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Out-of-state Patriots fan scrambles after NFL flexes Week 15 Chiefs game

FOXBORO, Mass — Many Patriots fans flying in for the Week 15 Chiefs game originally scheduled for Dec. 18, are scrambling to rearrange their plans after the NFL flexed the team out of its Monday night slot.

New England will now host Kansas City the day before – on Sunday at 1 p.m., one hour before Kansas resident and die-hard Patriots fan Hernan Zapata arrives in Boston – 30 miles from Gillette Stadium.

Zapata, a college student and bartender, has been saving up for his big trip for months. Calling it a Christmas gift to himself, he dropped nearly $1,000 on flights for himself and his Chiefs fan friend, tickets for the big game and an Airbnb.

“I felt my heart drop, because I was like, no way. I went home, and I would lie to you if I told you I did not shed any tears because I was so upset,” Zapata told Boston 25 News over Zoom Friday. “We fly in on Sunday… We have luggage, of course, we have the Airbnb to check into. So, it’s like, all these small complications really just kind of ruined what I had been planning for months.”

The Patriots are the first team to be flexed out of Monday Night Football. This was the first year that ESPN’s primetime slot could come be flexed.

A decision on Monday games must be made at least 12 days before kickoff.

The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs have been making headlines for more than their division-leading record. Tight end Travis Kelce’s romance with pop star Taylor Swift has been the hottest headline involving the NFL.

Despite hailing from Kansas and being a self-declared Swifty, Zapata still supports his 2-9 Patriots during this struggling season.

“I wear my Patriots jerseys every day in Kansas City, probably one of the worst places you can wear it,” said Zapata, who became a fan of all Boston sports as a child, watching quarterback Tom Brady.

Zapata said he cannot change his flight or get it refunded. Without the means to book another one, he is still coming to Boston, but he said he may end up watching the game at a bar. Whatever the circumstances, he and his friend will make the most of their trip.

“I’ve never been to Boston. This is like a bucket list goal of mine,” Zapata said. “I’ve always wanted to feel like I was there, like a true Patriots fan. So, it’s like a big inconvenience, but we’re still going to go and try to figure everything out.”

Zapata knows the odds are against the Patriots, but he believes the game is winnable.

“It’s the NFL. If a team shows up, we’ve seen crazier stories. Anything’s possible,” Zapata said. “If we won that game, it would be a whole flight home of me bragging to my buddy, ‘Hey, remember when we went to Boston to watch the Chiefs lose? I remember that.’”

The Week 15 game will now air on Boston 25 on Dec. 17, at 1 p.m.

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