The 12th man in football refers to the fans of a team. For the New England Patriots, they have a 13th man. Or in this case, a Calvary. These are the men and women who comprise the New England End Zone Militia.
The Militia, which was formed in 1996 as a color guard, honor the real New England Patriots – the people who were brave enough give their lives for a revolution of independence as a separate country from the British Commonwealth. These men and women are Revolutionary War reenactors. They are normal people like you and me, but they have a love for both history and for the New England Patriots. Originally a volunteer group, the members of the Militia finally became paid by the Patriots in the 2013 season. They are clad in authentic Revolution-era uniforms, which range up to $2,000 in cost, and they carry authentic muskets from that era. They also have to pay for their own gunpowder for their muskets. 20 members of the Militia are at the game, 10 in each end zone. When the Patriots enter the field, they fire their muskets in salute. During kickoffs, Patriots touchdowns, Patriots extra points, and Patriots wins, they fire their muskets. It’s truly one of the best things to see during games at Gillette Stadium. Not only do they work at Patriots games, they work at New England Revolution soccer matches, where they fire their muskets after kickoff, Revs goals, and Revs wins. If you want to be a part of the End Zone Militia, it’s not going to be easy. You have to be in good standing for at least three years, and, even then, there’s a wait list to get into this exclusive club.
The following two clips come from WPRI’s The Rhode Show, talking with the End Zone Militia, days before the Patriots played in the Super Bowl. The first one was filmed before Super Bowl XLVI. The other one was filmed before Super Bowl XLIX.
And this clip is from ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown in which senior writer Rick Reilly gets to live a game day in the life of the Militia.
And with that, that’s all for the countdown to the 2016 NHL Winter Classic. Hope you enjoy the game, and have and have a safe and healthy start to 2016!
Oh, and as a postscript, check out my previous article when Rob Gronkowski spiked the puck prior the Bruins game after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX.