Super Bowl Bliss
It was 2001 and the nation was still reeling from being attacked on its own soil. And if deemed by fate, a scrappy bunch of no-names rebounded from a 1-3 and the loss of their starting quarterback to shock the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and win the Super Bowl. The Patriots were all about team. We were told over and over- they were everything that was right about sports. In 2001, outside of St. Louis, just about everyone was pulling for New England.
Their head coach was a genius- maybe the best of all-time. He won two Super Bowls for Bill Parcells with his defensive game plans. He took a team that appeared without ego and won three Super Bowls himself. He attached himself to a rookie who became Joe Montana reborn.
And flash-forward to the 2007 season, it is hard not to infuse sports metaphor with the country’s sense of itself. In 2001, for many the war against terror appeared right and just. Those who questioned President Bush were questioned themselves. Just ask the Dixie Chicks how a brief off the cuff comment on a stage in London affected their income and fan base. Now it turns out that the reports and research that got the country into a war in Iraq weren’t true. And now it appears Bill Belichick may have cheated to win that Super Bowl against the Rams. It also puts doubts of the Patriots being the hardest working team as real.
Today in 2008, outside of New England, not many were pulling for the Patriots. What was once good and pure had turned ugly. The Patriots may have been cheaters. They liked to run up the score. They were arrogant and no longer what was right about sports. And yet here they were on the brink of perfection and about to be crowned the best team of all-time.
I told myself before the game, I would not get emotionally involved. That didn’t last through the first quarter. In the middle of the fourth quarter and the Giants ahead 10-7, I was filled with dread. I was worried this would be another almost and Brady would lead the Patriots to victory and sure enough they marched down the field and scored a touchdown. And of all people, Randy Moss – one of the poster boys of what is wrong with sports- caught the go-ahead touchdown.
And then Eli Manning pulled his Houdini escape and lofted a pass to David Tyree- and this kid nearly no one had heard of- made a catch that could surpass Lynn Swann as the most famous in Super Bowl history.
And somehow and someway, the Giants knocked off the juggernaut. My faith in sports temporarily restored. I celebrated a Super Bowl win that could only be matched if the Browns themselves would win one.
Football is just football and metaphoring to war is silly I know, but for one night it was fun to see arrogance slapped around and brought to its knees.