As far as I can tell, there are two acceptable reasons you might root for the New England Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl. The first is that you were born and/or raised in New England and have rooted for the team your whole life, in which case your allegiance is hard-wired into your DNA and will remain unshakable, even when things eventually get bad. The second acceptable reason is that whoooops no never mind, there’s only that first reason.
The Patriots have won five Super Bowls in the Brady-Belichick era. They’ve done so ruthlessly, from top to bottom, bringing words like Spygate and Deflategate into the lexicon, and going so far as to let the poor Atlanta Falcons build a 28-3 lead last year before storming back to victory, like a snake playing with a mouse before strangling the life out of it. People should not root for them. People should root against them. The Patriots’ reign of terror must end.
What this means for you, non-Boston-type football fans and casual viewers who only watch the Super Bowl but know enough to root against the Patriots, is that your options are limited. Very limited. As in, there’s only one, because all the other challengers have withered and slunk away defeated and broken, and your hopes now rest with a single organization. What I’m saying is this, and it gives me great joy to say it: Like it or not, at least on a temporary basis, despite every molecule in your body screaming otherwise, the Philadelphia Eagles — my beloved Philadelphia Eagles — are now America’s Team.
Oh, I know you might not want to admit it, given the semi-justified perception of a Philadelphia and the goons that live there. “They threw snowballs at Santa!,” you shout. “And they boo everyone! ” Well guess what, buckaroo: It’s time get a hoagie from your favorite gas station and do research into why that Santa deserved it (HE DID), because until the end of the game on Sunday, you are now one of us. We are your only hope. Embrace it. Throw a battery at something. It’s liberating.
And it’s not just anti-Patriots rage that makes the Eagles worth rooting for this year. The team is actually kind of charming! Our coach is a guy people have underestimated since he was hired but turned out to be a strategic genius who goes for it on fourth down as often as a dirtbag Madden-playing teen. Our quarterback is a shaky-seeming backup who stepped in for our injured MVP-candidate starter and somehow turned into John Elway in the NFC Championship game, and no one knows which version is going to show up on Sunday.
I know Philadelphia loves to play up the whole “scrappy underdog” thing (yes, I will be playing the Rocky music all day Sunday while stress-vomiting like a normal sports fan), but it’s legit this time. The Eagles are the scrappy underdogs. America loves an underdog story.
In fact, America itself is an underdog story. The American Revolution was basically a bunch of rascals getting fed up with a big mighty dynasty and throwing stuff in a lake about it all. There’s not that much difference between that and driving an ATV up the steps of an art museum to celebrate winning a playoff game, kind of, if you think about it.
And yes, I know the Patriots are literally named “the Patriots” and can claim some of this revolutionary rhetoric, but we’ll see who is laughing once I finish this oil painting of Doug Pederson as George Washington. It will probably be you, because the painting will be awful, but then I will assault you will stale soft pretzels until you stop laughing and I get to start. Philadelphia wins again.
(Which brings up another point that is tangentially relevant at best, but I’m angry about it, so here goes: It’s insane that the Dallas Cowboys are called “America’s Team.” What has Dallas ever done for America? Was the Declaration of Independence signed there? No. Do they have a huge broken patriotic bell on display that people stand in line to look at? No. Did Randall Cunningham ever play for them? No no no. This is a travesty, but one we can deal with another day. We have important things to get to, like the Super Bowl, which, it should be noted, the Cowboys are not in this year.)
I think the best way to sum up my argument that Philadelphia is America’s Team is by talking about the greased poles. You remember the greased poles, right? Short version: Before the NFC Championship game, city officials ran around applying Crisco to the light poles downtown, in an effort to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Phillies World Series celebration, during which dozens of booze-ravaged loons injured themselves attempting to climb poles and other fixtures all over the city. A proactive solution, you might think, and you might have been right, if dozens of booze-ravaged loons hadn’t looked at the greased-up poles as a challenge instead of a deterrent.
“The fact that we were greasing them doesn’t mean we were daring people to climb them,” Sgt. Eric Gripp, police spokesman, said. “It’s the exact opposite.”
“Unfortunately it became a thing ahead of time so people thought we were daring them to topple the grease,” Gripp said.
If there’s something more American than reckless activity involving the phrase “topple the grease,” buddy, I have yet to see it.