Video: Patriots fan wears her heart on her leg

Marisa Maldonado

Every Sunday during football season, Mary Carroll puts on her New England Patriots jersey, snuggles up with her blue Patriots blanket, drinks a glass of chardonnay and watches her favorite team play.

Last week she took her devotion to a new level.

The Griswold resident, who had her leg amputated in 1993 because of a club foot, received a custom-made prosthesis — laminated with a blue-and-red Patriots pattern. Now, she says, she can cheer her team all year round.

Carroll, 62, said more and more amputees are choosing to use their prosthetics as a mode of creative expression.

"They’re proud that they’ve gone on and are not sitting in a wheelchair, and want to get on with their lives,” she said. “They do unique things with their legs.”

Carroll needed a new prosthesis after losing 90 pounds because of gastric bypass surgery. So she went to a fabric store and spent $1.85 for red and blue fabric with the Patriots’ name and mascot.

Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, the New London-based company that made the prosthesis, laminated the fabric on to the leg for free. The prosthesis cost $8,000, which was covered by insurance, Carroll said.

Mark Lynch, the manager of Hanger, said 99 percent of his clients choose a flesh-colored prosthesis. Some, however,  have requested patterns, such as the Harley Davidson logo or flowers.

Carroll is the first patient to request a Patriots-patterned prosthesis, Lou Passariello, a certified prosthetic orthodist at Hanger, said. Passariello, a longtime Giants fan, said he tried to persuade Carroll to choose a fabric for the New York-based team, but she refused.

“She certainly is a Patriots fan, and lets me know every chance she gets,” Passariello said. “I think the leg was a good way to stick it in my face.”

During the fittings, Carroll said Passariello would pop his head in from time to time to check on her progress.

“He kept saying, ‘You’re going to have trouble with your leg, because it doesn’t have Giants on it,’ ” Carroll said.

Carroll said she has followed the Patriots for years, but began following football more closely while  living in Pittsburgh in the 1990s. She rooted for the Steelers, except when they faced the Patriots.

Her entire family are Patriots fans, including her sister, Jodie, who lives in Michigan and her grandson, Brian, a Marine serving in Iraq.

Carroll keeps a portrait of her grandson near her television. She said he watches the Patriots in Iraq, although she’s not sure the games are live.

“When I watch the games, I know he’s watching, too,” Carroll said. “It makes me feel close to him.”

She’ll watch Sunday’s Super Bowl game on the high definition television in her bedroom.

“It’s going to be an edge-of-the-seat game,” Carroll said. “They’re going to fight hard.”

Reach Marisa Maldonado at 425-4255 or

Norwich Bulletin