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Where to Watch: Patriots vs. Chargers

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Wall-to-Wall Patriots fans pack Sonny McLean's Every Sunday

NFL franchise or not, Los Angeles is filled with football fanatics. Many of these fans have relocated to LA from all corners of the country, bringing with them their devotion for the home team of city they left behind. Rather than sitting in the confines of their living room and watching their boys battle it out on the gridiron, many transplants have found a sanctuary in the form of a sports bar dedicated to their hometown team.

One win away from seeing their team take a trip to the Super Bowl; Patriots and Chargers fans will make their way to their bars tomorrow to eat, drink and root for their team.

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With the Chargers just a drive down the 5 away, Bolts fans might have luck finding each other in pretty much any sports bar in LA. Many of them however, have used the power of the message board to gather up at Hollywood sports bar, Big Wangs. Big Wangs (1562 N. Cahuenga Blvd.) doesn't have a sports team or crowd associated with it, as far as I know, but tomorrow at noon it will be filled with fans eating some of their delicious wings and pulling for Ladainian Tomlinson and the Chargers to shock the world.

Meanwhile in Santa Monica, Boston transplants wil gather around the TVs at Sonny McLeans (2615 Wilshire Blvd) to see if Tom Brady and the Patriots can chalk up another victory on their path to perfection. After the jump, we interview the man who brought Beantown to the Westside, Sonny's owner Jimmy Connors.

What does it feel like to be a Boston sports fan right now? How hard has it been adjusting from being the lovable losers to becoming probably the most hated people in sports right now?
Its actually fun after years and years of losing. Patriots have been awful and you know the story of the Red Sox. Celtics haven't won anything in a while. So this has been a lot of fun seeing our teams win championships. I'll take the hate over the pain of losing.

How long have you been living in LA? What made you want to open the bar?

12 years now. I moved out here from Foxboro, MA. I was managing a bar in Santa Monica called the Boat House, back then we didn't have DIRECTV for the Red Sox but we could watch Patriots on one of the small TVs in the corner but they were awful. Here in LA I knew there was a Steelers bar and Dolphins bar and a couple other teams so I thought it would probably be a good idea to open a Boston sports bar.

Describe the vibe of a Sunday watching the Patriots play at Sonny's?

Crazy. The Santa Monica Fire Department now requires us to take reservations. If we start taking reservations at 11:30 by 11:35 we're sold out. Every chair in the bar is accounted for. We fill up two other bars on the street with the fans who weren't able to get in. Those bars love us. The night the Red Sox won the first World Series, we had a helicopter flying above us. There were three news stations down here. When we beat the Yankees in 2004, our crowd stormed the street and held up traffic for an hour.

When I have people in town from Boston, one of the first places they ask about going to is Boston. How's it make you feel that your bar has become a must-see landmark for many Bostonians who vacation out here?
It's great. The other day it was early around 9am and I was doing some work around the bar. This older couple who was on vacation was standing outside the bar and said they were headed back to Boston but they wanted to check out the place before they took off. They told me "this place is more famous than Cheers." It was really neat hearing that but there's no way we're more famous than Cheers. We opened the place up and gave them a nice little tour before they headed off to the airport. Owning this bar has been a really cool experience though because of stories like that.

I am one of the few non-Patriots fans who are pulling for the Pats to win, mostly because of my man crush on Randy Moss (I'm a Vikings fan). How much fun has it been watching him this season? What was your and your patrons' reaction when he became a Patriot? How do you feel about the recent news about Randy?
From what I gathered we were all pretty much fired up. Brady's been winning football games with no receivers, now we went out and got him one of the best. I don't care about what he does off the field. I am not like Bob Kraft's wife. As long as he does what he does on the field I don't care what he does off the field. As far as this recent situation it's like Randy said nothing's been proven yet, he's innocent until proven guilty. Just my gut, I don't think he did it. He's got too much going for him. He's been great all season, he's stayed out of trouble. Brady has been great for him. He broke the record this year. I just can't see him throwing all that away.

How crushed were you and your patrons over the New England Revolution losing the MLS Cup?

We couldn't find the channel the game was on so we didn't watch. There kind of like the Buffalo Bills of soccer though, they can't win the big one.

Of the famous Boston transplants, who's gone too Hollywood?

I don't know. You got any?

Dane Cook?

Oh yeah. Definitely. We had this celebrity bartender event for charity a little while back and I contacted him to see if he'd be interested in participating. He didn't bother getting back to me, he had his personal assistant get back to me and all he wants to know is "Who's going to be there?" Who cares, right? It's for charity. Come on.

To someone who is reading this and is a Patriots fan and for some reason has never been to Sonny's tell them why they should.

Most people tell me its better than watching the game at home. Home is so far away from everyone, you come to LA and you want to feel like you're back home. When people first move to LA from Boston, a lot of them come here to meet people to network and make new friends. Those who have been here for a while know how hard it is when you first get to LA, we can help each other and give advice and welcome them to the city. It feels like a family here, there's lots of stories of couples who met at the bar and got married and moved back to Boston.

Give me your prediction for Sunday.

42-14 Pats?
Of course.

Photo by Megan MacLeod used with permission