Above Average Thoughts From An Average Guy
Five final thoughts before kickoff:
1. I’m really disappointed with my inability to work up any antipathy toward this Patriots team. The 2007 Patriots exuded that aura of dastardly cartoonish villainy, between Spygate, 18-0, and running up the score. I disliked that team so much that I was as ecstatic as any Giants fan after Super Bowl 42 just because that group didn’t have to share the undefeated season crown with a Dolphins team that accomplished the feat 13 years before I was born. The 2007 Patriots. THAT was an unlikeable team.
This year? I’m not getting flashbacks to the Evil Empire juggernaut Patriots that fueled America’s backlash against them; I’m getting the feeling of the pre-2005 Patriots, those salad days when the upstart team in the midst of a fledgling dynasty fed off being 14-point underdogs to the Rams or watching Tom Jackson propagate locker room chatter claiming the Patriots players “hate their coach.” Between their low-key demeanor, the genuine emotion they’ve felt playing for the memory of Myra Kraft, and the fact that the team is so unassuming that there really isn’t a superstar beyond Tom Brady—even being generous, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, and Vince Wilfork are the only ones that could qualify as household names—this Patriots team is, dare I say, likeable? <Throwing up in my mouth>
2. Meanwhile, the Giants have been the brash ones with the sense of swagger. It peaked with Jason Pierre-Paul’s insinuation that the Giants’ defensive line got in Tom Brady’s head the last time they met. The Giants’ sack leader told the press, ““Yeah, he was reacting to pressure that didn’t exist and he was just throwing the ball places that there wasn’t a receiver there.” It’s always smart to call out Brady.
The nadir was probably Justin Tuck grousing, “A lot of people haven’t given us a shot, and I think we kind of like it that way.” He added, “for all you oddsmakers out there, just keep rooting against us.” Yet both popular sentiment and Vegas action has been leaning heavily toward the Giants, the team that beat the Patriots both this regular season AND the last time they met in the Super Bowl. In other words, THE MAJORITY of people are not just giving them a shot, but picking them to win. I understand that people like Tuck are fueled on added motivation, but in a realistic world, this game is a pick’em. They should treat it that way.
The Giants are trying to play into a contrived, forced narrative in an attempt to re-create the backs-against-the-wall underdog status that helped propel their monumental upset four years ago. For their sake, I hope it’s working in the locker room because they’re the only ones buying that line of bullshit.
3. Wet blanket contrarians feel the need to incessantly point out how the Super Bowl is usually a dud, how conference championship weekend is better, etc. But we’ve only had 46 of these motherfuckers, and roughly half have been great and the ones that lacked drama were only because the team comfortably ahead was so fucking dominant; those dominant teams are the ones we’re still extolling to this day, such as the vaunted ’85 Bears and Fridge Perry’s touchdown—a play which came when up 37-3; if Belichick tried this tonight, Gregg Easterbrook would burn him in effigy—or Steve Young’s 6-touchdown game or Leon Lett’s gaffetastrophe, even as all these moments came in games that were ostensibly terrible. 22 of the 45 previous Super Bowls ended with margins of victory of 12 points or less; many others (notably Colts/Saints two years ago) were much closer than the final score indicated.
In addition, you’ll hear complaints about the crappy halftime shows, the overemphasis on ads, the ten-hour pregame, the fact that it’s all hype, that it’s lots of sizzle and no steak. Yet if even ONE of those aforementioned things was taken away, NFL offices would immediately be inundated with a torrent of those same fans in a state of virulent outrage that would make Occupy Wall Street look like a quaint sleepover. It’s the Super Bowl. Indulge it all.
4. For the past five years, I’ve started a tradition that I keep expecting to end, but it hasn’t yet: my cop out Super Bowl pick. By that I mean, I go on record in every pool and pick’em contest (unless I do otherwise for strategic reasons, not actual belief) to pick one team, but actually think someone else wins. You’ll often find an intrepid prognosticator who stems the tide and bucks conventional wisdom in an attempt to make the right pick, even if it’s in the minority and unpopular. I’m not one of those people. Thus, it led me to sincerely believe in my heart that the Giants would upset a worn-down Patriots team running on fumes in 2007, but I picked New England. In 2008, I picked the cinderella Cardinals to beat the juggernaut Steelers, but knew the Steelers would win. In 2009, I had no balls to go against Peyton Manning and the almost-undefeated Colts, but my gut leaned toward the Saints winning. In 2010, I picked the Steelers to put the kibosh on the Packers’ magical run, but knew Aaron Rodgers and crew would prevail. With that in mind, let’s see if the streak continues:
Who I’m picking to win: Giants 30, Patriots 24
Who will win the game: Patriots 24, Giants 20
I hope I’m wrong. Or right. I guess it depends on which one you’re looking at.
5. Yes, I came nowhere near my ambitious goal of 46 posts in 46 hours. I’ll close with a joke from comedian Steven Wright that best sums it up: “I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but not in a row.’”
You’ll get 46 posts in 46 hours. I just didn’t say which hours. And when.
Enjoy the game, everyone. And thanks to all our readers for following us during a fascinating season.
Although I’m pretty sure we’ll be discussing the NFL once or twice before September.