If you are like me, you saw the news flash on television, Facebook and Twitter, and were horrified. An event of apocalyptic proportions was about to strike our country. People were panicking, calling and texting family and friends telling them they loved them and everything would be ok. There was running and screaming before, finally, there came an acceptance of what was about to happen to the United States. And then it happened…the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots both made it to the Super Bowl.
It is not the most horrific thing that has ever happened, but man it sure seems close. And let me be clear, as I expressed in my Super Bowl column last year (the most widely read column involving Super Bowl predictions and New Jersey gubernatorial elections ever, I might add) I am a San Francisco 49ers fan. So my animosity towards these two organizations is not football rivalry related. Instead, it is more based on the idea of UGH, just UGGGGGHHHH!
Are we really being subjected to this? Do we really have to pick between a New England team that has cheated more than Don Draper during any season of Mad Men or an Eagles team whose fan’s behavior would make a drunken sailor on leave blush? Yes, Tom Brady’s life (handsome, athletic, married to a smart, gorgeous angel) mirrors that of my own, but that does not mean I have to like him. And yes, my oldest was born in Philadelphia and my wife worked there for many years, but that does not mean I have to like Philly sports teams.
What this year’s big game is really going to come down to is a contest between which fans are going to be more insufferable, both in victory and defeat. Think about it. Eagles fans have got to be the only fan base in the entire country who would buy into the claim that their team – which finished tied for the best record in the NFL this year – was an underdog, then use that essentially made up, nonsense status to justify celebrations copied straight out of Caligula. And Eagles fans will tell you this was actually a more SUBDUED celebration than usual. They are already claiming that every section of the country, minus New England and Dallas, is rooting for them. To that, I say, “Fake news!”
Of course, the Patriots are not much better. While their cheating rubs some the wrong way, for me, as a Yankees fan, the thought of any Boston area team winning this much makes me nauseous. Not to mention, New Englanders are not exactly known for their graciousness when it comes to sports. When they were not winning anything, it was fine. But now that Boston has won title after title in this century, it is just grating.
Now, I know many people who are devoted to The Birds. They have suffered with them through years of horribleness and irrelevance (special shout out to Senator Troy Singleton, who, no matter how unwatchable or terrible his team has been, has never hidden his allegiance). So, in theory, I wish them luck. Of course, in theory communism works and the free market takes care of everything. The reality of it all is much more sinister.
If it seems like I am rambling, I guess it is because I so resent being placed in this position. In previous years, I would just sit back and hope my box pool numbers came in. This year, even the thought of winning some money off these two teams does not take away the anguish that I and millions of people feel.
This whole situation reminds me of the end of the movie The Good Son. Macaulay Culkin plays a psychotic kid who has committed horrific acts. He has been exposed by his cousin, played by Elijah Wood. In the film’s climactic scene, Culkin and Wood both hang over the edge of a cliff, each with one arm grasping onto Culkin’s mother, played by Wendy Crewson. Crewson does not have enough strength to save them both. She must either drop her nephew to save her evil son, or drop her only child to save her nephew. That is what this Super Bowl has come down to. An unthinkable choice that, no matter which why you lean, will end in heartache.
All that being said, good luck to the fans of both teams. I am sure whichever side wins, the resulting victory party will be a shining example of civility.
Chris Donnelly is a Principal at the public affairs and consulting firm Kivvit, located in Asbury Park. In his spare time, he pretends to be an author. He has written two books, Baseball’s Greatest Series: Yankees, Mariners, and the 1995 Matchup That Changed History, and How The Yankees Explain New York. A third book about the 1985 New York Yankees and Mets – which he looks forward to you buying – is due out in 2019.