EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 31, 2008

This Pats fan was there through the good times - and the really bad

By John Basilesco , Staff Writer

WINDHAM - Jim Morgan remembers when the Patriots were the Boston Patriots and they lost more games than they won.

The longtime season ticket holder also remembers names from the past such as Gino Cappelletti and Babe Parilli, and when Harvard Stadium once was the Patriots home field. And Morgan was there to cheer them on.

"I was rooting for the team when they were worse than mediocre," said the 66-year-old local accountant, a former Windham resident who now lives in Rye.

He's had season tickets for about 40 years. Morgan said he never gave up on the team despite some dismal years. His allegiance makes the team's great success in recent years very rewarding, he said.

"He's a fan like you can't even imagine," said daughter-in-law Julie Morgan, who lives in Windham. "He schedules his whole life around the Patriots' schedule. He goes to every playoff game. He was there at Gillette Stadium in the freezing cold when the Patriots defeated San Diego."

His enthusiasm is apparently catching.

"He's very committed to the Patriots," Julie Morgan said. "It's something that involves the whole family, all the time. His wife, Connie, originally wasn't a fan. Now, she, too, has got the bug and works around the Patriots."

After braving the frigid cold with family members for the American Football Conference championship, Morgan will travel to Delray Beach, Fla., not Arizona, to watch Sunday's Super Bowl game on television with a close friend.

Tomorrow, he will head to his winter home in Boca Raton to get ready for the game. And, as is his custom, he will dress for the game Sunday - in sneakers, pants and a shirt, all with Patriots colors and logos.

Tom Brady, the team's heralded quarterback, is by far Morgan's favorite player.

But Morgan still has a fresh memory of his apprehension when Brady, who was untested at the time, came into a game after starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the 2001 season.

Any doubts Morgan or anyone else had were quickly dispelled as Brady went on to lead the team on a Super Bowl run, and Bledsoe never regained his starting role.

"He performed well, but we all had a heart attack because we didn't think he would," Morgan said. "No one thought he would be so good."

"Now, it's 'in Brady we trust,"' Morgan said. "He's a class act. He's the best I've ever seen, on our side or the other side."

He credits Patriots owner Bob Kraft with doing a great job in turning the team around.

Morgan said he doesn't go to as many Patriots games as he used to because he doesn't like sitting in the cold. But he never misses a game on television. He enjoys tailgating before the games with relatives, including his 16-year-old grandson, Jimmy Morgan, a student at Salem High School, and wife, Connie.

With tax season getting underway, the accountant has to work a little harder to carve out the time he needs to follow the team, but he makes sure he does.