Patriots season ticket holder Ryan O'Toole spent hours in the parking lot outside Gillette Stadium this morning – but he wasn't tailgating. Instead of enjoying the usual pre-game festivities, he had a quiet morning, arriving in Foxborough from his home in South Boston just before 6 a.m. He waited for Dunkin' Donuts to open, got a coffee and then went back to his car to wait some more. Finally, at 10 a.m., the moment he had been anticipating arrived: the doors to the Patriots ProShop were unlocked.
Ryan was among the first group let into the store to buy the brand new, limited-edition Patriots Lunar Force 1 sneaker, which sold out in just minutes.
"I loved the bedazzled ones," he said of Robert Kraft's and Ty Law's custom Air Force 1s. "Then I saw it [the Lunar Force 1] and last night I was like, 'There's no way I'm going into work. I just can't. I have to be there.'"
The coveted shoe, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, was designed by Nike in partnership with Robert Kraft, who sports comfy Air Force 1s whether at a football game or glamorous gala. It is the brand's first footwear collaboration with a team owner.
To mark the special occasion, Mr. Kraft made a surprise appearance at the ProShop this morning, much to the delight of fans like Ryan who waited for hours to buy the shoes.
"I just can't believe it," Ryan said after meeting the Patriots owner. "I was shaking. I couldn't even get my credit card out of my wallet. My heart's still pounding."
Other fans were equally as excited by the experience.
"I was so shocked," recalled Devon Read, who was the first person in line. "I saw a car [pull up] and I was like, 'No way. There's no possible way.'"
But, yes, it was Mr. Kraft. The man of the hour spent time chatting with fans just before the store opened and then signed the first few pairs sold, including Devon's and Ryan's.
"I'm going to put them up on my shelf," Devon said. "At first I thought, 'Maybe I'll wear them,' but you can never wear a pair of Robert Kraft signed Air Force 1s."
"Before I got them I said, 'The only time I'm wearing these is in my house on Sundays," he said. "Now I definitely can't because I got them signed. This is the greatest thing I've ever gotten. It was definitely worth the drive and worth waking up for."