it weren't much better.
I went to my first Pats game at Fenway Park in the mid-60s. I went to the first game ever played in the old Sullivan Stadium, an exhibition contest against the Giants. And then my Mom gave me season tickets when I was 16, and I've been going to games ever since.
It hasn't always been like this.
Most of my life, the playoffs were something other teams did. The Patriots being on TV was a rarity. The coaches were the wrong people at the wrong times. Until a certain quarterback came along, the best player in our history was an offensive lineman.
Our owner bankrolled the only unsuccessful tour the Jackson family ever had. Then, the team almost moved to St. Louis. Then, it almost moved to Connecticut. We had one guy owning our stadium, another owning our team, and still others owning the parking lots. We were the joke of the sporting world.
It hasn't always been like this.
Then, the outgoing owner hired Bill Parcells as coach. Bob Kraft took control of the stadium and the team. Kraft eventually hired Bill Belichick. Belichick spent a sixth-round draft choice - the 199th overall pick that year - to take a back-up quarterback from Michigan. A state-of-the-art stadium was built. And the team started winning like no other team in NFL history.
The Patriots became the most celebrated sports franchise in New England. Tom Brady became the greatest player in the history of the league. They set the record for consecutive wins. Belichick turned out to be the greatest coach to ever lead a football team.
The crappy land along Route 1 was developed into a destination shopping and dining venue. The Town of Foxboro today receives many millions of dollars in revenue annually from stadium events and associated property. And four Lombardi trophies reside in Foxboro, with a special spot being reserved for yet another.
And being a Patriots fan today is a matter of pride. There is a Patriot Way, a Patriot Nation. There is a long wait for season tickets.
But it hasn't always been like this.
And it won't always be like this, which is why days like this Sunday are so special for fans like me, and hopefully all of you, as well.
Let's go, Pats. Let's keep it like this for just a little bit longer.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.