I’m not a Boston sports fan, but Bailey Zappe caught my eye

Bailey Zappe has big shoes to fill in the wake of Tom Brady. (Courtesy: Creative Commons)

Bailey Zappe has big shoes to fill in the wake of Tom Brady. (Courtesy: Creative Commons)

By Vani Hanamirian

As a Philadelphia sports fan, I’m used to an underdog situation — note Super Bowl LII — but was not expecting the same ‘underdog feeling’ in a city that has won 10 Super Bowls in 22 years until I saw Bailey Zappe. 

Philly fans are notorious for their rowdy and energetic nature. Growing up outside of Philly, I was engulfed in the chaos, witnessing it firsthand at the age of five when a fight broke out in the stands at a Flyers game. I watched as the fight commenced, with my dad simply saying, “That just happens here,” as reason for the brawl. The Philadelphia passion grew with me as I began to pay attention to more teams,  tuning into football in 2016 during the  reign of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. 

I knew Brady as the “G.O.A.T.” and the “best to ever play.” He has always been revered as a legend and an icon. I thought he was unbeatable, indestructible, and even last weekend when the Chiefs sacked Brady fairly, it was called as a ‘roughing the passer.’ In 2016, he was seen as a stone wall no one could get past. 

Then the underdogs — the  Eagles — arrived. Hot on receiving and fresh new plays, the team just seemed to continuously get the ball where it needed to go. In 2016, the Eagles got the downs, the extra points, and played the best game I’d seen in the league in a while. 

There wasn’t one man running the field; it was a team effort. They each knew where to pick up slack for another player, or where their quarterback was throwing. There was not a single superstar, but instead a unit. This was the first time I’d seen a team effort achieve this much success in the NFL. 

This bond of the 2016 Eagles was special, and I knew it. Then, they won the Super Bowl, defeating Tom Brady and his Patriots 41-33. 

I have never been a Patriots fan because they always had no more than two star. Whether it was Brady, Mac Jones, or the dual effort of Brady and Rob Gronkowlski, the Pats have always lacked collaboration — players coming together to create a bond bigger than the power of one star. What makes Philadelphia teams so special is their success as underdogs.

I never thought the Patriots would have Philly’s underdog story or mentality — that is, until Bailey Zappe, the 6’1 Texan, showed up in a game against the Green Bay Packers. 

It was an assumed win for the Packers as Zappe hadn’t played any NFL game prior to his start on Oct. 2, 2022. 

Selected at the tail end of the fourth round, Zappe was expected to sit behind the “to-be” quarterback of New England. 

Though the Patriots’ long-term success garnered much attention in recent decades, Brady’s absence left a hole that’s become difficult to fill as the team struggles to find its identity. 

Then suddenly, an underdog rookie quarterback appears on the Patriots after years of being and having the G.O.A.T,. and everything changes. A player who’s never started before begins to hit a streak. Making 10 completions in the overtime loss to Green Bay opens his opportunities and in the next Sunday, Zappe steps on the Gillette Field in Foxborough to lead the team to a 29-0 victory against the Detroit Lions. 

Last weekend’s showdown against the Cleveland Browns featured a Zappe who caught fire, throwing for two touchdowns and 309 yards to propel the Pats to a 38-15 victory.

For the past 10 years, this type of victory has been unheard of in Boston; unheard of around the country. Very rarely do rookie quarterbacks perform this well.  

It’s magical — or it’s just the Patriots’ luck. I, for one, am excited to watch the Patriots’ games now because I’m not watching knowing that they’re going to win. I’m watching Zappe fight for a starting position and prove himself game after game. I’m as excited as I was watching Jeremy Lin start for the New York Knicks, making a ruckus in the NBA. 

I’m not a Boston fan. I’m simply a fan of the underdog, and right now the underdog happens to be in Boston as the new starting quarterback for the Patriots.