Ahead of Sunday Night Football, arguably the most-anticipated game of the regular season, NBC shared Patriots fans reacting to Tom Brady's return to Foxborough. It was just a simple quote graphic. It shouldn't have been much more than pregame filler before a big game.
In an instant, "Schwartzy" (actually spelled Schwartzie) from Ashland resonated with Patriots fans.
It might have been her Bruce Armstrong jersey or her cool demeanor as she posed in her 1977 Dodge Monaco, affectionately named "The Beast." It might have been her honesty, saying: "I'll cheer from [Tom Brady] when he comes out. But after that, nah. I want some sacks. I want to see our frigging linebackers just pummel them and punish him."
Whatever it was, within moments Kathy "Schwartzie" Schwartz was a sensation.
"This is just so silly ... I can't believe people are listening to the stupid things coming out of my mouth," she said.
While tailgating with friends before the Saints game, Schwartzie said she saw an NBC crew wandering the parking lots. "The Beast" tends to attract attention, so naturally, the cameras found their way over. She did an interview and then a photographer had Schwartzie pose inside of her car.
"I was super hyper because this way my first regular season game back at Gillette because I had missed the home opener," she said. "I was thinking The Beast will finally get recognition and that will be that. Maybe I'll make the cut. Maybe I won't."
Obviously, Schwartzie made the cut.
She was attending Sunday night's game with friends, and with the rain, she had, for the most part, kept her phone tucked away. During the game, season ticket holders and friends in her section let her know she was trending. It wasn't until later Schwartzie realized the extent. It was everywhere.
"Was it a slow news day? Everybody was finally tired of talking about Tom," she said with a laugh. "Thank God it was a Sunday night game because I automatically took Monday off. Honestly, if I had to work Monday, I wouldn't be working or I'd be ignoring everybody."
The image and the quote took off almost immediately Sunday, and ultimately, Schwartzie thinks it all resonated because it was the true fan sentiment.
"I didn't pull any punches on it, and I think you know it probably struck a chord with people. We love Tom Brady, but you don't play for the Patriots anymore so it game on. It's football," she said. "I wouldn't say Tom's like every other opponent because you are the greatest of all time and you will probably be playing for many, many more years. When it comes down to it, you're the opponent now."
Ultimately, Matt Judon did get a sack on Brady, and Schwartzie said she was ecstatic.
"I love a good linebacker sack," she said.
Before the memes and the social media attention Sunday night, Schwartzie was already something of a local football legend. She played with the Boston Militia (now, the Boston Renegades) from 2009 to 2011, a stint that included two Women's Football Alliance Championships.
Now, she is the voice of the Renegades, serving as the team's announcer. She is beloved by the team and their loyal fans, known for her energetic spirit, colorful commentary and her famous pulled pork, which is sold at the concession stands on game days. Back in July, Schwartzie even flew out to Canton, Ohio, with the Renegades on the Patriots team plane to their third-straight (and sixth overall) championship.
She is already the heartbeat of one New England football team, and now the fanbase of the other is learning exactly who Schwartzie is.
Having played on both the offensive and defensive line, it isn't a surprise Schwartzie was hoping for some pressure on Brady.
"I think we've seen in the past that when Brady's rushed and hurried, you get on his nerves," she said. "He's not going to play as well. I don't know if it's getting into his psyche or what but you get to him, literally and figuratively."
While much of the reaction has been positive, Schwartzie said there were a few trolling comments, as is to be expected on social media.
"There are definitely some people who are like, 'I bet this person has never even played football,'" she said. "Nope, I've played for three years and got two championship rings. How about you?"
All in all, Schwartzie is taking her newfound fame in stride and with good humor.
"It's tongue in cheek," Schwartzie said. "Laugh a little. It's football."