By Mark E. Vogler
---- — METHUEN — Louann Santos loves the New England Patriots so much she’s raising her three children to be among the next generation of the team’s fanatical fans.
Santos’ 5-month-old twins Zachary and Alana aren’t walking and talking yet, but are already being weaned on their mom’s passion for the team.
The tots, along with their 3-year-old brother Jake, will be dressed in Patriots outfits when they sit down in front of the 47-inch flat screen TV in the family room of the Santos home to watch the Pats play the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow night in their AFC Championship showdown. The winner advances to the Super Bowl in two weeks.
“Until they’re old enough to make their own decisions, they will be Patriots fans,” Santos, 35, said. “And if they’re smart, they’ll stay Pats fans.”
“I got it from my dad. He got me into football at a very young age and it’s been passed down to my kids. I remember running around with one of my dad’s Patriots T-shirts. I think I was 6-years-old and it probably went down to my ankle,” she recalled.
Her dad, Louis Ouellette, 66, lives next door and is a frequent guest in the Santos home on game day.
A true blue Patriots marriage
Santos practically owes her marriage to her longtime love affair with the Pats. At least, that’s what drew her husband Greg, a Rhode Island native, and her together. They met through an online computer connection more than a decade ago.
“My screen name was Patriots Girl,” Santos said.
“That interested him and we started talking. That’s how everything started. I drove down to Rhode island to meet him. It was 10 years in July that we had our first date,” she said.
They got engaged at Gillette Stadium during a Pats game and their November 2007 wedding (the year the Pats rolled through a perfect 16-0 regular season) had a Patriots theme. She wore a red, white and blue Pats garter under her wedding dress. Soon after the Super Bowl, they went to Hawaii for their honeymoon to watch the NFL Pro Bowl game.
Game Day has truly become a family affair in the Santos home. Greg prepares a Mexican dip and “an awesome bowl of chilli,” according to Santos.
“I make my famous macaroni and cheese and a calzone,” she said.
“The main ritual; I always have to make sure I have my Tedy Bruschi jersey on before the game starts, and it has to stay on for the entire game,” Santos said.
“I would give anything to meet Tedy. That’s definitely on my bucket list. Wes Welker is my favorite current player,” she said .
Other game day rituals
“We make sure the kids have their Patriots gear on and are ready to go,” Santos said.
“I have to be there at kick-off. I can’t miss kickoff. I get angry when my husband tries to change the channel even if it’s during a commercial. I have to hide the remote control from Greg. I don’t allow him to change the channel because I don’t want to miss a second of the game,” she said.
Anyone who knows Santos knows she wears her Pats pride on her body. When she flashes her finger nails, they reveal “Pats Girl.” She also sports a “Flying Elvis” Patriots tattoo on her left shoulder.
She proclaims her Pats pride on her car too, with a license plate that reads “Pats 12.”
“I pay $75 a year for the vanity Patriots license plate,” Santos said.
“I’ve had them since before the first Super Bowl (victory in 2002) and I haven’t let them go and don’t plan on it either,” she said.
Santos’ passion won her a trip to the 2008 Super Bowl. She was selected from thousands of contestants to appear on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in Hollywood, where she competed for a coveted ticket to the big game.
She was among those Pats fans who watched a heart-breaking loss to the New York Giants, but it was still a Pats fan’s memory of a lifetime.
The Santos home is a gallery of Pats memorabilia, including an aluminum bench from the old Foxboro Stadium.
These days, Santos sets her sights on developing Pats memories for her kids.
When she was eight months pregnant with Jake, she recalled going to a Patriots game
Jake has since been exposed to a lot of Patriots football in his young life. He got a Rob Gronkowski jersey for Christmas and has an assortment of Pats outfits, from pajamas to casual child’s clothes.
“Jake has been watching football since he was born,” Santos said.
The twins are watching plenty of football, too.
“A week after they were born was the Patriots’ first pre-season game,” Santos said.
“I made sure they were right in front of that TV. I made sure they’re not going to miss any games. They each have their own outfits. My husband’s aunt handmade them. And they’ll be dressed and watching the AFC Championship game,” she said.
“Until they fall asleep ... unless we wake them up from screaming and yelling and excitement of the game,” she said.