Former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis under fire from Patriots fans

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees during their game on May 13, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees during their game on May 13, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Former Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis had to defend his Bengals fandom on social media from some confused Patriots fans.

Becoming a fan of your hometown team is among the earliest memories we have of following sports. This loyalty is ingrained in us from an early age when we’re taught to cheer for the logo on the jersey, not the name on the back. True fans stick by their teams through good times and bad. So why is it that when an athlete who didn’t grow up here signs with one of our franchises, we expect they will suddenly become a fan of every team from our city? That’s what former Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis would like to know.

Youkilis took a playful jab at the Cincinnati Bengals in the wake of the Arizona Cardinals handing them their latest loss on a field goal as time expired. Their 0-5 record undersells how much of a dumpster fire the Bengals have been this season, making them so hard to watch that Youkilis joked that exposing his kids to their games warrants reporting himself to child protective services.

He obviously wasn’t being serious about neglecting his kids so there’s no need for backlash regarding his parenting skills. Youkilis was merely making a joke about the poorly run franchise he grew up rooting for. Bengals fans can’t even argue that point.

Instead, it was Patriots fans who were irked by his Tweet. Youkilis followed up with several tweets to reveal that he’s been bombarded by Patriots fans who were shocked to find that he roots for a team that doesn’t reside in New England.

The basis of the arguments from those reigning fire down on Youkilis is twofold:

  1. He spent nine years playing for the Red Sox.
  2. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is his brother-in-law

Apparently, a portion of the fan base assumes this makes Youk a Pats fan. This pushed the former Gold Glove winner to get a little defensive on Twitter.

Youk explained that he does watch the Patriots and he supports Brady. However, the Cincinnati native will always be a Bengals fan.

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There are probably plenty of Cincinnati fans who are tempted to trade in their Bengals stripes for Patriots colors. New England’s dynasty has lasted nearly two decades with the best quarterback and head coach in NFL history. Fans from other franchises have no choice but to envy them or hate them. Those who cut ties with a long-suffering franchise to pledge their allegiance to the Patriots risk being mocked as a “bandwagon fan.”

Why should it be any different for Youkilis? Because he played in Boston? That may work in some cases. Paul Pierce grew up hating the Celtics as a die-hard Lakers fan but now he bleeds green. That’s the exception, not the rule.

I’m not buying the notion that he married into the Patriots fanbase when he tied the knot with Brady’s sister either. I grew up in a household with one parent who is a Patriots fan and another who roots for the Giants. Neither abandoned their team to appease the other.

Boston is a fantastic sports city that has seen each of its teams celebrate championships in their recent history. Athletes who come here tend to be supportive of their fellow Boston players. We’ve seen Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins players take the field at Fenway to join the festivities when the Red Sox have celebrated their World Series titles. There’s a bond that forms between players in this city that can extend to other sports, such as Brady’s friendship forming with David Ortiz when they both emerged as superstars.

That doesn’t mean you abandon your hometown team. Youk can still support the Red Sox and Patriots but it doesn’t mean he’s given up on following the Reds and Bengals.

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So relax, social media warriors. Players who spent significant time in Boston can still root for other teams. That’s ok! In the end, we’re all sports fans who can relate to growing up cheering for the hometown team.