Monday morning, February 6, 2017.
If you were rooting against the Patriots because they’re “Trump’s team,” remind yourself what state they’re from
One of the rare times in his career when he’s looked mortal: “Falcons outside linebacker Vic Beasleyk, left, pressures New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the second quarter of Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Sunday, February 05, 2017” Staff photo by Matt Stone courtesy of the Boston Herald.
Me, tweeting from my Super Bowl party of one:
I hope Falcon fans aren't getting their hopes up yet. The Patriots do this all the time, spot their opponents the first half.— Lance Mannion (@LanceMannion) February 6, 2017
Note the time stamp. Well into the second quarter.
I think the Falcons were up 7-0 at that point and were driving towards their second TD. Wasn’t looking like a rout yet, but they had the game in hand. The Patriots couldn’t get anything going. Brady looked lost. On one drive he was sacked five times and hit eight. Then he threw into a crowd, aiming for Danny Amendola but connecting with the Falcons’ Robert Alford who ran the interception 82 yards for the touchdown. It was 21-3, Atlanta, at the half. Didn’t matter. And I knew it didn’t matter. I told the Mannion guys while we were waiting for Lady Gaga how no team in the history of the Super Bowl had come back to win after being down by more than 7 points at halftime, “So it’ll be historic when New England comes back to win.”
Actually, I don’t know if New England does it all the time, spot their opponents the first half. They sure didn’t against the Steelers. It just seems that way to me. But I don’t follow them that closely. I don’t follow football that closely. I don’t start to pay attention until after the World Series and then it’s usually only to my old favorite teams, the Packers, Giants, and 49ers. All NFC teams. The Patriots are my default AFC team. The mild rooting interest I’ve always had for them is really a rooting interest in all things Boston and it goes back to when I was a kid and was taken by the Minuteman on their helmets. Somewhere inside me I still think of them as Paul Revere’s team. Living in Boston didn’t deepen my loyalty, however; they were terrible at the time and terrible in a way that was boring. It seemed the Boston papers paid only half-hearted attention to them. The only times I thought of them were on Monday mornings when I saw the headlines perfunctorily announcing another loss. Anyway, at the time basketball was more on everybody in Beantown’s mind. That hick from French Lick had just come to town. Still, I usually root for them when they’re not playing one of the teams I care about. Of course I rooted against them in Super Bowls XXXI, XLII and XLVI. But I happily and enthusiastically rooted for them in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, and XLIX, the wackiest Super Bowl ever played.
Funny thing though. Yesterday I was rooting for the Falcons.
I’m not sure why. I have no old affections for them. Most seasons I barely remember they’re in the league. I was surprised when they made the playoffs. Not because I didn’t think they were that good. Because I didn’t know they were good at all until they beat Green Bay. And I was mad at them for trouncing the Packers like that. So I should have been rooting for New England, and, like I said, I don’t know why I wasn’t. It wasn’t because of politics, and I’m getting to that. Might have been the jerseys. That’s a nice shade of red they wear.
Ok. I know a lot of people can’t stand Tom Brady for reasons beside the Make America Great hat in his locker. But if you root against him for whatever reason you have to know you’re rooting against the best there ever was and the best it’s likely there ever will be, and accept that’s generally a losing bet.
Here’s all he managed to do yesterday, as reported in the Boston Herald:
Brady completed 43-of-62 passes for 466 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and he was 12-of-16 for 150 yards on the tying and winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. The five-time champion led his 51st game-winning drive in the 51st Super Bowl.
And if you rooted against the Patriots because of Brady or Bill Belichick or Bob Kraft, you were also rooting against a whole bunch of players and coaches who are good guys good at their jobs. I don’t think it’s right to let my feelings about an individual participant in a collaborative enterprise decide my feelings towards the other participants. If you didn’t go to see Hacksaw Ridge because of Mel Gibson, you deprived yourself of the pleasure of seeing the performance that rightly earned Andrew Garfield his Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Brady was phenomenal in the second half, but so was the New England defense, and Julian Edelman’s catch was one of the great moments of comedy in the history of the game.
Now, if you rooted for them because they’re “cheaters”---by which I take you to mean they routinely beat your favorite team and you just can’t believe they’re that good---that’s understandable. And if you rooted against them because they are that good and it’s existentially unfair that they are, that’s actually a righteous position and the football gods will bless you for it, even though they’ll rarely reward you for it. And if you rooted against them because you’re a Falcons fan or an NFC fan, that’s simply right and proper of you.
But if you rooted against them because they’re “Trump’s team”, you need to get a new religion. There are probably as many if not more Trump voters on the Falcons as on the Patriots, and more than a few Patriots who’d rather not have Donald Trump rooting for them, thank you very much, and anyway what do you care what Donald Trump thinks about sports or anything that doesn’t have political consequences? If you found out he liked La La Land, would that make you hate it?
But here’s the thing.
Who “owns” a team anyway? In a spiritual sense, it’s the fans as a whole. I think so, anyway. My team is my team, right? Your team is your team. So whose team is the New England Patriots?
If you rooted against the Patriots because of Trump, remind yourself what state they’re from.
Martellus Bennett isn't afraid to get candid about his stance on President Donald Trump. In the aftermath of the Patriots' overtime Super Bowl victory over the Falcons, the New England tight end said he's not planning on visiting the White House if his team is invited by the president.
“I’m not going to go," he told the Dallas Morning News Sunday night. "It is what it is. People know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter."
Bennett not only openly supported Hillary Clinton on social media during the election, but seemed to come out against Trump's travel ban three days after the order was signed, tweeting, "America was built on inclusiveness not exclusiveness."
Read Megan McCluskey's whole post, Patriots Player Speaks Out Against Trump: 'America Was Built on Inclusiveness' at TIME's Newsfeed.
That's INCREDELMAN. https://t.co/CYuE0CucVU— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 6, 2017