What Real Fans Sound Like When Watching a Patriots Game

by Jennifer Li Shotz
Originally Published: 

They are generally market-based capitalists from matrilineal clans and rely, like many ancient peoples, on an oral tradition passed down through the generations. Elders repeat the phrases of their dialect in ululating tones, expressing increasing levels of distress, by which the younger members of the tribe acquire their language skills.

I have, through the marriage ritual, been provided the opportunity to routinely observe one particular middle-aged Patriots fan watching weekly, seasonal competitions. He is the patriarch of his procreative unit, who asks for nothing—nothing!—beyond one four-hour period per week to himself, between the months of September and January (or early February, if all the proper tribal dances, chants and pleadings to the gods have been properly executed and the team has progressed into post-season play).

On a recent Monday evening, this tribe member participated in the traditional Patriots vs. Jets ceremony, held twice a year. He fulfilled a shamanistic role, his seemingly random series of movements and cries foretelling a future only he could see. (Also, there was no one else in the room but me, and I come from a football-free village, so whom was he talking to?)

For the benefit of future generations and for anthropological purposes, I’ve transcribed here one quarter’s worth of my betrothed’s words, along with my careful observations.

Please note: In an attempt to make the experience less startling and more pleasant for readers, I have replaced the word “fuck” with “pickle,” and the word “shit” with “urchin” throughout.

© Harry How/Getty

Thursday, October 16, 2014: Observing the shaman.

A living room in Brooklyn, NY

(The subject sits on the couch, bouncing his legs in a haphazard, semi-spastic pattern. This seems to provide a soothing effect.)

Checkdown checkdown checkdown.

Turn it upfield. Turn it up.

(Subject throws up his hands, seemingly elated.)

Gronk. Gronktime.

(It is unclear what a “Gronk” is. I note the name.)

Come on, Tommy.

Yeah. Suck on that, Jets.

(The subject casts a sheepish look in my direction, perhaps self-conscious about being watched and recorded. I retreat to a darkened corner of the room.)

Get in the backfield. Goddamnit. Hit somebody.

Don’t just pickling push him. Put your helmet on that man.

(Pounding fist into hand.) Put your pickling helmet (pound) on his chest (pound).

(Subject seeks resolution through violence.)

You’re on your pickling heels.

Also, he’s pickling holding Wilfork.

(Apparently one is not supposed to hold the Wilfork. What one does with a Wilfork will hopefully be elucidated later.)

Get a push on the line. Get inside. Get upfield. Get in the pickling backfield. Get. Get.

(There appear to be many “fields” in this habitat—down, up, back—perhaps these are where one uses a Wilfork.)

Come on, Danny. Do something with it. Do something with it, Danny.

(It is unclear to this observer exactly what role Danny has to play, though I sense he has been a source of disappointment in the past.)

Come on, Tom. Blitz coming. Nice.

(For many years, it has been observed that this figure known as “Tom” is the chosen one, revered above all others—and with a much hotter wife—though that status has lately come into question among tribal elders.)

Get rid of it. There you go, Gronk. Block it. Go outside. What the pickle are you doing? He got out of bounds. Nice, Gronk.

(“Gronk” appears to provide much hope to the subject. Whether he is a fierce warrior or wild creature remains to be seen.)

Come on, Tommy. Aaaaagh. Urchin. Come on, Tommy. Aaaagh. Urchin.

(An incantation?)

That’s bullurchin.

Urchin. Third and long. Not good. Come on, Tommy, you need 10 yards. (Subject stands, begins pacing.) Aaaagh. No, what the pickle are you doing? Aaaagh Jesus Christ. Dipurchin.

(Tom has momentarily fallen out of favor.)


(Very momentarily.)

Defensive. Pass interference. That’s a questionable call, but I’ll take it. What did he do? I don’t even know what he did. Oh, okay. I see.

(Subject seems to be hearing responses to his questions—perhaps he is channeling the gods? Speaking in tongues? Has he ingested a magical herb? Or just bourbon and beer?)

All right. Tom, you got lucky there. How about a pickling run? How about you run the pickling ball up the middle? Give it to Vereen.

(Is he referring to Ben Vereen, Tony-winning star of Pippin in the 1970s? Seems unlikely.)

Get rid of it. Ah, Shane, you pickling missed the urchin out of that block. Ah, come on, that was pickling stupid.

(Subject stands, approaches television. Observer fears, momentarily, for television.)

Jesus pickling Christ. Dumbass. You pickling dumbass. That’s pickling bush league bullurchin. Why the pickle did you hit him after the play was over? “Unsportsmanlike conduct.” Urchin. Nice way to put us out of pickling field goal range, genius.

(Subject defers to intellectual superiority of competitors.)

Yeah, that’s also a pickling penalty right there by the way. Yeah, should have pickling been flagged. Jesus pickling Christ. Yeah, no urchin. Thanks, Nico. Who the pickle are you trying to hit?

Pickling hit him. It has to do with pickling getting inside and pickling hitting somebody.

(Hitting seems to be very important in this culture—again, violent resolution to conflict. Observer is relieved children have gone to bed.)

Stack the box for God’s sake. Get him, get him. Jesus Christ. You have four pickling people there. You can’t tackle him? Get inside and hit him. Thank you.

(Subject has the ability to be polite.)

Break it outside, Danny. Pickle.

(Danny has again disappointed the tribe.)

Ah come on, Shane, turn upfield. What are you doing? Jam him at the line. Three pickling yards man. Come on. Three yards. You can get three pickling yards.

(Subject possesses superior knowledge of strategy, though observer has never witnessed him playing or exerting himself in any comparable fashion. Perhaps he hides his advanced athletic skills so as not to seem too virile, thereby avoiding any unwelcome mating rituals?)

