The first Super Bowl was played in 1967 and was at the L.A. Coliseum, which was one-third empty. The most expensive ticket was $12. Today, the Super Bowl has grown to such national holiday status, it’s as though only after the game does the New Year begin. And, so far this year, the highest price paid for a ticket is $74,928. Frankly, I don’t have a dog in the race, and I probably won’t for many years. Take pity, I’m a Rams fan.
There’s an old expression in sports, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.” The New England Patriots, given their spying on other teams and deflating footballs, certainly “try harder.” All the more exasperating, since 2002 they will have been in 7 Super Bowls! That’s why on Sunday, in between dip, chips and beer, I’ll be chanting “Go Falcons.”
With these columns at 800 words, if I listed the accomplishments of Tom Brady, it wouldn’t be a column, it’d be a Mini-Wikipedia Page. Brady holds just about every quarterback record there is, and at 39, amazingly, he doesn’t seem to have slowed a bit. (Hopefully on Sunday?)
At least Brady seems likable. Tall, handsome, rich and he has a gorgeous wife, model Giselle Bundchen who may be even richer. Not so likable is Bill Belichick, the taciturn coach who not only wears a hoodie to the games, I suspect he sleeps in one. Yet, if the Pats win on Sunday (biting my tongue) Belichick may be considered the greatest NFL coach of all-time.
Belichick certainly doesn’t have the greatest personality. Has anyone ever seen him laugh? His depressed voice, even when he wins, reminds of a dreary Ingmar Bergman movie. Put it this way, he can make Dick Cheney seem upbeat.
According to national polls, the Pats are the most hated NFL team, two years in a row. Some say it’s jealousy because of their remarkable success. Others say it’s their “cheating ways.” In 2007 there was “Spygate” (fined $250,000 and a draft choice); in 2015 there was “Deflategate” (Brady suspended 4 games) and assorted other scandals in between. (Not to mention Aaron Hernandez, backup tight end for New England, whose double murder trial begins on February 13.)
But here’s another reason for me to root against the Patriots, Belichick and Brady are big Donald Trump fans. Even Pats owner, Robert Kraft, is a Trump supporter. (I’m assuming Giselle is, too but I’m cutting her some slack on the off chance after she leaves Tom she might call.)
Digressing, other sports icons who are fans of Trump include: Mike Tyson (duh); Jack Nicklaus (sorry now Tiger won’t break his record) and Bobby Knight. In fact, at a political rally in Indiana, Knight introduced Trump, “This man, like Harry Truman, won’t be afraid to drop the nuclear bomb.” Isn’t that comforting? Not to mention Trump’s top adviser Steve (“Loose Cannon”) Bannon recently predicted that in a matter of years the U.S. will likely go to war with China. What do you suppose the Chinese are doing now that they’ve been put on notice?
Back to the Super Bowl, of which the Patriots have won 4 and lost 4. If they win on Sunday they will be tied with the Cowboys and 49ers for second most Super Bowl wins at 5. (Pittsburgh holds the record at 6.) If the Pats lose, however, they will be tied with Denver for the most Super Bowl losses at 5.
The Atlanta Falcons were in a Super Bowl in 1999. Even the Rams were in a Super Bowl more recently, (2000) and they won. They returned in 2002 against…you guessed it, the Patriots, but even again there was possible New England cheating.
While the Rams, favored by 7 to 14 points, dominated the game statistically, the final score was Pats 20 Rams 17. There was talk the Pats had spied on Rams practices. I wouldn’t doubt it. Hey, in 2015 Steelers’ headsets went out while playing in New England as has happened to other teams at the most inopportune times. (Where’s there’s smoke…)
With New England favored, Bill Plaschke, L.A. Times sportswriter, says not only is the game “David versus Goliath,” it’s also “Good versus Evil.” With likable Matt Ryan at quarterback for the high-flying Falcons under the steady guidance of coach Dan Quinn, Atlanta is considered by most to be the good guys.
This will be Quinn’s first Super Bowl as a head coach. He was, however, a defensive coordinator for Seattle against the Pat two years ago and will have been in the big game three of the last four years. Not only is Quinn smart and even-tempered, he doesn’t wear a hoodie. Belichick, of course, does and seemingly everywhere. He, too, is smart and, some say, he’s even-tempered … always grouchy.
Jack also writes “Laughing Matters” every Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.