It’s happened before.
In the first New England Patriots game after Sept. 11, 2001, Boston fans honored those from the New York Jets.
Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi brought his three brothers, all New York City firefighters. The siblings carried an oversized U.S. flag onto the field at Foxboro Stadium in honor of the victims of the terrorist attack.
“(Owner) Robert Kraft would joke about how, in his memory, it was the only time he could remember Boston fans rooting for New Yorkers,” Patriots’ spokesman Stacey James said yesterday.
It is those memories which often stick in sports fans’ minds following tragic events.
“In 2001, I just remember when the Patriots came back,” said Marc Sapienza, 22, of Derry, who was walking down Crystal Avenue yesterday. “After a tragedy, an arena is the only place where a lot of people can go to really appreciate a city. To hear the roar of the crowd makes you feel like no one can stop us.”
It allows people the opportunity to turn the page and start to move on.
“I think it makes people feel a little more safe and in some ways it brings it back to normalcy,” said Collins, the UNH professor. “There is understanding and heartache, but at the same time, sports can bring you back to a normal behavior on Wednesday night. It helps you forget about tragedy for a short period of time. Everyone can take that thought and focus just for a couple hours on good things.”