FOXBOROUGH - Professional athletes usually choose to hit the mute button in their minds to block out the boos of a fickle fandom. But cornerback Ellis Hobbs had the volume turned up Sunday, when the Patriots were booed - and abandoned - by the fed-up Foxborough Faithful during a shocking 38-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Yesterday, Hobbs took the opportunity to respond to the fans - and media - he felt overreacted to one poor performance by the Patriots, who sustained their worst loss at Gillette Stadium since it opened for business in 2002. The loquacious cornerback said the behavior was a testament to how spoiled fans have become by the team's success and how quick they are to panic.
"It doesn't hurt," said Hobbs. "It amazes me, amazes me, how people react. You would think that this organization hasn't won as much as they've won and hasn't been successful in the years that they have.
"Expectations are that high that we're not allowed a bad game or something like that. How many times has somebody had a bad day at the office? How many times has somebody missed a deadline and not gotten in the paper? Missing whatever, forgetting to fix their kids' lunch?"
Part of a defense that allowed 461 yards of total offense, Hobbs said he planned to use the booing as motivation.
"I don't block it out. I accept it. I remember. I use it," Hobbs said. "I use it as a thing of 'remember this when you are successful.' That's how you keep it all in perspective. As soon as they're stabbing you in the back and they're booing, they're ready to pat you [on the back] again.
"This is when you find out what type of player you are. This is when you find out what type of man you are, as far as this game goes, because when the adversity hits and things aren't going your way, who is really in your corner?
"Everybody has to do their job. You guys have to report, whatever, but I'm speaking from the perspective of now everybody wants to jump off the bandwagon: 'Can they really do it?' 'It's not going to happen.' 'They're missing key parts.' Whatever you want to say about it. But this is where you find out what kind of players you are."
Hobbs thinks one reason fans boo is that, unlike the players on the field, they're invisible, lost in a sea of 68,000 people.
"There are no rules or regulations to what you can say," said Hobbs. "You paid your money. You feel like you're owed that. I really think that if you looked at it, if the tables were turned, if people would really think about [it], that's almost like if their kid lost the game and all the sudden everybody is blaming their kid. They would get upset about that, but you can't really argue about it because, like I said, we get paid for this.
"We didn't ask to do this job. We chose to do this job. We get paid for it. You have to take the good with the bad and that's just one of the bad things about the game. Hey, like I said, you can quote this one: I remember."
The NFL did implement a fan code of conduct over the summer, but it focuses on preventing unruly behavior and profane language. Booing your own team for a poor performance wouldn't fall under those guidelines. Neither does deciding to vacate the stadium early, as many Patriots fans did during the Dolphins' demolition job.
"Don't bother me none. I don't look forward to seeing none of them," said Hobbs, when asked if he was bothered by such behavior. "I look forward to seeing a couple of people after the game and that's my wife, kids. Those are the people I count on every day because when I leave this locker room, nobody knows me as No. 27, Ellis Hobbs. They know me as Ellis Hobbs, daddy. Ellis Hobbs, husband, family, friend."
Tight end Benjamin Watson said it was "pretty disgusting" to watch people leaving early but the fans just hold the Patriots to the same high standard the players and coaches hold themselves to.
"They're entitled. They pay for their ticket," said Watson. "One thing my dad said was, 'They pay for their ticket. They can say whatever they want to say.'
"They expect the best out of us, which is good. When you have people with high expectations of you, you tend to meet those expectations as well. It's not a bad thing that they're disappointed. We're disappointed at times when we're not doing things well. Our main goal is just to improve on what we've already got and win more football games."
That was ultimately Hobbs's message, too - that the Patriots have the bye week and 13 more games to turn those boos into cheers.
One loss - no matter how bad - doesn't mean the season is lost after just three games.
"Things can always be corrected; even when you win, things can still be corrected," said Hobbs. "We don't have the luxury of panicking like a fan does, to sit there and boo or whatever.
"I'm starting to get into personal stuff, but that's exactly why they're fans. Whoever was doing that, it is what it is. We're not sitting here panicking, it's Week 3. We're moving on to San Francisco."
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org