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Patriot Way isn’t so bad after all

Some of you may know my father when you see him. Others may recognize his voice before you recognize his face.

Submitted photo
Debra Sparkes-Mercer (left) and Rev. William Mercer managed to get tickets to a sold-out New England Patriot games through team owner Robert Kraft after emailing him on a whim. Here they are at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Rev. William Mercer is the clergy at Wesley United Church in St. John’s. He has been for 10 years, but prior to that, he spent time in Green’s Harbour, Harbour Grace and Old Perlican.

In addition to that, every Sunday he can be heard on VOWR if you so please.

What you may not know about him is that he is a huge football fan. Whether it be America’s National Football League or it’s northern cousin the Canadian Football League, the Rev loves a good game of pigskin. He does prefer the CFL to the NFL, however. He says the game is faster with its three-downs, which for him makes it more enjoyable.

Growing up in Toronto, the Argonauts were the team of choice. He played football at Danforth Tech. Don’t ask me which position because at 6-foot-three inches and over 200 pounds, he was probably a terror wherever he played. When I was a kid I was indoctrinated with the school’s football chant and dad tried out for the minor league York Simcoe Bucks as an underager.

What does this have to do with anything at all?

Well, a couple of months ago he took a hail mary (Get it? It’s a football term and a holy term) in search of football tickets. More specifically, he went looking for New England Patriot tickets.

He and my mother were planning a trip to celebrate her recent retirement from teaching when they circled a Sept. 27 game between the Patriots and the New England Patriots on their calendars. Unfortunately, the game was sold out.

Here comes the desperation pass looking for a late game touchdown. Dad decides he is going to email Robert Kraft, the Pats’ owner — OWNER! — directly in hopes of him having a pair of treasured tickets stashed away in a safe somewhere guarded by sharks with fricken’ lasers on their heads. I mean, don’t all multi-millionaires have safes like that. Maybe that’s just an evil despot bent on ruling the world, who knows?

Rev. Mercer details mother’s retirement and her love for the Patriots in the email. Really she loves Tom Brady and his movie star good looks, but that’s how it goes.

After pressing send, he must’ve thought there was no way this is going to work but here it goes anyway. A couple of weeks pass and nothing and despair is high at the Mercer household in Paradise.

Then signs of life. An email arrives from one of Kraft’s people. Mr. Kraft has seen the email, usually has a couple of tickets squirrelled away and will be in touch later on.

Dad sends a return email with the home number as instructed. Again, they play the waiting game.

Another few weeks come and pass with no return response. Again, despair hits as they start looking at alternatives. Maybe a visit to Buffalo and Rex Ryan’s Bills or maybe they’ll venture into the Motor City for a date with the Detroit Lions.

I mean, Lions QB Matthew Stafford was a nice second option, but he’s no Brady.

As fate would have it, Kraft came through in the clutch. One afternoon, the Gillette Stadium box office came calling. The tickets would be waiting for them when they arrived in Foxborough. They weren’t free, but for an otherwise sold-out game, certainly appreciated.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and its game day. The pair experience a NFL tailgate for the first time. There is meat sandwiches, barbeques, crab claws, wine and plenty of beer.

They didn’t partake in much of the alcohol, if any, but it was readily available.

Then came the game.

“Brady is coming onto the field. This is surreal” was the text from my mom moments before kick-off.

Kraft didn’t have to do what he did. That’s pretty cool of him.

Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at

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