Though the Patriots’ 26-10 win over the Rams on Sunday didn’t provide an amazing number of on-field highlights, there was one particular television moment that captivated New England fans (and even got a shout-out from Randy Moss). Cameras for the Fox broadcast cut to a fan in the stands who looks remarkably like Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
The man was identified as lifelong Patriots fan Kevin Sullivan. In the midst of a whirlwind of unexpected attention, Sullivan sat down for an interview:
Did you have a moment when Matt Patricia first became the defensive coordinator when you realized how much you looked like a Patriots coach?
Well, when he was an assistant, I would see him in the background and be like, ‘That guy kind of looks like me.’ And then once he came to the forefront, then all of my friends started noticing and saying stuff. Once he became the defensive coordinator, that’s when more people started noticing.
Did your similar look hit home the first time you dressed up like him?
Like I said on Toucher and Rich, this is how I’ve been for a long time. I always grow my beard out during the winter, so it just was natural to get that sweatshirt and wear it to Halloween games and to the parade. Then the other day, my friend’s wife got us tickets front row, so I thought I had to wear it. I thought I would just get on the JumboTron, maybe the TV, that’s it. But I didn’t think it would be all this craziness.
Has there been one part of all of this that you’ve been most excited about?
Well, yesterday I thought it was cool talking on Toucher and Rich, because I listen to them every morning. But then watching Monday Night Football with my brother last night, and they were doing the ‘C’mon, man‘ segment. And when I was the one that Randy Moss announced, I just thought that’s crazy. I totally respect that guy. He’s one of the best receivers ever and a future Hall of Famer. That was wicked cool.
I know you said you keep your phone on silent during the game, but when did you start to get an inkling that you had gotten noticed?
When my buddy, Matt, whose phone wasn’t on silent because he has a little kid so he always keeps his phone on, his brother-in-law was calling him. That’s when we found out. And it was crazy, I was picking up my phone and just glancing at it. I didn’t want to read any of the texts, because if I did that, then I would just not have been able to watch any of the game. I just kept seeing the number go up and up and up. You’re not used to getting that many text messages or notifications.
How often are you able to go to Patriots games?
Now I probably try to get to at least two or three a year. I had season tickets for like four seasons. I went to the second Super Bowl against the Giants out in Indianapolis, and that was cool. The experience going there and leading up to it. The ending was a little upsetting, but it was still a great experience. Not many get to go to a Super Bowl and see your team. So many people don’t get to experience that. It was awesome.
Do you usually go with the Matt Patricia look?
I always wear a backwards Patriots cap. The beard and the hair, that’s just how I am. So typically I have this old school Pat Patriot long sleeve T-shirt that I wear. That’s like my go-to. It’s like my good luck charm. I wear that to all the games. Usually if it’s Halloween or closer to it, I’ll wear the red hoodie to the games. But I just figured that since I was front row, instead of where my old tickets were in the 200s (section), I was like I have to wear the sweatshirt, just to see if we end up on TV. Like I said, I didn’t think it would turn into all of this, which is pretty funny. Pretty crazy, too.
Have you ever run into other Matt Patricia doppelgängers?
At the Halloween game last year, I ran into a young lady dressed like him with a fake beard. That was kind of funny. I always get people yelling, ‘Hey, Matt Patricia, Matt Patricia.’ At the parade a couple of years ago, Jonathan Kraft actually leaned over his Duck Boat and was like, ‘Matt Patricia!’ That was kind of cool. And when the coaches boat went by, Josh McDaniels was on my side and he started shouting for Matt, who came over from the other side (of the boat). We were yelling back and forth, which was great.
When you got to the stadium yesterday, how quickly were people calling you out for the Patricia look?
Well we usually park on the street for the easy-out parking and when we’re walking down to the stadium, we were getting beeps from cars. And there’s always a cop by the Papa Gino’s, a state trooper who always says to me whenever we cross, ‘Coach, you’re supposed to be in the game!’ He’s a cool guy. He always says something. It’s just cool seeing regular people that I’m used to. And actually when I had season tickets, there was a time when I was waiting to come in and there was a guy who said, ‘I don’t go to all the games, but I always see you when I’m here, and I know we’re going to win, because I think of the coach.’
Does dressing up like Matt Patricia lead to free beer?
No, no. That doesn’t happen. Actually, the guy I was sitting next to on Sunday, he gave me a beer, because I told him my old tickets were in the family section, which he didn’t even know existed in the park. He said, ‘Well you need a beer for all these games you’ve gone to without getting beers.’ And I told him it’s OK, but I wasn’t going to turn him down.
If you met Matt Patricia, would you ask him anything in particular about the Patriots? Or would you just trade tips on how to maintain your beard?
It would be cool just to shake his hand and thank him for all that he’s done over the years as a Patriots assistant and now the coordinator. I love football. It’s my number one (sport). I know people that have met him at charity functions. They always say how much we look alike, so it would just be funny to get a side-by-side picture.
Do you plan on going to any other Patriots games this season?
I would like to more Patriots games this year. I don’t have any lined up, but typically that’s how it works with me and my friends. One of us gets tickets and we call each other asking if we want to go to the game. You never know. It’s not as frequent as a Red Sox game during the summer, but it still happens. I’m always the one that gets the first phone call because I used to have the season tickets and I’d take all my friends. And I didn’t ask for money. I just like the experience of going and having fun with my friends, so whenever I had the tickets I would share them. So whenever they get the free tickets, I usually get the first call.