So here we are again on the first Sunday in February. It’s America’s unofficial party holiday, the junk-food and wing fest known as Super Bowl Sunday.
I would like to begin by wishing both the Eagles and Patriots luck as they square off tonight at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This is the tropical paradise known as Minnesota’s second time around as Super Bowl hosts. Minneapolis became the first northern venue to host the NFL showcase when the Metrodome (which stood on the same ground) hosted Super Bowl 26 in 1992. The Redskins defeated the Bills in that game.
US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will be the backdrop for Super Bowl 52.
Over the past two weeks I have witnessed an interesting phenomenon among football fans. I like to refer to it as football fans becoming Patweary. Yes, outside of the corridor that runs from Maine to Connecticut known as New England, America has grown tired of the success of the New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been the cornerstones of the New England Patriots since 2001.
Many teams, in many sports, have dominated over extended periods of time. None more than baseball’s New York Yankees or hockey’s Montreal Canadiens. However, what the New England Patriots have accomplished is so staggering, frankly, America has grown tired of it.
Bill Belichick was hired by Patriots owner Robert Kraft following the 2000 season. Tom Brady was forced into action early in the 2001 campaign due to a season ending injury to Drew Bledsoe. The rest of the story continues to amaze, and annoy many. Under Belichick’s leadership, and Brady’s quarterbacking, the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl in 2001. Since the two have been together, New England has missed the post-season twice (2002 & 2008). They have appeared in 8 Super Bowls (including today) and have won five of them (pending today’s results).
The Philadelphia Eagles will have their second Super Bowl shot at the Patriots today. Brady and Belichick’s Patriots defeated an Eagles team led by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl 39 by the score of 24-21.
The Patriots and Eagles met in Super Bowl 39. New England won 24-21.
So here’s where Patweariness comes into play. As the Patriots finished up their AFC Championship victory with a late touchdown, the rumblings began. The Jacksonville Jaguars led, even dominated New England throughout most of the contest. The Patriots were called for a grand total of 1 penalty. 1 penalty in a hard-fought conference championship game? Seems odd to myself and many other football fans outside of New England! There were questionable calls on Jacksonville at some key moments during the game as well. Combine that with a questionable call in a late season game with the eventual second seeded Pittsburgh Steelers that cost Pittsburgh the number one seed, there are many questions by fans outside of the extreme Northeast.
Have the Patriots earned the right to get these calls? Have the officials helped the Brady and Belichick Show along the way? There is no way to know for sure, and it would be irresponsible of me to comment on it either way. What I will say is, among many avid football fans there is a tone of, well Patweariness going around. Many have said they will skip tonight’s game with the notion that “the Patriots are going to win anyway!”
The World Champion 2008 Phillies were the last team from Philadelphia to win a major championship. They would win the National League Championship the following year and lose to the Yankees in the World Series.
I for one, WILL be watching tonight’s proceedings. One thing the world of sports theater has taught me, is nothing is for certain. The flip-side of the ho-humness of another potential Patriots Super Bowl victory is the fact that the Eagles are back for the first time since Super Bowl 39 in 2005. The last time the City of Brotherly Love had a championship to get excited about was in 2009 when the Phillies lost the World Series to another dominant franchise, the New York Yankees. The Phillies did bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy the year before that.
Here’s hoping that the Eagles put a fly in the ointment tonight. Here’s a fun fact about the Patriots,New England has faced one opponent in their incredible Super Bowl run more than once. They faced the New York Giants in Super Bowls 42 & 44. The Patriots lost them both. Can they pull off a second win against the Eagles? Will the NFC East spoil another New England Chowder Fest this year? Please tune in tonight, and stay away from Patweariness!