I’ve watched every Super Bowl since its inception. I still remember that for me the most compelling aspect of Super Bowl I, a blowout of the Chiefs by the Vince Lombardi Packers, was that it was televised on both CBS and NBC televised it and you could flip your dial and see it on two channels.
But after 51 consecutive years, I won’t even watch Super bowl LII. Some of this has to do with the insufferable aspects of any NFL broadcast but my lack of enthusiasm is mainly prompted by the two teams involved.
Among the reasons the Patriots have been so successful is that they essentially get a regular season bye into the AFC title game. Tom Brady’s lifetime regular season record against the Buffalo Bills is 28-3, the Jets 25-7, the Dolphins 21-10. Yes, this type of dominance can result from an extraordinary skill level but it is also because the Bills are perpetually horrid, the Jets almost as bad and the Dolphins a mediocre, at best, for years.
The Pats get five or six guaranteed wins merely by showing up against these three teams and only need to win another six out of ten to make the playoffs but also get home field advantage for most if not all of the playoffs. Put the Pats in the AFC North or NFC East and have them play the Steelers and Ravens twice a year, every year, and the results would be a lot different. A more competitive regular season would take a lot more out of the Pats and mean more road playoff games and losses.
That the Pats only had one tough playoff game, against Jacksonville no less, is another annoying aspect of their success this year. Predictably, as in virtually all important Patriot games (Google “Tuck Rule” here) the refs played an unacceptable role in the outcome of the game.
Jacksonville technically did take too much time in a critical second quarter play that negated a late first down that would have made a crucial Pats TD impossible. But any veteran fan knows that the officials always pause at least a beat and frequently longer before making that call. Not this time. And the Jacksonville fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that was inexplicably blown dead was an especially egregious mistake. Add in the Pats one penalty (the fewest since the Pats one penalty in the 2011 title game, hmmm….) to the Jaguars six, including two monster pass interference calls and this was beyond the refs making some bad calls, it was the refs dictating the outcome of the game.
I’m not saying that there’s an open conspiracy among league executives to favor the Patriots, but I’ve had it with the inordinate influence NFL refs have over the outcome of games, and especially Patriot games. This year’s utter incompetence was the worst, with numerous Patriots opponents having touchdowns overruled on the basis of arcane rulebook minutia that only a Federal District Court Judge could understand.
In past years, tuning in to root against the Patriots in the Super Bowl would have been enough. Not this year. I retain a longtime, personally intense dislike of the Eagles and their fan base, the most hostile and unpleasant in all of the sports world. Evidence here includes the need to keep a judge and court at their home stadium to attempt to quell fan misbehavior, beating a Redskin mascot half to death and stealing his headdress, and the idolization of individuals like Buddy Ryan, who put bounties on opposing players and coached the team during the 1990 “Body Bag Game” against the Redskins. (His teams also went 0-3 during the playoffs.)
Another annoying aspect of Eagle fans is their delusional state. This is a franchise that hasn’t won a title in fifty-seven years, their last MVP was Norm Van Brocklin and one of their only two previous Super Bowl appearances resulted in a beat down in which their franchise QB, Ron Jaworski, was intercepted three times by the same linebacker.
Despite this inconsequential history, it’s always necessary to take extreme caution around Eagle fans. If you live in southern California, there are plenty of sports bars that pipe in every NFL game and fan bases from around the country are well represented.
My repeated experience has been that Eagle fans will spend the first quarter focused on the game, but, as the alcohol flows so do the insults to their opponents’ fans. “YOUR TEAM SUCKS!!!!” is a pretty standard chant by the third quarter and by the fourth especially if the Eagles are destined for a loss, anything can happen. Beers tossed at opposing fans, physical threats and even parking lot brawls are not uncommon. I’ve come to believe that the Eagles’ lack of a Super Bowl title is partly the result of some appropriate karma designed to collectively punish the rabid fan base.
Sometime on Sunday, one of these two teams will walk away with the NFL championship, but for me watching this game is an impossibility. With ratings in the championship game round already down eight percent from last year, my guess is that I’ll have plenty of company.