After our beloved Steelers’ humiliating defeat in the wild card round a few weeks ago, my husband and I realized that we needed to pick another NFL team to support if we wanted a valid excuse to laze around on weekends watching football and eating processed cheese products.
We decided on the Packers because they’re “old school,” but when they lost to the Seahawks in the Conference Championships, we found ourselves scrambling. Do we admit defeat and go shovel the sidewalks? No! As long as there’s queso dip left in the house and we haven’t developed bed sores, we’re staying right here on this couch!
Seeing as our family is stationed on a Navy base in New England, I hastily offered my loyalties to the Patriots. And besides, Tom Brady’s pretty easy on the eyes. My husband feared I was suffering from some form of Stockholm Syndrome, and snapped, “C’mon, we don’t want the Patriots to go to the Super Bowl again! They need to give someone else a chance!”
Despite the tiny bead of drool that had formed in the corner of my mouth as I thought about that adorable dimple in Tom Brady’s chin, I appreciated his point. The Patriots are just so damned good, and good looking, aren’t they? With all their championship titles and the longest winning streak NFL history, they’re getting way too big for their shimmering spandexed britches.
Suddenly, that ruggedly stubbled dimple stopped being the object of my obsession and became the symbol of life’s inherent unfairness. “Yeah!” I spouted, “Give someone else a chance!”
For the next four hours, we sat transfixed, hoping the Patriots — the Popular Crowd, the Most Likely to Succeed, the Golden Boys, the Kids with the Pumped Up Kicks — would get creamed by the underdog Colts. But every completed Patriot pass seemed to dredge up more deep-seated adolescent insecurities from our youths.
By halftime, I felt like I was in 8th grade all over again, standing against the cafeteria wall during the school dance, wearing my brother’s hand-me-down Wranglers with cheap knock-off boat shoes and a polyester sweater, watching the sparkly popular girls sway to Rupert Holmes’ “Piña Colada Song” with all the cute boys.
When the Patriots made their sixth touchdown during the fourth quarter, I lost all faith that there was ever any justice in the world. Defeated, my husband and I peeled our bodies out of the deep depressions that had formed under us on the sofa, and sulked off to bed.
The next day, nightly news reports of “Deflate-Gate” only served to further fuel our bitterness. “I knew it, they’re cheaters!” My husband’s teeth gnashed with fury reconstituted from his husky childhood.
The litany of the day’s news reports continued: “Some say that Mitt Romney needs to give someone else a chance to run for President.” “Days after ‘American Sniper’ receives six Oscar nominations, Navy SEAL’s heroism is questioned.” “As Taylor Swift’s latest album sales exceed four million, rumors swirl that Justin Bieber will diss her in upcoming song.” “US days as a global superpower are numbered.”
Absorbing the news of that day, I found myself wondering: Is our tendency to root for underdogs a manifestation of human inferiority complex? Do foreign nations target America because they covet our obvious prosperity? Does the instant-gratification-selfie-generation seek to discredit our military heroes in order to overcompensate for their own lack of sacrifice?
I pondered… Are we refusing to pump up the Patriots because of our own deflated egos?
Searching my soul, I realized that, deflated balls aside, the Patriots are an outstanding football team worthy to compete in their eighth Super Bowl Championship. So next Sunday, while seated on a comfy couch, I’ll give credit where credit is due.
Well, at least as long as the queso holds out.