Why is football so popular? Why do we, almost religiously, gather together each Sunday to watch these modern gladiators put their bodies on the line for our entertainment? Why does football virtually have a national holiday devoted to it in the form of Super Bowl Sunday? Why is the Super Bowl the most watched event of the year? I think the answers to these questions goes beyond team loyalties, gambling, and the food. I think it’s because football offers us the opportunity to see athletes at the top of their game get a chance to make it into the history books. Over the course of an NFL season these players continually push each other to reach new heights. They make the unimaginable routine. We watch them struggle through adversity from the comfort of our living room sofas. We watch as they put health and safety on the line for their teammates, for the chance at glory and immortality.
For the last eighteen months we watched a presidential race that had similar stakes, but instead of the candidates pushing each other to be great, it brought out some of the ugliest characteristics we, as Americans, have to offer. I tuned in to the news each morning, just as I tune in to Redzone every football Sunday, but instead of experiencing amazement of what human beings can achieve after years of hard work and sacrifice, I got my daily dose of vitriol, ugliness and scandal. I watched us become something that our ancestors wouldn’t be very proud of. This year more than ever, we need to find joy wherever it hides, and for a lot of us that is sports.
The race for president this year was so uninspiring because it was contested for by such exceedingly flawed candidates. Ego, entitlement, and smarminess were cast about as qualities that would make a good commander-in-chief. The bottom line is this, these candidates were not the two best possible applicants this country has to offer for this interview process that we call an election for the important job in the world. But in the world of sports, we have an opportunity this year to see the two best quarterbacks duel in the biggest sporting event in the world.
Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, if they make it, would be playing in his seventh Super Bowl with a chance to win his fifth. He’s beginning to be accepted as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Also, Gisele Bündchen. Say what you want about deflate-gate, spy-gate, or whatever other shade that can be thrown his way, the dude is complete Teflon. He wins. He wins despite an ever changing cast of characters surrounding him. He wins despite constant injuries to his favorite targets. He wins in the warm, in the cold, and under domes. Think about this; fourteen out of the previous sixteen January’s, Patriots fans had HOME playoff games. That is a level of consistency that every other team line the league should be envious of.
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, would be making his second Super Bowl appearance if they can get past the Atlanta Falcons. This seems paltry compared to Brady, but Rodgers is without a doubt the hottest quarterback this postseason. He is absolute magic right now. You can call it elusiveness, or luck, or pure grit, but you will never see a better Hail Mary ball, and there is no one else right now you would rather turn the ball over to to orchestrate a game winning drive. Also, Olivia Munn. So what if he hasn’t spoken to his family in two years? So what if he claims to have seen UFOs? Did you see the Packers/Cowboys game?! Rodgers drew up the yardage securing catch that set up the winning field goal in the huddle, in the sand, backyard style. That’s so incredible that maybe the reason he is so sure about alien life is that he is from another planet himself.
Hey, I know you’re going to watch the Super Bowl regardless of who’s playing. This could be a championship between Blane Gabbert and Robert Griffin III and millions would still tune in, but just like our election, do we not deserve better? It wasn’t that long ago we saw Kerry Collins square off against Trent Dilfer. So unless you are a Steelers fan or Falcons fan, do you not want to see these two teams square off? If we do get this match up, we need to cherish it and savor the moment. It could be a game you tell your grandkids about. It would be a great way to start 2017, after a 2016 we’d all like to quickly forget.