Probably the worst moment of the year for me last year was when Trump got elected. The second worst was when the Falcons choked away a 28-3 Super Bowl lead to give the Patriots a 34-28 Overtime win. If not for the unfathomable absurdity of a Demagogic, Un-American Sociopath becoming President, the Falcons loss probably would have easily been the worst. Why? For one, I was rooting for the Falcons, as I’ve always liked them. Secondly, I really didn’t want to see the Patriots win a fifth Super Bowl ring this decade. And lastly, it wasn’t just that the Patriots won, but how they won, with the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead. The Julio Jones catch late should have been the dagger in that game. The Falcons, after that insane catch and a loss of 1 on a run, lost big time yardage on back to back plays: First a sack, followed by a completed pass wiped out by a holding penalty. Just like that, out of field goal range. If just one of those things doesn’t happen, the Falcons kick a field goal and it’s game over. But in spectacular fashion, the Patriots capitalized on their opponents mistakes to get a fifth Super Bowl ring, and sure enough, the Patriots hype train was off. Due to the weak state of the NFL and the insane offseason the Pats had, it was almost a guarantee that the Pats would get to the Super Bowl this year, and I all but assumed they would win.
The close proximity of the Trump win followed by the Falcons utter collapse was tough. Neither of those things for me, politics or sports–things I involve myself in very much, probably too much–would get better over the next year. Trump began an all out assault on our institutions, minorities and working class, as well as normality, sanity and truth itself. My beloved New York Giants had what was arguably the worst season in the history of such a proud franchise. They capped off a 3-13 season with the eventual firing of their horrendous Head Coach, who decided to break our Franchise Quarterback’s incredible streak of games started for no reason other than a seemingly desperate attempt to save his own job. The Pats cruised to the Super Bowl, with the hype machine in full swing. I even took up College Football for the first time ever, which did provide some great moments, but for my chosen team, the Michigan Wolverines, it simply wasn’t their year.
But here we are a year later, and look what’s happened. The Philadelphia Eagles, a team I gave close to no chance in this game, not only won, but won in spectacular fashion. They put up 41 points on the Patriots. Their Backup Quarterback was stellar and won MVP honors. And on what could have been a game winning drive late in the 4th Quarter for the Patriots, Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Brady’s hands. Brady didn’t see it coming, and I sure as hell didn’t either. There was nothing crazy about the play. It was 2nd down and 10, and a straight 4 man rush. He just beat his man and took the ball from Brady.
So after all that, it will not be the Patriots and Tom Brady taking home their Sixth Super Bowl ring. But Philly taking home their first in a 41-33 stunner. And that’s what’s great about sports. A team that seemingly had no chance made a statement, and proved to the world that they deserved to be there. And now, they are world champions.
I’ve been pretty clear in the past that I didn’t want the Patriots to win. I didn’t, and I’m glad they lost. I hope this humbles them and their fans. For some, it will. For others, it won’t. But let me also be clear: While I’m happy to not be hearing the noise of the Patriots fans tonight, I take no joy in their suffering. For any team or fan, a Super Bowl loss is hard. There should be no shame on the part of the Patriots. They deserved to be here and played hard. Sometimes, it’s just someone else’s turn to win. That was a hard fought game and someone had to come out on the winning side. Almost always, that has been the Patriots. Tonight it wasn’t.
No, tonight isn’t about the patriots. It’s all about Philly. A team that, yes, as a Giants fan, is my rival in the regular season, but I can put that aside to be proud of them tonight. They did something spectacular tonight. It’s a great story. They deserve the win. They deserve happiness and celebration. They deserve every Kudos they’re getting.
In thinking what to say about this game, about this win that I in no way foresaw coming, my mind threw at me many platitudes. Things like, “what goes around comes around”, or “it was bound to happen”, or even (only slightly jokingly) “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. But the truth is, I don’t really believe in any of those things. I don’t think there is any cosmic force that says what goes up must come down, that there will always be a yang to every yin, that it was inevitable that the Patriots would eventually lose. I think the universe is random and chaotic. That randomness makes it more likely and could be somewhat of an explanatory factor for the fact that the Patriots would come falling down to Earth in some way or another at some point. Regression happens. Upsets happen. It’s hard to maintain the status quo, and seems likely that things will change eventually. But that didn’t have to happen, and I’m not going to tell myself there’s a reason it did, other than the fact that the it’s simply what happened, and the Philly players earned it. And maybe that’s okay. There doesn’t need to be a cosmic explanation for what happened tonight. It just happened, and that’s enough of an explanation in and of itself.
So here we are a year later, and I can’t help but look back. After all that heartbreak and toughness I and so many other endured, tonight we finally got the result we wanted. The Patriots lost. It seems almost a form of poetic justice.
It’s true that sports aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. But that doesn’t mean they’re not emotional. They offer an outlet to occupy our time, to pour our feelings into. We put our heart and soul into these games. As fans, we feel with the team as if we are one of them. We bask in the glory of wins and feel the sting of losses just as the players do. It may seem silly to those on the outside, and it probably is. But that doesn’t make the feeling not real.
Today something spectacular happened, and the Eagles defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. I’m going to do my best to enjoy this win. Maybe it’s the start of other good things to come as well.