As the week drags on, and I hear more and more about the New England Patriots, and the accusations pile up against them, a nervous tic has begun to develop in the corner of my soul. Even though the memories of Super Bowl Extra Large have started to fade, slowly washed away by the victory a year ago, it makes me just the slightest bit uncomfortable to face the prospect of another contestable championship game. Bad Leon was the first of my friends to review the ’06 game in light of a championship season, and has rightly pointed out that yes, there was poor officiating, but that Seahawks team was also playing without testicular fortitude, keeping to a conservative game plan when they should have gone for broke. And, to be honest, I’m still a little shaken from the first three quarters of the NFC Championship. I remember the game against the Niners last year, and how it threatened to unravel me, but this year would have made me bald, were I not already so (and in a Super Bowl match-up between the number one offense versus the number one defense, my money will always be on the defense, so once we’d gotten past the Niners, I finally felt that I could sit back and enjoy the game. (That being said, I don’t think I really relaxed during the Super Bowl until the final couple of minutes, when I figured it would be mathematically impossible for the Broncos to win, even if we failed to field a team.)).
If the accusations against the Patriots stand, I would like to see someone lose their job over it, and see a public apology (the same that Robert Kraft is demanding from the NFL if they are found innocent of wrongdoing) from the smug S.O.B’s. Hell, even if no conclusive evidence is found, and it was just an amazingly preferential coincidence, I think it’s time to close the book on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It seems that every other year (okay, not quite that frequently), I’m hearing about some scandal coming out of Boston. In ’07, there was the videotaping debacle, and… okay, that was seven and a half years ago. Whatever. I’m still not convinced that the win in ’02 (just months after the towers fell), was anything more than a slickly designed bit of propaganda. Amidst the calls for war and vengeance, and the drive toward unity, which team won that year? The Patriots. Hold on, let me adjust my tinfoil cap, it’s scratching my ear a bit… Again, so far it all seems like coincidence, but coincidence makes me nervous when it comes to this time of year. It’s easy enough to drag everything out until the unthinkable happens, and then punish the culprits afterward. I still like to imagine that the Seahawks are the Team of Destiny, but dueling superstitions have a way of unbalancing a man.
But putting that all aside for just a moment, the real reason that the gnawing pit of doubt is growing in my tummy is that I will be watching the Big Game at my friend’s house this year (actually the same place I watched the Super Bowl last year), but once again, in the presence of a Pittsburgh fan. Do I think that somehow his presence will put a karmic damper on the Chickens? Not entirely. And despite being a hard-hitting team that has inspired rule changes in the NFL in an attempt to muzzle them, I choose to believe in the inherent goodness of my team. I genuinely like what I’ve seen of Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, and Earl Thomas. And Marshawn Lynch, though somewhat grumpier a man than I would care to try and get to know, has my full support (not that it’s worth that much) in his ongoing battle with the NFL regarding wardrobe choices and generally refusing to play the media game. I’m sure that there are guys who would much rather be soaking up all of the limelight than focusing on the game to come, but I personally would like everyone to keep their opinions to themselves, and get back to work. Because nothing screams “valid use of time” like reporters asking various players to reveal their team’s strategy for the biggest game of the year. “So, yeah, we figured that no one from the other team is going to pay attention, here’s exactly what you should expect to see on Sunday…” Every interview is just the same jumbled mix of ambivalent praise for their opponent and vague padded statements about how they are just focused on the game. Well, except for Bill and Tom and Bob. They also get to look super offended at the notion that they cheated. Because New England never cheats.
It’s nice to have gotten that out of my system. As someone who has forsaken the utility of flesh, the most that I will actually be contributing to my Sportsball team is my goodwill. I’ve gotten a hat and t-shirt for David, and Seahawks earrings for my wife, but none of the players will be able to actually see them, as we will be watching a football game on television, and not conversing with them via Skype (and let me just point out that even were I to have the ability to chit chat with these athletes during the game, under no circumstances would I want them to waste any of their time on me). The game will play out as it plays out. As I don’t have tickets, and I’m not even in Arizona, there is nothing that I can physically do to alter the outcome of the game.
That being said, the narrative, for me, remains the same: The Seahawks need to close the book on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Patriots. They are the team of a nation at war in Iraq. The team of a decade of doubting the patriotism of those who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. This decade needs to be about decent people (not pretty people) with a solid work ethic, and I think I know just the team to fly that banner.