The Sports Page: Renting a Team
Every year around this time I am faced with a question: whom should I support in the Super Bowl? Since my natural team, the Cleveland Browns, have never reached the Super Bowl (sigh) I am forced to briefly align myself with another team’s colors. I call it “Renting a Team.” I only need to support this club for about three hours on a Sunday in February and then I can return them to the proverbial dealership. Some seasons the decision is easier than others. For example, last year I watched proudly as the righteous Green Bay Packers smote the villainous Pittsburgh Steelers and restored balance to the Force (perhaps I exaggerate). Anyway, this year’s matchup pits an unlikeable team in the New England Patriots against an unbearable fanbase, the New York Giants. This decision is proving difficult so I have created the following criteria to help me decide who should get my very valuable support on February 5.
The last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl was all the way back in the 2004 season. Eight days after the win, YouTube launched. Coincidence? Yes, yes it is. That was the third title of the decade for the Pats, and third total championship. New York, meanwhile, won Super Bowl XLII which followed the 2007 season. That’s right; there are four year olds who have never seen the Giants lift the Lombardi Trophy. A nation weeps. Those four-year-olds have however seen a New York Yankees World Series victory so I am sure that held them over. Honestly, both these cities are spoiled beyond reason. Boston has won 35 titles which is a lot except when compared to New York’s gaudy 55. In the past decade alone Beantown has hosted seven parades and New York has had three. However, New England has technically had the longer wait so they hold the advantage for now. New England – 1, New York – 0.
Some very influential people in a Nevada desert have declared the Pats early three point favorites over the G-Men. I know little about gambling and even less about spreads but I know one thing for sure: the Underdog is cool. When David plays Goliath, no one roots for Goliath. Of course in this case Goliath is about 7’9” compared to David’s miniscule 7’8”. Still, New England – 1, New York -1.
I was worried too much emphasis was being put on numbers so let’s take a more aesthetic approach. Going purely on logos, New York is pretty unimaginative. Two lowercase letters, “n” and “y” with the second letter’s tail forming an underline. New England meanwhile sports a decapitated head with either a long hat or flowing mane. Their old AFL logo, however, is a thing of beauty. A colonial center squats in a three-point stance over the ball with a look that says, “hey NFL, watch this.” I’m a sucker for AFL and ABA logos so this one goes to the Pats. New England – 2, New York – 1.
For the next two weeks I expect the media will be playing out one angle more than any other: the rematch of Super Bowl XLII. In case you missed it, the Patriots entered that game an unprecedented 18-0 in search of the first perfect season since the NFL expanded to 16 games. That New England team was beyond stacked. Quarterback Tom Brady had just polished off an MVP/offensive player of the year season. Oakland castoff Randy Moss returned from the dead and zombie-caught an NFL record 23 touchdowns. There were a total of five all-pros on the roster and they were understandably favored to win. Los Gigantes were not even supposed to be there. They finished the regular season 10-6 and were the five seed. The club quickly became road warriors by springing upsets at Tampa Bay, at Dallas, and capped off conference play with an overtime win over an aging Brett Favre in snowy Green Bay. Then the Big Game arrived. With less than three minutes remaining in the contest, New England led 14-10. Eli Manning led the Giants down the field using skill, guile, and the finest helmet catch of all time. He found Plaxico Burress in the endzone for the deciding score with 35 seconds to go. With all this in mind, I would rather the Pats not win. If they did, all the subsequent talk would surround, a potential “tie breaking game” as if the NFL were their own private best of three series. This rental is annoying enough as it is and I would rather not repeat it next year. New England – 2, New York – 2.
When in doubt, root for the Buckeyes. It’s simple, natural, and best of all this year it’s easy. New England does not have any Ohio State alumni on its roster. The Giants meanwhile suit up Jim Cordle at center and use Jake Ballard as a tight end. So while rooting for anything New York related may seem strange, just remember that if the Giants win then two Buckeyes win. New England – 2, New York – 3.
So there you have it. My scientific and exact science has determined that the New York Giants will be my team in Super Bowl XLVI. Oh, and just in case this has not yet convinced you, remember one thing: Tom Brady went to Michigan.