"Dad, I'm freezing!" Robbie was cold, hungry and weary after two hours of waiting as the crowds thickened on Boston's Boylston Street. His sneakers had been marinating in slush and street sewage for two hours. His socks looked like the nasty grey rag left the bottom of an industrial sink.
"Dad," he grumbled, "I can't feel my feet!"
Yes, Robbie was complaining, and loudly. But this kid and his dad weren't about to give up. Of course not. The Patriots hadn't given up – even when they were down by 25 last Sunday. Just when almost everyone had given up, the turbocharged team turned it around in a miraculous surge and scored a historic victory, winning their fifth Super Bowl.
Eight-year-old Robbie and I joined a record one million ecstatic fans in Boston on Tuesday to celebrate the Pats' return with the Lombardi Trophy. Just before noon, the iconic yellow duck boats started to roll by and the crowd began to roar. In the first boat was Robert Kraft, team owner, hoisting the silver trophy. Then came the players.
I hoisted the 65-pound lad on my shoulders so he could get a better view. "Do your job!" I yelled, echoing the mantra of Pats Coach Bill Belichick. Robbie took the cue, waving and howling like a banshee.
Maybe it was my son's bright red hair – or his ear-splitting cheers. Maybe it was my wild leap in the air with a wobbling kid atop my shoulders. Who knows? But it worked. As his duck boat moved down the street, Tom Brady, best quarterback of all time, swung around and, grinning broadly, seemingly pointed directly at us. It was an epic father-son moment.
Someday, Robbie will forget the frozen feet and the slush-filled sneakers. He'll probably forget that he was hungry and tired. What he'll remember is this: he was just yards away from the greatest coach and quarterback of all time.
Before I could catch my breath, the duck boats had passed. I felt a tug on the hood of my jacket, then a knocking on my head. Robbie leaned over and stared me straight in my eyes. "Dad," he said impatiently. "Can we get out of here now?"