Outside. Outside. Come on. There you go. Come on, Tommy. Come on, Shane. Upfield. There you go.

(Subject rarely expresses a desire to go outside. Odd.)

Nice. Ah, pickle. There you go. Nice. Oh, Jesus. All right. Come on, Tommy. Pick ’em up. Ah, what the pickle was that? Yeah, what happened to the hurry-up? Ah what the pickle. Time out.

Come on, Tommy.

Aaaagh. Pickle.

Yeah, there’s more than one pickling guy on the team. If you throw to the same guy every pickling down, they’re going to cover him.

© Jim Rogash/Getty

(Tribal leadership is being questioned. Tom, who attained his position as tribal head through questionable—some say heartbreaking—means after the previous leader, Chief Bledsoe, sustained an injury, may have fallen irretrievably from grace.)

Let’s get some pickling coverage on this. This is making me very unhappy.

(A rare moment of clarity. Does subject have more sophisticated thought processes than first thought?)

Where are we? Third and five? Okay, put some goddamned pressure on him. Hit him, hit him, hit him. Yes. Boom.

(Never mind.)

That’s insane. They haven’t punted once? Get inside. Come on, defense.

You gotta rattle him. Make him pickling move. Rattle him. Throw a goddamned interception. Jesus Christ. Finally.

(Subject confirms tribe is deistic rather than animistic.)

Come on. Godpicklingdamnit. Why the pickle is he 10 yards in? You need four yards. Yeah, you might want to get the guy on the inside instead of pickling ghosts.

(Mention of ghosts implies belief in afterlife—perhaps as a commentator?)

Where are we? Third and five?

(Subject performs rudimentary math. Is he capable of more complicated equations?)

What the pickle’s his name? Can’t even see the guy he’s supposed to block.


(Subject sits.)


(Subject stands.)

Third and 10. That’s not good.

Stupid ass. If you step up to the pickling pocket, Tom, you gotta look down the field. You can’t throw it three yards. Come on. Like you didn’t pickling see that coming? He’s gonna blitz more? They do that every year. How is that a pickling surprise. Goddammit.

(Use of sarcasm increases in direct proportion to degree of subject’s frustration with Chief Tom. Interesting.)

Oh that would be a penalty wouldn’t it? Tackle Matt Slater? Yeah. There you go. Half the distance to the goal line. Block in the back.

(“Block in the back” sounds painful.)

Come on, Patriots. Pickling aggressive. Let’s get a goddamned turnover. You’re getting pushed backwards. Pickling two yards. Pickling get some penetration, goddammit. Get upfield, get upfield, get in there. Hit him, hit him. Oh, my God.


He was wide open. Holding? He wasn’t pickling near him. How could he hold him? Was he a pickling ghost? Pickle you, Idiot Ref.

(Subject addresses a tribal elder in traditional dress—black and white stripes—as “Idiot Ref.” Subject uses highly disrespectful tone, despite Idiot Ref’s clearly advanced age, which implies greater wisdom in most primitive cultures.)

Oh, Brandon Graham? Go pickle yourself. He didn’t even pickling touch him. He fell over. Oh, you gotta be kidding me. You call that a pickling penalty? Ah, you gotta be pickling urchining me, pickling urchin-ass ref. The third pickling time. Pickle. Bullurchin, man. How about a pickling make-up call since you pickling pooched three pickling calls in a row now? Pickle.

(Idiot Ref is accused of plotting against tribe. Or perhaps of just being a pickling jackass?)

Get inside and pickling hit him. Hit him. Good. There he is. Pickling injured. Stay down. Get in there. Get him. Get him. Get the box. There you go. He’s back. Good. He’s not hurt.

(Subject’s relief that player from opposing tribe isn’t hurt seems false—perhaps for my benefit? Subject sits back down on couch but bounces his legs, frantically this time. This seems to be a decisive moment in the contest?)

Come on, defense. This is the pickling game right here. Get some pickling pressure on him. He’s rattled. He got hit. Hit him. Hit him. Pickle. Nice. Darrelle Revis.

(Though it is not spoken aloud, I sense a silent “bitches” at the end of his sentence.)

Darelle Revis is not to be trifled with.

(Subject’s vocabulary has become more sophisticated.)

All right, come on, block this urchin. Bring it. Bring everyone. Come on, Bill. All right, come on, Tommy. Make him pay. Touch down. Touch down. Touch. Down.

Motherpickler. If someone would catch the pickling football we’d be all set.

(Sarcasm has now fully replaced the usual dialect tones of self-pity and scathing disappointment.)

How about we take a little time off the pickling clock here. Why don’t you run the ball once or twice? There you go, Gronk. Get in the end zone. Nice. Nice. All right, now we run.

(Subject often uses the first-person plural pronoun, though his participation in the competition seems minimal, at best.)

Get over him. Aghhh. Flag? On who? On who? On who? Who the pickle’s the penalty on?

Pickling Brandon LaFell, it’s like every pickling game you get one of those.

(Sing-songy petulant tone has returned.)

Put it in the pickling corner. Get some pickling protection. They couldn’t have made that harder on themselves.


(Unclear what an “Amendola” is, though it carries positive connotations. A benediction of some sort?)

There you go. That’s what they needed.

Get some pressure on him. Make him make a mistake. Make him make a mistake.

Yeah that’s fine if you want to give him the slant. Make him run. Make him go five more yards. You see the pickling pass coming, close and hit it. Don’t hesitate. Pickle.

(Halftime is achieved. Subject collapses onto couch, burying his head in his hands. This observer, exhausted by the draining work of recording subject, puts a few dishes in the dishwasher and goes upstairs to bed.)

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