THE BRADY BUNCH
THE STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FEBRUARY 4, 2017 ON ESPN.COM.
These loyal fans from all over the world are proudly wearing No. 12 in Houston ahead of Super Bowl LI. Here they discuss Tom Brady's greatness, his seventh Super Bowl and his possible fifth ring.
Taylor, Brad and little Wyatt Karl are in Houston -- all the way from Calgary, Canada -- for pregame festivities. On why he likes Tom Brady so much, Brad says, "He is the GOAT [greatest of all time]. I like that he was a late-round draft pick, overcame that, worked as hard as he could, had an opportunity and shined."
Young Miles Mclean and his dad -- from Temecula, California -- are going to the Super Bowl. Miles has been a Patriots fan since he started watching football.
Samuel Martinez came to Houston from San Antonio, Texas. He's hoping to get tickets to the Super Bowl and has been a fan of the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe played with the team. To be clear, he's "not a bandwagon jumper."
David Ramos and his son Bernardo, whose favorite player is Tom Brady, came up to Houston from Mexico City. Ramos has been a fan of Brady's for 12 or 13 years. "I believe he is the best of all time. His numbers are amazing."
Spotted at local hot spot The Breakfast Klub, Houston native Kevin Bolivar loves Brady's energy and leadership and thinks the QB and coach Bill Belichick are the perfect match. "Houston didn't have a team for a while, and I was a Randy Moss fan. Ever since they hooked up and Tom Brady has been the full-time starter, we've been on the ultimate high. It's a proud moment for all Pat Nation fans. The Patriots are resilient. We will win, and we will have five rings at the end of the day!"
Married couple Karen and Clay Smith live in Missouri City, Texas, and their family fandom is split, with two Texans fans and two Pats fans at home. Karen has been a Pats fan since 1983. She says, "We've earned it to be here, considering how we started our season. I like [Brady's] diligence, hard work, and he's authentic." At Christmas every year, there's a present for Karen under the tree from "Tom Brady."
Jaimie Surratt is from North Carolina and has been a Patriots fan since his friend Rodney McSwain was a cornerback and played in the Super Bowl against Chicago in 1985. "I'm from North Carolina. They don't like Brady up there. I rep everywhere I go."
Originally from the Northeast, Danielle Spear and Hayden Collins both live in Houston. Danielle was born and raised in Massachusetts, and she says, "That explains everything I need to explain. [Brady's] the best quarterback in the history of football." Hayden is from Fairfield, Connecticut, and started watching football the year Brady came in for Bledsoe. He's been a fan ever since.
Thirteen-year-old Jacob Brady Dennie of Bradenton, Florida, has a special namesake. "Brady is my middle name. He's the best of all time. I love winning. I want to be just like Tom Brady one day. We're going to throw a big party back home for the Super Bowl."
Melissa Barr and her daughter Sienna traveled all the way to Houston from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, for the Super Bowl. They also have tickets for the Pats' afterparty. When asked about why she likes Tom Brady, Melissa said, "His integrity. He's always all about the team and all about the game. He even took a pay cut to stay with the Patriots. I just think he's amazing." Melissa has been true to the Pats since living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then Houston, and most recently Papua New Guinea.
Sporting a unique No. 12 jersey picked by his wife, Gail, Patriots fan Rick McCartney is from Hudson, New Hampshire. His Brady jersey is just one of 20 different styles in their collection. At 61 years old, Rick has been a season-ticket holder since 1977. He attended the '86 and '97 Super Bowls, and he is looking forward to being at his first Brady-era Super Bowl rooting for the Pats.
Brothers Danny and Jason Berman hail from Boston and have been Patriots fans their whole lives. They recall going to games with their dad "at the old Foxboro Stadium, with metal benches, freezing our butts off -- we're born and bred in New England." Their favorite thing about Tom Brady is that "he's so handsome -- he's getting better with age."
Hector Navarro, 42, is originally from Mexico, lives in Houston, and works for a seismograph company. Tom Brady is his favorite player, and Navarro has been a fan since Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002. Navarro likes the way the whole team performs and how Belichick lays down the law.
Wearing matching Brady jerseys, Sandy and James Heathman are Patriots fans who call Texas home. Originally from Martha's Vineyard, James has been a fan since the team was called the Boston Patriots, with RB Jim Nance, and says, "All my life, I bleed blue and red."
Seven-year-old twins Nathan and Maddie Wrobleski live in Houston with their parents, Steven and Laura. Steven is from Boston and says the Brady jerseys they're wearing are the third ones they've had. Nathan loves Tom Brady because he is "the greatest living American."
Billy Evans, 27, of Providence, Rhode Island, says, "This season is dedicated to him. I went to Cleveland to see him come back. It's all about him and his drive and the team. We gotta win No. 5."
Father and son Robert Ebbeling, 54, and Alec, 18, are from Winnipeg, Canada. Regarding their Brady fandom, Robert says, "My son fell in love with Tom Brady's football skills, then became a quarterback himself." Alec added, "Ever since I've been a kid, I aspired to be like Tom Brady, wanted to go to the Super Bowl to see him. And this year we're actually doing it."
Joe Popolla of Johnston, Rhode Island, is in Houston to attend the Super Bowl with his son. Popolla has been a Patriots fan since he was a kid, "when they were awful and the stadium was half-empty." Brady is his favorite player. Popolla asks, "How can you not like him? He's a great person off the field. He's going to go down as the best of all time."
Ashley Dawson, 25, of Pasadena, Texas, has taken on boyfriend Foster LeVeau's Patriots fandom by wearing No. 12 ahead of the big game.
Jimmie Sabala is from Houston and has been watching the Patriots for 10 years, since he was 11. "Tom's the GOAT," he says. "He's accurate. He's a huge part of the team. Without him they wouldn't make it this far."
The Li Vargas family pose in front of an outdoor sculpture near the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Luis Li Vargas grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts, and has been a Patriots fan since 1989. He's with his wife, Maria, and sons Daniel and Louis Jr. Luis thinks Brady does great under pressure and is still at the top of his game. "Brady's hungry," he says. "He's gonna get No. 5 for Gronk. He's done a ton for us, and we're grateful to have him on our team."
Sixteen-year-old Jorge Delamora, of Mexico City, is a huge Patriots fan and is going to the Super Bowl. He said Brady has been his inspiration and has always been a role model: "If [the Patriots] win, it will be the best day of my life. I grew up watching him. I went to the 2007 Super Bowl when I was 6 years old."
Born and raised outside of Boston, Jimmy Le, 27, is a die-hard Pats fan. He's with Mariah Ojeda, who is a fan thanks to Le. Le says, "Tom is such a humble guy. Graceful, consistent, his love for the football game ... that's what makes him so great."
Army veteran David Meighan always bonded with his grandfather over Patriots football. After his grandfather died, Meighan made it a point to get to the Super Bowl. He loves Brady because "he's got that fight, that competitive edge. He's done so much; we really want him to get that fifth win to distinguish himself higher than any other quarterback. When the game's on the line, there are very few people you want to put the ball in their hands, and he's one of them. The fact he's a Patriot ... he's got all my support."
From Bellingham, Massachusetts, John Murray has been a Patriots season-ticket holder for 45 years. Murray has brought his daughter Shayna to games since she was 4. He's brought her to every Patriots Super Bowl. Shayna says her dad "has a man-crush on Tom Brady." Brady even signed John's arm once at a Patriots practice, and then John made it permanent with a tattoo.