By Paul Tennant
HAVERHILL — Even before you enter the home Raymond Hennessey shares with his wife, Terri, a large sign on the door lets you know you're in Patriots country.
Once you step inside, the hats — 84 of them — and banners, pictures, jerseys, jackets, rugs, cups, emblems, collages and other mementoes are everywhere.
A miniature set of bleachers — yes, bleachers — decorated with Patriot logos sits in the living room, in front of a 47-inch television set. The bleachers, created from scratch by Terri Hennessey, can comfortably sit six people.
That's convenient, because whenever the Patriots are playing, the Hennesseys don't just have a few people over. It's more like 40 to 50, they said.
Besides the 47-inch screen, there's another 65-inch TV at the other end of the living room. By the way, these gatherings are sober. No booze is allowed at the Hennesseys' Patriot parties. There's plenty of food, though.
When the group of friends assemble for The Game on Sunday, they'll head for another person's house, because the Hennesseys' living room won't be large enough to handle the crowd, Ray Hennessey said.
"We're taking the bleachers along for good luck," he said.
New England's team has played a very significant role in this couple's life. At half time in the Patriots' last Super Bowl in 2008 — with the Pats leading — Ray proposed to Terri.
As just about everyone knows, the Giants went on to win that game in the final seconds, 17-14. The disappointment, however, did not keep Ray and Terri from tying the knot.
Ray Hennessey said he has been a dedicated Pats fan "since I was a kid." Back in those days, the Boston Patriots played at Fenway Park. The team's logo featured a Minuteman with a football.
In that more humble era, when the Patriots endured many a losing season, did this loyal rooter ever think his team would win a Super Bowl, let alone three?
Hennessey shook his head.
"I remember when we were called the New England Pansies," he said.
Asked what draws him to the team, he explained, "I like the word 'patriot.'"
One could certainly call Hennessey patriotic. He's a member of Rolling Thunder, a group of motorcyclists who support veterans.
His current favorite player is tight end Rob Gronkowski — and like millions of other Pats fans, he hopes "Gronk" will be healthy enough to play Sunday.
Now-retired linebacker Tedy Bruschi is another favorite and Hennessey delights in showing the picture he snapped of a smiling Bruschi holding his brother Bill Hennessey's New Hampshire registration plate, 54 PATS. Bruschi wore No. 54 during his Patriot days. The plate is among the memorabilia lining the walls of the Hennessey residence.
Beyond the living room, the bathroom features a Patriot shower curtain that has little Patriot helmets on the hooks. If you're hungry, the kitchen boasts a toaster that brands the Pats' "flying Elvis" logo on an English muffin or a slice of bread.
Ray, 52, and Terri, 48, reside with their children, Melissa Dill, 18, and David Dill, 9. They're all Patriots fans and so is their cat, Zelda, who sleeps on a Patriots blanket.
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