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Most e-mails I received — and they kept coming and coming — from New England Patriots fans following my column Tuesday about Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson questioning the sportsmanship of some Patriots players were of an immature school-yard variety.

“Yeah, but Shawne Merriman did this or said that first…”

My point was that Tomlinson got Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs, a guilty party for dancing on the Bolts’ logo on the field following New England’s 24-21 upset of the Chargers Sunday in the AFC playoffs, to agree he was out of line by letting his emotions run amok. Thus, we could use more players with LT’s authority in the NFL.

But I did receive a few rational responses that shed light on what fueled Patriots fans. One included Youtube video.

Thanks for writing the piece on Tomlinson’s exemplary behavior in the NFL and the example he sets for his peers and younger athletes. I wish more of our role models followed his lead on the field.

As a Patriots fan, I also wish the end of the Chargers and Pats game had been a bit more dignified. I certainly wish that Hobbs had been mature enough to walk off the field, which would have made a far more confident and stronger statement than a mean dance would have.

In defense of my team, however, I do want to indicate that the Patriot nation’s beef with Merriman is not limited solely to his sack dance. As you noted in your commentary, Chargers DE Luis Castillo claimed that Merriman celebrates his own accomplishments but doesn’t “talk about a player or team and put them town.”

However, this video link from Jan. 10 was widely circulated throughout both Boston and San Diego (as well as on the computers of football fans everywhere). Shawne Merriman attends a Chargers’ rally and not only says he will sock Brady in the mouth, but eggs on the crowd’s “Brady sucks,” chant immediately following:

Again, I think both teams could use some serious lessons in dignity and sportsmanship after this weekend. I don’t feel the Patriots are a spotless bunch when it comes to character, however I felt compelled to help further bring to light the genesis of much of their ire. If Belichick is to feel ashamed of his team’s behavior, as Tomlinson implies, than Schottenheimer certainly should be held accountable for nonsense such as Merriman’s.

Thanks for reading,
– Jaycey Tsai

Now I understand what set off immature Patriots fans — ones who no doubt are like the guy depicted in that old ESPN commercial of a goof from Boston in a Bruins sweater floating a boat in a tub of water.

Some of those Patriots players dancing on the Chargers’ logo weren’t around for the Super Bowl years. Similarly, I’m guessing some of the fans jumping to conclusions about Tomlinson’s comments are front-runners who were around as die-hard fans before the Patriots’ Super Bowl seasons.

But don’t think for a second that the Merriman video had anything to do with motivating the Patriots players to upset the Chargers.

If that were true, the Patriots would have won the game long before Marlon McCree fumbled an interception return that gave the ball back to the Patriots to set up the game-tying touchdown and accompanying two-point conversion;

Before Drayton Florence’s head butt after the Chargers’ stopped the Patriots on fourth down gave the Patriots a first-down en route to scoring;

Before normally sure-handed Eric Parker fumbled a punt that led to a Patriots score;

Before Clinton Hart dropped an easy interception deep in Patriots’ territory early in the game

Before Vincent Jackson dropped a first-down pass in Patriots’ territory that could have set up a Chargers’ scorer.

Remember this Patriots fan: When baseball poet laureate Roger Kahn attended the Padres three-game comeback against the Chicago Cubs in the 1984 National League Championship Series, he said he had never heard a louder baseball crowd.

Boston fans may have mocked San Diego for having a high school-like rally before the game, when Merriman was caught on tape, but Boston fans rioted after the 2004 World Series.

That’s similar to other Eastern cities that are supposed to be such good sports towns, but a real sports town has fans like San Diegans and team leaders like Tomlinson.

TOM SHANAHAN

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