Ten years ago, the Buccaneers throttled the Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII. Dexter Jackson, a safety for the Bucs, was the game’s MVP. Brad Johnson was the winning quarterback. With apologies to Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, and Tampa fans, this has to be the least important, least suspenseful Super Bowl of the past 20 years. Then again, Bucs probably fans don’t care about the lack of suspense because they could start celebrating at halftime.
I was very much under the weather during SB 37 and slept for most of the game. The result of the game wasn’t important to me, although it was enjoyable to see the Raiders’ season end in shambles. I was in the minority of Americans that day in not tuning in. This Sunday, February 3, 2013, I will again be a part of that minority, the one that makes us all ask, “Who are these people not watching the Super Bowl and what the hell are they doing instead?” Well, I’ll be working all day on Sunday and won’t see one minute of the game.
Is this upsetting, not being able to feast upon last morsel of NFL football for seven months? To not see the hyped up commercials? To not see Beyonce perform at halftime? To not watch with friends who are sweating out their inane prop bets? A little bit. But certainly not enough to take a day off from work, especially because my team is not playing.
Not to sound like sour grapes, but I’ve pretty much blocked out everything the media has fed us this past week in regards to the big game. If the Patriots hadn’t made the playoffs, enabling that reality to sink in over the past month, it’s likely that I would have ingested more coverage this week. But because my team lost in the AFC Championship game, I have no interest in watching the team that beat them. A team that allows itself to be led by one of the most disgraceful figures in all of sports. A team that I just don’t like. Sour grapes, sure. But I can’t read one more piece about Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, or the Harbaugh boys, as much as I admire both coaches.
All of this points to a couple things that are directly related to one another. First, that I am a spoiled brat of a sports fan. Second, the Patriots have to have sustained an elevated level of excellence for me to be such a baby about this. I try not to be petulant about anything, but I’m sorry, if my team comes oh so close and misses out, I want nothing to do with the event. The Patriots made five Super Bowls in 11 years. They made seven AFC title games in 12 years. Think about that for a second. In a league of 32 teams, to be one of the four best is a major accomplishment. To do that seven times in 12 years is astounding. It’s also the essence of why I, and other Patriots fans, have become so spoiled. Sure, I could take my lunch break at work on Sunday and catch a few minutes of the game. But why? It would just upset me knowing that my team was so close to getting there and didn’t have it in them. In this situation, the eternal flame in my sports fanatic heart is improbably extinguished for a little while, at least as far as the NFL goes. Once the draft rolls around, the pilot light will be lit. Around training camp, I’ll be back to convincing my friends that the Patriots are winning it all and that Brady is throwing for 5,500 yards and 55 touchdowns.
So while everyone is wrist deep in salsa, buffalo wings, and beer this Sunday, I’ll be wrist deep salmon, mussels, and ceviche. And that’s okay with me. I’ve spent the past couple weeks diving into the NHL and trying to ramp up on college basketball before the stretch run. It’d be disingenuous to say I’m completely at peace with not watching the game. Of course I want to see what happens, live, when everyone else does. I’m a sports fan, after all. But maybe there’s that part of me that’s becoming a more mature sports fan who doesn’t need to watch every minute of every game. Maybe I’m becoming the sports fan that only needs to see his own team’s games, and everything else doesn’t matter as much. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, because I still check ESPN all the time and watch random teams, as long as my sports psyche hasn’t been rattled in the near past. But when it comes to events like the 2012 NBA Finals and SB 47, consider my sports psyche shattered and consider me uninterested. The paradox is clear: on one hand, I’m petulant about not watching, and on the other hand, I’m mature enough to only fanaticize over games involving my own teams. Which edge of the sword prevails in this particular scenario? My Sunday unavailability aside, let’s just say it’s a little bit of both.