Feb 5, 2012

My Super Bowl Pick

The Super Bowl is today.  It is the biggest sporting event of the year.  (Wait, that's debatable.  The Olympics are this year.)  It's the biggest sporting event of the month.  (Hold on, isn't the Daytona 500 this month?  I'll tick off all the rednecks if I make that claim.)  It's the biggest sporting event of the week.  (Let me check...  Australian Open... Some stupid NBA games... We're good.)  As I've documented in other posts on this and my Darth Fatso blog, the Super Bowl has always been a very special day.  I loved watching it with my dad.  We were allowed to eat in the TV room instead of at the dining room table.  We got pizzas from Publix or TV dinners.  My dad my tons of snacks.  It was great.

As I got older, I started to get into the Super Bowl Party circuit.  As a minister, I had to orchestrate several of these things.  Those are great - this huge game and two hundred of your closest people you sort of know.  The problem I have with these things is that it is very hard to keep track of the game, the commercials (the best part), and enjoy yourself.  I really prefer staying home with my family, having fun food, watching the game and the commercials together, and just enjoying the time together.  My kids don't care about the game at all - they like the event.

This year, I am faced with a dilemma.  I couldn't care less about the teams playing.  This isn't like, "My favorite team isn't playing, so I have to pick someone else."  This year, it's like, "These two teams are in my bottom tier of teams.  I detest both of them."  You have to have some kind of rooting interest in the game. So, how do I decide who to cheer for?  Just like when I went through an exhaustive decision making process to pick my favorite NHL team (They wear yellow! Their mascot is a freaking saber toothed tiger!), I knew I needed to go that deep.  So, here is my analysis of who I should cheer for.

Personal Favorite Teams: My favorite team is the Jaguars.  They were eliminated in August.  Like many non-die-hard fans, I have several auxiliary teams.  The Bucs were eliminated right after the Jags.  The Saints made it into the playoffs and then got ousted in the divisional round.  No help there.  Advantage: EVEN

Personal Favorite Teams Rivalries:  The Jaguars don't really have a rival.  Their biggest nemesis is empty seats.  You could argue, I suppose, that the Titans or the Colts are their biggest enemies.  So that dosen't assist in any way.  The Jaguars have very little opinion on the Patriots and Giants - other than they are two teams they enjoy losing to.  Advantage: EVEN

Franchise Like-ability:  Let's face it, neither of these teams are especially likable.  Both teams have had a lot of recent success, so there isn't a lot of sympathy for either team.  You have a ton of rabid fans for both teams, so I can't pull the newcomer or the underdog card.  And the teams are located in New York and Boston - the two most obnoxious, self-obsessed cities in all of sports.  It seems like every other sportswriter is from those two cities.  There is relentless coverage of Boston and New York teams.  And the sports machines thinks that the rest of the country is as interested in Boston and New York sports as the New England area.  What they fail to realize is that there are tens of millions of sports fans just like me who HATE every team from those cities, just because they are from those cities.  If it is from Boston, I hate it.  If it is from NYC, I hate it.  And for good measure, I hate all the teams that are even close.  As far as I'm concerned, these two teams could sport losing records for the next one hundred years and I would be glad.  It still wouldn't make up for having to hear about David Tyree and the Perfect Season that never was. Advantage: EVEN

Player Like-ability: Umm...  There are two levels of athletes out there.  There are the blue-collar tough nameless guys who do their jobs and you never hear about.  Most cynical sports fans like myself don't mind these guys.  Yes, they are still making more than I will ever make in my life.  But they don't flaunt it.  Generally, they pass themselves off well.  Then there are the stars of varying intensities.  These are the guys we get tired.  They have the monster contracts and matching egos.  I have a theory that the stars we like a whole lot are the ones that are able to make themselves look like that other, larger, more relatable group.  Look at some of the more popular athletes out there - Drew Brees, Peyton Manning - and they are big shots who pass themselves off as more common guys.  The stars we turn on - LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard (recently) - are the ones who start to act like they deserve the big bucks and flaunt their importance and wealth.  Yes, some people like that attitude, which is why there is a marketing vein capitalizing on those guys.  But, to people like me, (and this about my decision making) I can't stand guys like that.  There are a bunch of fans out there who loved Albert Pujols when he was still just doing his job, and who now don't like him because he gave in to the lure of big money elsewhere.  (Although, most of us will always have a soft spot for him because it is fun to say his name.  "Poo-holes.")  That all being said, the hard working Giants and Patriots are going to balance each other out.  The question comes down to how obnoxious those teams' stars are.

