With only a few hours until kickoff, here are my main thoughts/feelings/takeaways leading in to Super Bowl LI:
This is the second year in a row where I can’t say I really care a whole lot about who actually wins the game. Obviously the Bears are my number one team, but I’m also a Pacific Northwest resident, so I root for the Seahawks as long as doing so in no way hurts the Bears. (This has not been a post-season issue for several years….)
I’d also love to see Detroit win one at some point since my dad is from there, and because they never have before. But after that? Meh.
I do think this matchup will be more exciting than last year though, simply because we’ve got two great quarterbacks at the top of their game, and I’m expecting a lot of explosive offensive plays.
Greatness and History
I don’t actually hate the Patriots. In fact, I sort of like them. This is quite a sacrilegious statement coming from anyone who doesn’t reside in one of the six New England states, I know. I have countless friends and family members who break out into anger-induced hives at the mere mention of Brady, Belichick, or the Pats. (A visceral hatred that’s only grown since the election, which I’ll talk about a bit more below.)
Part of my admiration might stem from the fact that my dad has always been a Brady fan, even from his days at University of Michigan. Before Trump was president, before “Deflategate” was a thing, my dad and I liked watching Tom Brady just because he’s Tom Brady, and he’s a damn good QB. I also just love great football, and the Patriots have been the epitome of greatness for more than a decade. Their success is beyond impressive, and you have to tip your cap to all that they’ve been able to achieve.
With greatness also comes the making and breaking of history. If the Patriots win today Tom Brady will have won his fifth Super Bowl title, breaking the record of four he shares with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, and likely cementing his status as the GOAT. I just watched Roger Federer and Serena Williams further solidify their places as the GOATs of tennis this last weekend at the Australian Open, and it was a cool thing to witness. It might be kind of cool to see Brady do the same.
The Politics of it All
I’m not sure there’s ever been a Super Bowl that’s been so politically charged before. Certainly not in my lifetime. In the last year the Patriots have basically become synonymous with Donald Trump. So much so that some people are of the opinion if you like the Pats you like Trump, or at the very least, are tacitly condoning him in some ill-defined way.
Ever since the election, Belichick, and more often Brady have been asked to explain and expand on their relationship to President Trump (I hate even typing that as a real thing). Both have been characteristically reticent, and Brady specifically doesn’t really want to talk about it. Frankly though, it’s his own damn fault the subject keeps coming up in the first place.
He was the one who decided to prominently display his “Make America Great Again” cap in his locker room, and then comment to the press that it’d be pretty cool if Trump became president because then there’d be a putting green on the White House lawn. (Oh, to be that rich and out of touch!) Granted this was way back during the beginning of the Republican primary, and no one, probably not even Brady, thought Trump had any chance of actually winning the nomination, let alone the presidency. Yet, tragically, here we are.
Since that time, Brady has kept pretty mum on the subject. In fact he hasn’t even come out publicly to say he voted for Trump (though Trump has insisted on multiple occasions that Brady did in fact vote for him, and gave him permission to make that information public, which Brady has also never confirmed).
Regardless, until Brady comes out and actually renounces Trump in any sort of substantial way (the likelihood of him doing so is slim) most people are going to assume he, along with Belichick, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, are firmly in Trump’s camp. Add to that the fact that the Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, is on record as traditionally supporting Democrats, and that Trump recently feuded with Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, the Falcons have sort of become an emblem of the democratic resistance to the Patriots’ Trumpian authoritarianism. When you’re not super invested in either team, you look for whatever reason you can to pick a side to root for, and political affiliation is just as good a reason as me rooting for Carolina last year because Ron Rivera was once a Bear. It’s just not something I find personally compelling in this case.
Here’s the thing: I hate that Donald Trump is president. I didn’t vote for him, I don’t support him, and I’m horrified by what he’s doing and what he might do these next four years as our POTUS. I’m disappointed (and frankly bewildered) whenever I hear someone I admire supporting him and/or his policies. That being said, I can’t seem to get myself too worked up over Trump’s Patriot connections. It certainly doesn’t seem like reason enough not to root for them.
The fact is, in a league populated by rich white dudes, I’d wager a significant number of guys involved at every level of each team voted for Trump. Likewise, there are bound to be guys on both teams (like former Bear and current Patriot TE Martellus Bennett) that definitely do NOT support Trump, and feel worried about the future he has in store for our country and our children. If you like football, and you have a favorite team, you’re rooting for at least a few guys who firmly believe Donald Trump is going to Make America Great Again. Hell, Jay Cutler was practically beaming when he talked about his support for Trump the day after the election, and I thought he was an idiot for supporting him. But if the Bears were in the Super Bowl, you best believe I’d be rooting wholeheartedly for that idiot to bring the trophy back to Chicago. Can you really tell me if it was your team you wouldn’t do the same?
38-31 Patriots win.
It’ll be high scoring game of decent caliber, with the Pats ultimately pulling it out and making history. Also, Lady Gaga WILL do something at half-time that will cause Bill O’Reilly to absolutely lose his mind on Monday’s show.