A dream that became a reality

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 10:00 PM

Ever since I was a little kid, my dream was to cover just one New England Patriots football game. Last Monday night, that dream became a reality.

The Carolina Panthers hosted the Patriots in the biggest Monday Night Football game of the year so far. Once I was granted my media credentials the Thursday prior, I began putting together a short list of things I wanted to do and people I wanted to meet.

There were two individuals in particular that I wanted to have the chance to meet and talk to in the press box. ESPN Boston reporters Mike Reiss and Field Yates are two people I admire and follow online each and every day. When I got to my seat in the press box, Mike was three seats down from me and Field was just on the other side of him. Prior to the game, I was able to talk with them both for about five minutes and it was a great experience to talk to the type of reporter I hope to be someday.

At the conclusion of the game, which I'm not going to get into, I made may way to the Patriots locker room. A place where I never thought I would ever step foot in. Once the locker room was open to the media, I made my way in and interviewed running back Shane Vereen. Following the interview with Vereen, it was announced that Quarterback Tom Brady was going up to the podium in the press conference room.

I squeezed my way into the packed conference room and got a spot about five feet to the right of Brady and the podium. After a few questions had been asked and my heart stopped pounding at such a high rate, I built up the courage to throw out a question to Brady. I asked him, "How important is it to convert touchdowns over field goals once inside the red zone?" The reason I asked that question is because had the Patriots scored a touchdown over a field goal earlier in the game, the final drive of the game would have only needed a field goal to win.

Brady then looked over to his right to make eye contact with me and answer my question. He responded with "Especially against a good defensive team, we knew they were pretty good statistically in a lot of categories and we had opportunities to get down there. We moved the ball pretty well, just couldn't punch it in and get a lot of points. We had our chances, but just couldn't get it done."

Having one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game answer my question at the press conference, it meant the world to me. I was at a loss for words.

After the last question had been asked, Brady walked right past me to leave the press conference. I was told by some of my colleagues that they saw me on ESPN when Brady was leaving the press conference.

All this entire experience was beyond amazing, I still had one more thing to cross off my list. I wanted to shake Brady's hand. As I was walking towards the exit of the stadium, Brady was also walking towards the exit. He stopped to take a couple pictures and talk to a couple people. So I built up the courage to walk up to him. I put my hand out and said, "thank you for answering my question back there." Brady then extended his hand, shook my hand and responded with "It's no problem, man."

My list was now complete. I met two of my favorite reporters, went inside the Patriots locker room, asked and got my question answered by Tom Brady, shook the hand of Tom Brady, and most importantly, I lived out my lifelong dream of covering my beloved New England Patriots.

Bryant Lilley is the Sports Reporter for the News-Topic. He can be reached at 828-758-7381, ext. 322, or by email at blilley@newstopic.net.