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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stuffed monkeys, capes and sacred seats may be key to Patriots win on Sunday, Nashua fans say

Every weekend from August to February, local New England Patriots supporters turn on their TV sets and put their faith in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to win football games.

And the 12-4 squad, in the midst of its 10th playoff appearance in 12 years, already socked its first opponent, the Houston Texans, 42-14 just a few weeks ago. ...

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Every weekend from August to February, local New England Patriots supporters turn on their TV sets and put their faith in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to win football games.

And the 12-4 squad, in the midst of its 10th playoff appearance in 12 years, already socked its first opponent, the Houston Texans, 42-14 just a few weeks ago.

But that doesn’t mean local fans won’t do whatever it takes to help them out – just in case.

Take, for example, Pattie “Pats” Ganier, of Nashua.

She suffered a broken elbow and wrist in 2006 after slipping in front of her house one October day, in the middle of football season. The mishap happened around 12:30 p.m. – much too close to kickoff at 1.

“My husband goes, ‘Come on, I’ll take you to the emergency room,’ ” Ganier recalled, sitting in her “Flying Elvis” sweatpants, sweatshirt and flip-flops on Friday. “I said, ‘The game’s on at 1. I’ll be OK.’ ”

Instead of going to the hospital, Ganier retreated to “The Spot” in her living room – a corner seat on a beige couch where she watches football. She sits quietly beneath a red, white and blue blanket with a Patriots helmet screened on it – her knees facing the window, her hands folded neatly in her lap.

It was a tradition, and she couldn’t bring herself to break it.

“I waited and I watched the whole game,” Ganier said. “The game ended about 5 p.m. and I said, ‘OK, now we can go to the emergency room.’ … They played Cleveland or somebody. They lost, I believe.”

The 2012-13 season marks 15 years Ganier has watched the Patriots that way.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Ganier, a Somerville, Mass., native and fan of the team since 1963, when they were the Boston Patriots. “I think it predicts the outcome sometimes. If I don’t sit the right way, they’ll probably lose.”

Superstitions such as Ganier’s will be out in full force Sunday.

While Ganier hangs a Patriots shower curtain in her bathroom and positions her Wes Welker bobblehead just right on her toilet, others in Greater Nashua are already busting out other tokens and voodoo, just in case.

Some of those superstitions are tame, such as wearing a lucky No. 12 jersey every NFL Sunday and Monday.

Sharon Elliott, of Litchfield, said she hasn’t decided whether to sport hers at Sunday Mass at St. Kathryn Church in Hudson.

“I always say a prayer at church,” Elliott explained. “I’m debating whether I’ll wear it singing in the choir.”

Others are sacred rites in and of themselves, such as tying a “Pat the Patriot” flag around the throat like Superman’s cape for each game. That’s the game-winning garb for Bob “Coach” Walles, of Merrimack.

“It’s been through hell,” Walles said of his beloved cape on Thursday.

Last year, he and his brother, Scott “The Fly” Walles, visited his son, Bobby, in Brooklyn to watch the Super Bowl in Queens, N.Y. – otherwise known as Giants country, he said.

“During the game, I went outside and ran around with the cape,” he said. “My son said, ‘Dad, you don’t want to do that here.’ ”

Despite the Giants’ second Super Bowl upset in five years, the cape tradition remains.

Walles, a season ticket holder for 23 years, has seen his NFL draft parties –
once the highlight of the season – turn into Super Bowl victory parties since 2001.

A “Hall of Fame” in his house, complete with posters, pigskins and dirt from Foxboro Stadium, are a testament to his team.

So the cape stays – win or lose – as a way of channeling good luck for his Patriots, just in case.

Like those quirky Bud Light beer commercials airing on commercial breaks this football season, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

Alas, that’s the case for Nashua man Walter Cahill and his group of buddies who watched the Super Bowl with a red, white and blue stuffed monkey last year.

Watching the game at Peddler’s Daughter, Cahill and his friend John O’Donnell passed around a brown and white football for fans to sign, and kept a “lucky” Boston Bruins puck as a shrine on the bar table. The puck got O’Donnell a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011, he said; it just didn’t bring him a Vince Lombardi trophy – yet.

“We brought the monkey to get the monkey off our back and beat the Giants,” Cahill explained. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work, so we had to dispatch it out to misfit toys.”

Cahill’s friend Kevin Burns, of Merrimack, ended up with the monkey – or at least his grandson did.

“The monkey’s still climbing the team,” Burns said with a laugh.

But the monkey was resurrected last week, and the signature football is pumped back up for the road to Super Bowl XLVII – just in case.

“We don’t have to worry about Eli Manning and the Giants, since they didn’t make it. His brother did. We may have to break it out again if they play Denver,” Cahill said, referring to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

“Every Manning is like a monkey on our backs,” said Ger Deegan, of Nashua, another member of Cahill’s crew, looking ahead to an AFC Championship Game matchup with the Denver Broncos.

But first the friends are hoping their tokens helps get the Pats past the Texans.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).