If El Hombre reads one more article about how much the New England area deserved to have its Red Sox and Patriots win championships, he’s going to find the author and squeeze the chowder out of him. This illusion that New Englanders have been long-suffering, just because their Red Sox happened to invent new ways to fail every season, is a complete joke. This basketball team—they’re called the Celtics and they coincidentally play in Boston—happened to win 11 titles in 13 seasons from 1957-69 (and six times after that), and the Bruins took the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, and then again in 2011. It doesn’t exactly sound like the folks up there were exactly starving for a parade.
Now the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, aiming for their fifth championship during the insufferable reign of Captain Hoodie and his minions, chief among them, Dreamy Tom Brady. Should the Pats happen to subdue Atlanta, we will hear that Brady is the greatest quarterback ever and that coach Bill Belichick is a football genius. Both of those assessments may well be true, but since New England has been caught cheating twice during its run of success, it’s hard to know whether it was engaged in other nefarious business, too.
That’s the problem with giving the Patriots sufficient credit for their success. It’s not fun to hear Steelers fans crowing about their team’s six Super Bowl victories, but Pittsburgh won its titles fairly. And only the bandwagon jumpers want to celebrate the Cowboys’ success over the years, but you have to respect the fact that from the late 1960s until the mid-90s, Dallas was just about always in the championship discussion.
New England is another story. The Patriots’ four Super Bowl victories have been accomplished under a polluted cloud of cheating and other allegations that have been belching out of the smokestacks at owner Robert Kraft’s Evil, Inc. headquarters. After the NFL smacked the franchise in the wake of its spying on rivals, the Pats continued to find an “edge,” this time through Brady’s deflating of footballs. It was a small thing, given that New England eviscerated Indianapolis in the game that brought the actions to the public, but it demonstrated the franchise’s continuing commitment to its own lax interpretation of league rules. Folks up in the far corner of the country complain and gripe about Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend Brady, but that’s to be expected. After all, San Francisco fans used to assert that BALCO Bonds never did steroids while his head and feet were growing to unnatural sizes during his time as a pharmacological marvel with the Giants.
So, where does this leave us with Sunday’s big game? With a pretty easy rooting decision. No matter how clean the Patriots may seem today, we can never be sure whether Hoodie B and his henchmen aren’t using some sort of crazy satellite technology to divine Atlanta’s secret plans. Rooting for the Pats is sort of like cheering for bad guys in an action flick. It might be fun for a little while, but then they start the doomsday machine and we realize that the world is going to end if somebody doesn’t save the day.
In Super Bowl LI, that somebody is Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, who just happens to be from Exton. Granted, the Falcons aren’t exactly the most charismatic franchise in the NFL, and when owner Arthur Blank starts dancing after victories, he looks like he escaped from the Saturday night mixer at Shady Acres. But at this point in history, with another title enough to lift Belichick and Brady to the top of their respective all-time lists, nobody south of Connecticut should be cheering for a New England victory. The chance that evidence could surface down the line regarding untoward actions by the Patriots is too great. So, root for the good guys. Go, Birds!
El Hombre’s prediction: New England 30, Atlanta 24. Good doesn’t always triumph over evil.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: In its last three games, Villanova has played two poor second halves (Providence, Marquette) and a bad first 20 minutes (Virginia) but still came away with a 2-1 record. Wildcats fans must hope this is a momentary lapse, caused by a short bench, sky-high expectations and highly motivated opponents. ‘Nova must get back to playing 40 minutes of focused ball, because playing inconsistently is no way to stage a successful championship repeat.