Feb 01, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
The Super Bowl, in case you’ve been living in a coral deep in the ocean, is this Sunday. And, once again, I do not care.
It’s been this way since I can remember. I’m 26 years old and a die-hard, borderline obsessive football fan. I have spent the bulk of my journalism career as a sports reporter and then as a sports editor. I used to live, breath, scratch, shower, shampoo and sleep with sports, so much so I had burned out multiple times. There was rarely a minute I wasn’t caring about some sort of athletic event. And, again, I loved it to the fullest. Sports and I had a simple, mutually beneficial relationship.
But in the case of the biggest sporting event in the country, I have a hard time caring. You see, I am a Buffalo Bills fan. There’s a picture of Bruce Smith hanging in my Man Cave, just to the right of a portrait of iconic quarterback and western New York hero Jim Kelly.
To get even more personal, I even slept with a small teddy bear that turned inside-out into a football with little Bills logos everywhere until I was 19 years old. Nineteen years old!
Some of you probably are laughing at me right now because I’m a Bills fan. The team synonymous with the transitive verb “choke”; the group of misfits who managed to storm to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s. It’s the same Bills that showed up late for each of the four Super Bowls, prompting four crushing defeats.
It’s the reason I cringe every year at the same time on that mid-winter Sunday. The Super Bowl has become far less a super game and more like a toilet bowl. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999 but there have been plenty of teaser seasons, especially this past one when they started out 5-2, notching a huge victory over the New England Patriots, who get a chance for revenge against the New York Giants, the team that ended the Pats’ undefeated dream season in 2007.
To medicate the football-aided depression, I have come up with a way to feel at peace with the current state of my favorite team. I pick a Super Bowl team to root against based on a few factors, the first being proximity. If either team is close to Boston, I immediately decide that team must lose. Beyond that, the team draws my ire, my disdain for another team: the Boston Red Sox.
Here’s my thinking: With Foxboro being so close to the city of Boston, I figure many Pats fans are also Red Sox fans. I can’t stand it when Sox fans get to celebrate. About anything.
Therefore, based upon simple math, I am a Giants fan by default this year.
What makes it even easier is that the Patriots have tormented the Bills over the last decade. There was never any mercy shown; Brady and Co. just dominated Buffalo in every which way.
The intrigue of the rematch is perfect for a movie script. Four years ago, the big, bad Patriots came roaring into the big game with an 18-0 record, while the Giants were on a roll too. The Patriots have the world’s greatest- and best-looking quarterback in history; the Giants have a guy who no one believed in, not even his own parents. To be super cliche, it was David vs. Goliath.
Of course the little guy won, breaking the hearts of those cocky New England fans who had grown accustomed to winning titles in football and baseball.
Here we are, four years later. The Patriots haven’t won a title since. Coincidentally, neither have the Red Sox. Manning has propelled himself to a top-tier signal caller, jumping to the same plane as Brady. Yet even with a title and a shot at another, Manning still has his doubters even though with a win he will have two times as many Super Bowl rings as his otherworldly brother Peyton. He would also have one fewer than I-can-do-no-wrong Brady.
If Eli can continue to play with that Pringle on his shoulder, the Giants should be able to get this victory. But there’s no David Tyree this year, the receiver for the Giants’ version of The Catch. Other than that, this New York team can validate its status by winning another, helping this limping Bills fan get some sort of satisfaction out of an otherwise boring game.
Oh yeah, and it would make some Red Sox fans cry. Here’s to you, Eli!
Prediction: Giants 31, Patriots -7.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.