The best way I can describe my sentiments towards Super Bowl LII is by comparing it to the 2016 Presidential Election: no matter who wins, the vast majority of America loses.
In 2016, most Americans found themselves having to choose between Hillary Clinton, who was a largely unlikable, and quietly racially insensitive “DINO” — “Democrat In Name Only” — that fraternized and got paid very lavishly by the Wall Street establishment from which the Democratic party is supposed to protect middle class American families; or Donald Trump, who was, well, Donald Trump.
[Full disclosure: i’m a registered Democrat, and I voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the election (I prefer not to think of it as voting for Mrs. Clinton), with the mindset of “I want my team (the Democratic party) to win, even if I despise its starting quarterback (Clinton).” You know, kind of like my approach to the Alex Smith-led Washington Redskins for the next two-to-three years.]
In general, the 2016 election was the shining definition of the well-known proverb “being put between a rock and a hard place” for many voters. Although personally, I prefer using a different phrase — which my friends have been accustomed to hearing from me — when having to make a choice in a no-win situation:
“It’s like choosing between a shit taco and a turd sandwich.”
Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump was a shit taco vs. a turd sandwich situation.
And the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII is DEFINITELY a shit taco vs. turd sandwich situation.
There’s a reason that, when these two teams previously met in Super Bowl XXXIX (in January of 2005), it ended up being the second-least watched Super Bowl since the turn of the century, and amidst the NFL’s current downturn in overall viewership, this “rematch” could end up in another dip (and perhaps a significant one) in viewership ratings.
Speaking with NFL League Office Guy… Both agreed there’s never been a Super Bowl week with less buzz. Without the Alex Smith trade thrown in, it’s the most boring week in history. Ratings on Sundays game must be a concern.
— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) February 2, 2018
The Patriots represent the one sports dynasty in recent memory for which other sports fans will openly scorn you, if you decide to jump on the bandwagon. The New York Yankees of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s struck a balance between being “America’s Team” and “The Evil Empire,” but still made their signature navy blue baseball cap a cultural phenomenon. Rooting for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980’s was universally acceptable. The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s spawned a whole generation of “NBD” — “Never Been To Dallas” — Cowboys’ fans all over the nation. Nobody would’ve ever questioned you for rooting for the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980’s, or the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s. People likely wouldn’t have cared if you rooted for the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980’s or Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990’s, but that’s because nobody actually cares about hockey.
But the Patriots? Whether it’s the taping of practices, stealing of signals, the controversy around deflated footballs (I steadfastly refuse to add the suffix “-gate” to every single controversy that arises), the fact that Bill Belichick is a cantankerously arrogant sourpuss to the media, or the fact that Tom Brady carries himself like a pompous and self-righteous prick because he wins all the damn time (and acts like an insufferably infantile loser when he doesn’t), the Patriots are the most collectively reviled dynasty in the history of professional football. Rooting for the Patriots to win is about as reprehensible as rooting for the house to win at a casino.
You want proof? How about the fact that 44 of the 45 American states outside of what constitutes “New England” are rooting for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, and that even the state of Connecticut — whose eastern-most border is less than 50 miles away from Gillette Stadium — doesn’t want the Patriots to win, either.
Think about it: 90% of the United States’ population would rather see the Philadelphia Eagles — whose fans are basically the equivalent of human smegma — win a Super Bowl, as opposed to the New England Patriots. That’s should say plenty when our citizens would rather side with a group of vile, trashy, uncivilized, and stupider American versions of European soccer hooligans (Eagles’ fans), versus an almost-as-brain-dead, arrogant, and smug self-proclaimed group of self-proclaimed “massholes” (Patriots’ fans).
I’m sure you’re thinking: “wow, Rajan. I know you’re a bitter and depressed DC sports fan. But are you really referring to ALL Eagles’ fans as vile, trashy, sub-human hooligans?”
First of all, for the record, I’m a bitter, depressed, AND self-loathing DC sports fan, thank you. I have to live with the fact that over the last 15 years, the Giants have won two Super Bowls, the Eagles have been to two Super Bowls, and the Dallas Cowboys can find Pro Bowl quarterbacks seemingly out of nowhere, while my beloved Redskins are the Wile E. Coyote of NFL football teams.
And secondly, for as loathsome as Patriots’ fans are (and rather openly racist to boot), Eagles’ fans are a species of their own. I’m just hoping evolution and natural selection will hurry up a bit — although this is how I imagine most of the Eagles fans depicted momentarily came into evolutionary existence in the first place — and extinguish this group out of everyone else’s collective misery.
For you Philadelphia citizens and sports fans who care to challenge my assertion, please explain this:
Met up with @Vikings fans arriving home @mspairport from Philly early this morning. The two takeaways…they're sad about the team losing and they're disgusted with Eagles fans. pic.twitter.com/2aLdYScZ8L
— Ellery McCardle (@ElleryTV) January 22, 2018
nothing there to be ashamed of? Then check out this:
The Best Eagles Fans' Reactions From Philly Burning to the Ground Last Night pic.twitter.com/QI0rI67A0g
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 22, 2018
or how about this?
Vikings fan filmed her walk into The Linc and it was basically what walking through hell would seem like pic.twitter.com/9ckiyUmvUj
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) January 22, 2018
or this guy, who seems like a Rhodes Scholar compared to most Eagles’ fans:
Here’s a preview of what the state of Minnesota can expect to experience the next two weeks pic.twitter.com/1YlJ0VOHfz
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 23, 2018
or this guy, who publicly advocated for Eagles fans to give their own team’s head coach a “golden shower water fountain”? (PS: the Eagles won the ensuing game by a 37-9 score)
or how about throwing things at visiting fans of other teams — with the obvious intent to hurt them — like this:
— Troy Hughes™ (@TommySledge) January 21, 2018
As my friend Matt said: only Philadelphia fans would harass and/or literally assault other innocent bystanders simply for the fact that they were born in another state. And only Philadelphia fans would be stupid enough to SPEND MONEY on cans of beer, only to take those FULL AND UNOPENED cans of beer AND THROW THEM AT UNSUSPECTING MEN AND WOMEN INDISCRIMINATELY.
