Michael Groves, a carpenter during the week, transforms into someone else entirely ahead of New England Patriots games.
Groves is a Patriots superfan. His garish face paint, foot-high mohawk and eclectic wardrobe have made him a familiar spectacle at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
This week, Groves has been a popular man in Minneapolis, where the Patriots are set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl LII on Sunday. Turning heads everywhere he goes, the Boston resident is a walking photo-op.
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“Everyone loves me when they see me in my getup,” Groves says. “Everyone loves the outfit, everyone loves the makeup.”
NBC 10 Boston spent Friday with Groves to see what it takes to be a Patriots superfan.
Downtown Minneapolis, 9 a.m.:
Groves shuffles around his hotel room wearing glasses and a Kid Rock T-shirt. He has yet to change into his outfit, but there are hints of what’s to come. Two suits with Patriots logos hang in the closet along with other Patriots gear. A Tom Brady jersey lays folded on the couch; pairs of Patriots sneakers are lined up on the carpet.
Groves says his superfan persona came together quickly. When he became a season ticket holder two years ago, he began wearing makeup and a wig. He soon took it to another level, spiking his hair and ordering tailored Patriots suits.
“I was looking for something different to do... spice it up a little bit,” Groves says.
After deciding his plan for the day, Groves selects his outfit: A Tom Brady jersey, a gray Patriots suit, “light-up” sneakers with LED lights, and gloves featuring the “Flying Elvis” logo.
Groves places three towels (with Patriots logos, naturally) in the bathroom sink to begin his transformation. He then applies a generous amount of hair product, and with a blow dryer and comb, shapes his hair into a stiff wall bisecting his skull.
Next, he sets up the air compressor he will use to spray paint on his face and head. Looking in the mirror, he expertly sprays an even coat of bright red paint on his skin.
“Just red today,” he says. “I did blue and red yesterday. I don’t like to be the same every single day. I like to change it up a little bit, you know what I mean?”
Using a marker, he etches three Patriots catchphrases on his head - “Blitz for Six,” “Not Done” and “Do Your Job.”
Minneapolis Convention Center, 11 a.m.:
We make our way through Skyway, Minneapolis’ system of enclosed bridges, toward the Super Bowl 52 Experience, an interactive park for fans at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Even before we arrive, Groves is in demand. He smiles back at the people staring at him, and most of them smile and praise his outfit. Many ask for photos, including one police officer at a security gate.
“I gotta have a picture of you,” the officer says.
Groves weaves his way through the Super Bowl 52 Experience, which offers hands-on skills challenges like field goal kicking and obstacle courses.
People continue to take photos with him, including one woman who throws her arm around him and takes a selfie while kissing his cheek. Fans from across the country approach Groves, who obliges them with a smile and a photo.
Groves even chats with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who praises his outfit.
Mall of America, 2:30 p.m.:
Throughout the day, Groves reflects on his time rooting for the Patriots.
Groves began watching Patriots games with his father at a young age, and he remembers the times before Tom Brady and Bill Belichick created a football dynasty.
“I’ve been with them in the tough times,” he says, crediting owner Robert Kraft with changing the culture of the organization.
We’re now at the Mall of America, which serves as the hub of media activity for the Super Bowl. After a quick bite at the food court, Groves begins winding his way around Radio Row, where hundreds of media members and former players are busy filling the airwaves.
Groves is joined by his friend, John, who has the signatures of Brady, Belichick and Kraft tattooed on his bicep. As they weave through the crowd, Groves continues to stop for photos.
A man dressed up as a Viking – whose outfit is as elaborate as Groves’ – introduces himself and stops for photos. Several media outlets request interviews and photos with the Patriots superfan.
Later, Groves prepares to drive to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to pick up a friend. Later in the evening, they plan to attend a Super Bowl party downtown – and there’s more planned for the weekend.
“I still have two more days of doing this, so I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “It’s all in fun.”
Groves reflects on what it means to be a superfan.
“It’s about having a good time, supporting your team, meeting nice people and having a good time,” he says. “That’s what’s happening here (in Minnesota).”