Yes, the Super Bowl (LII) took place Sunday, February 4, briefly interrupted by a Justin Timberlake concert, and there is likely some federal law against ignoring either of these momentous events. Since this is the “Point of View” column, we will look at the views expressed amidst the hype in the days before the latest showcase game for (American) football. I’m writing this hours before the event, and you dear reader surely know the outcome by the time you’re reading it. So please don’t interrupt me with any spoilers.
This ends a football season in which the image of players kneeling quietly through the national anthem (protesting blue-on-black violence) became a red-meat political issue, an issue that led to some high-profile Presidential finger wagging. Vice presidential too.
Yet we’re going to leave the politics aside for the remainder of this column. The two points of view that matter are: that of Eagles’ fans, and that of Patriots’ fans. Of course there are dissidents who call down a plague on both their houses. Daily Snark calls them “the two most obnoxious fan bases in all of football.” But hey, what can one expect of a publication that calls itself the Daily Snark?
Eagles’ Fans View
Brian Dawkins thinks Philly fans are wonderful, “Hall of Fame” fans. He might know. Dawkins played safety for the Eagles for 13 seasons after a stellar college career in Clemson, and is now immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fan in Canton, Ohio.
And for Philly fans, cheering on a team that has been to only two Super Bowls, has lost both of them, and is about to play in its third, is evidently exhilarating: as flight attendants on airplanes full of them have noticed.[The Phillies lost Super Bowl XV to the Raiders in 1980, and again lost Super Bowl XXXIV to, yes, the New England Patriots in 2004.]
Daniel Victor, a reporter for The New York Times, says that the Eagles are “an extremely likeable team and the story is far more interesting” than that of the Patriots. Indeed, he devoted a lengthy tweet thread to the point, observing for example that the Eagles were “underdogs in both of their playoff games but won … now they’re underdogs again.”
Even Amazon’s Alexa is said to be predicting an Eagles victory.
Patriots’ Fans View
Andy, of the Andy Carlson Show, a Minneapolis based sports fan podcast, tweets, “It’s extremely petty, but I’ve never wanted a team to win the Super Bowl more than I want the Patriots to today. By 50.”
Patriots admirers point to the coach-quarterback partnership, the dynamic between Bill Belichik and Tom Brady, as a key reason the Patriots keep appearing in (and winning) Super Bowls.
Tony Robbins, the management/leadership guru, says on his blog that this dynamic “can teach all of us … a powerful lesson about management.” The most important thing that “freakishly successful” teams have in common is the personality of their captains.
Some of the Patriots’ admirers come from places far from New England. Like Fort Lauderdale, for example, the hometown of both James White and Philip Dorsett. White is a Patriots’ running back, drafted in the 4th round on the 2014 draft, and Dorsett is a wide receiver, acquired from the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year.
One fan enthusiastically tweeted Sunday morning, “No matter what happens tonight, New England Patriots forever! Tom Brady the greatest to ever do it at the QB position! Shoutout to the defense and Special teams for holding it down and making plays – let’s get another ring.”
Remembering Last Year
This year’s Super Bowl is also played against the vivid memory of last year’s. That one pitted the Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons. It looked very much like the Falcons were going to win in a blow-out. In the middle of the third quarter the Falcons led 28 to 3. The Patriots had put together only one decent offensive campaign in the game to that point, and they had disappointingly had to settle for a field goal even then.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the Patriots woke up. And when they did wake up, it was to stage an epic comeback to tie the score by game’s end, and to win it in overtime.
So don’t tune out of this one until somebody’s victory is fully hatched.