You people make Bills’ fans look civilized. And this is how they pass time at their pre-game tailgates:
As few things as the Redskins’ fans could talk trash about over the past quarter-century, we at least had the always-hilarious Eagles trophy case memes; you know, the ones where the trophy case is filled with participation awards and cans of Campbell’s chunky soup.
But it’s been more than a quarter of a century since DC sports fans got to cheer on ANY of their sports teams celebrating a championship win with a parade going down Constitution Avenue. So would you really feel good about yourself if that collective group of reprobates got to cheer on their team in a parade going right down Broad Street and Lombard Avenue?
Even from a pure football standpoint, there’s no upside to either of these two teams winning the Super Bowl.
The only silver lining I could find in the Eagles’ success this season is that Jim Schwartz would be a “one-and-done” in Philadelphia, as some team would see the work that he did with the Eagles defense — and the fact that he happens to be Bill Belichick protégé — and give him another chance to be a head coach elsewhere. Instead, teams are too busy hiring the Mike Vrabel’s of the NFL.
(As an aside: I like Tennessee Titans’ GM Jon Robinson, who is a New England Patriots alum. That being said, explain to me how Vrabel was a better hire than Schwartz, the latter of whom once led the Titans to the #2 scoring defense in the NFL, and probably could have convinced highly-regarded Eagles’ quarterbacks coach John DeFillippo to come with him as his offensive coordinator? In case I wasn’t clear: WHY WOULD YOU HIRE SOMEONE TO BE YOUR HEAD COACH WHEN HE HAS ONE YEAR OF EXPERIENCE AS AN NFL COORDINATOR, AND LED HIS TEAM TO THE WORST SCORING DEFENSE IN THE NFL IN THAT ONE YEAR, WHEN YOU COULD HAVE HAD SOMEONE WHO TOOK AN 0-16 TEAM TO THE PLAYOFFS IN THREE YEARS, FINISHED WITH THE SECOND-BEST (weighted) DEFENSIVE DVOA THIS YEAR, AND HAS A PROVEN HISTORY OF SUCCESSFULLY COACHING IN TENNESSEE IN THE PAST?)
So next year, we’ll get to see Carson Wentz sliding right back into this offense and curb-stomping the perennially undermanned Redskins’ defense twice a year, playing alongside a defense led by one of the best coordinators in the NFL.
And if the Patriots win? As much as I would take joy in the idea of a bunch of orange-skinned South Jersey lowlives drowning their sorrow in Yuenglings and a bunch of half-eaten fried cheese balls and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches (the most overrated sandwich in America — it’s not even the best sandwich Philadelphia is known for), seeing the Patriots win is like watching an unfathomably rich, obnoxious, unlikable asshole — like, say, Donald Trump — somehow ending up winning the Mega Million lottery.
We already know Tom Brady is the GOAT. With one more Super Bowl ring, he’ll surpass Charles Haley as the single individual NFL player with the most Super Bowl wins (both Brady and Haley have five), and we’ll legitimately have to discuss whether we should be mentioning him in the same breath as guys like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. Wonderful; as if he wasn’t conceited enough.
And until Pittsburgh finds the cojones (and the right head coach) to win big games, Jacksonville finds itself a quarterback, Houston finds itself with a running game and a renovated secondary (and a way to keep Deshaun Watson healthy), there’s STILL nobody nobody that will be able to challenge New England for AFC supremacy next year. The gap between them, and everyone else, is that wide. What does it matter that Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are leaving, when Belichick will just promote someone like highly-regarded linebackers coach Brian Flores to replace Patricia, and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea (who called the plays during a training camp scrimmage and in the preseason finale against the Giants) or assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski (who already has a relationship with Tom Brady) to replace McDaniels, without skipping a beat?
At least if the Patriots lost, there would be the “is the dynasty over?” question to debate for the rest of the offseason, given the aforementioned coaching defections plus Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s age, all wrapped up in the backdrop of the Seth Wickersham exposé for ESPN the Magazine?
But between the Patriots sustained success, the exorcism of the curse of the Bambino hanging over the Red Sox, the rise of the Celtics under Danny Ainge, and even the Bruins making it to the Stanley Cup two times in the past eight years, the abhorrent massholes infest opposing stadiums, arenas, sports bars, or any sports-watching gatherings like a bunch of over-sized (and excessively drunk) cockroaches with Joe Quimby accents.
Point being: come Monday morning, one of the two most insufferable fan bases in professional sports will be reveling in the thrill of victory, while the rest of the country will want to vomit.
After watching the Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars — thanks in large part to the Jaguars coaching staff deciding that “our first half game plan was excellent so lets get as far away from it as possible in the 2nd half,” and in larger part to the referees gift-wrapped seven points to the Patriots with that bogus pass interference call on A.J. Bouye late in the first half — and the Eagles run up the score on the Vikings in the conference championship games, my buddy John demanded that Championship Sunday evening that I cancel the annual Super Bowl party at my house, because this upcoming Super Bowl has essentially become unwatchable.
And in all honesty, he wasn’t wrong.
Because, again: no matter who wins on Sunday evening, the vast majority of the football-loving American public loses.
Prediction: New England over Philadelphia, 27-23.