The Patriots sport Tom Brady - who simultaneously comes across as smug and arrogant AND down to earth and humble.  He is married to a supermodel and dresses in designer clothes, but then wears an undershirt with a notch cut into it to Media Day.  He is a spokesperson for Ugg Boots, but his choices in hair styles is slightly worse than mine.  Tough call.  They also have Chad Ochocinco - one of the most annoying athletes of all time.  However, this year he has been so quiet I forgot he was on the team.  They are a mixed bag.  The Giants have Eli Manning, the not as nice brother.  As much as people try to package him as Peyton Lite, he has an edge to him that rubs people the wrong way.  Maybe it was his demand to play for the Giants on draft day.  Maybe it is his perceived weakness.  I just don't like him for some reason.  The other stars are also mixed bag.  I'm not sure if either team provides enough positive energy to make a difference.  Advantage: EVEN (maybe slight Giants edge)

Coach Like-ability: Yep.  Both Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are obviously great coaches.  You don't get to multiple Super Bowls without knowing what you are doing.  But they both have a lot of baggage.  Belichick has so much stacked against him.  He is churlish.  He dresses like a hobo.  He tries to use every borderline cheating trick out there to get an advantage.  He is about as warm and cuddly as a candiru.  (I dare you to click on that link and not wince.)  But, he is obviously brilliant.  And his players love him.  And what he has done with Tom Brady is absolutely incredible.  Tom Coughlin is another coach with a lot of baggage.  He was such an angry, totalitarian, and verbally abusive coach he had TWO teams completely quit on him.  His teams never seem to excel - they do enough to scrape by.  Plus, hardly a year goes by without an ugly losing streak and a big call to fire Coughlin.  On the plus side, though, Coughlin did listen to the criticism and change his methods, becoming a better coach.  He had family members die in the 9/11 attacks.  And, you can't overlook this, he has the Jaguars connection that makes him keep the "hometown discount" that fans of teams offer their obnoxious players/coaches.  Advantage: GIANTS

Uniforms: To some of you, this may not matter.  But I am a big uniform fan.  I read the Uni Watch Blog every day.  When it comes to these teams, their uniforms are not in my top ten - or top twenty.  Sure, they aren't the Oregon Ducks and their rotating clown outfits.  But I don't like them.  I can't stand football teams that wear matching dark shirts and pants - which the Patriots do.  I don't like their new logo.  And I just don't care for their mostly boring uniform.  I like their socks, and I love their throwbacks.  But overall, they are not a winner.  The Giants, though, sport one of my most hated uniforms in all of sports.  I know some people hail them for their classic look.  I just can't stand them.  I hate the texture of their pants.  I hate how their shirts all look sloppy and stretched on.  Seriously, I hate the Giants' uniforms.  They aren't the worst (Ravens and Seahawks, looking at you).  But I hate them.  Advantage: PATRIOTS

Personal History: I grew up a Cowboys fan.  That alone should tell you where this is going.  As a Dallas fan for nearly twenty years (before I bailed, thank to Jerry Jones), there were some indisputable facts.  First, you hate the Redskins with every fiber of your being.  (The fact they were my brother's favorite team only added to the intensity.)  Second, hate the 49ers.  Third, hate the Giants.  Fourth, hate the Eagles.  I have rooted against the New York Giants since I knew what football was.  They are one of my absolutely least favorite teams.  It isn't a mild dislike, either.  It is a complete loathing.  You know those teams you get angry thinking about?  I have those.  In football, that would include the Dolphins, the 49ers, the Jets, the Giants, the Raiders.  I detest those teams.  Personally, I don't have any bad experiences with the Patriots.  They beat the Dolphins and Jets on a regular basis, which I appreciate.  So, this one, the Patriots win by default.  Advantage: PATRIOTS

Friends: Sometimes, I will cheer for a team because friends of mine like it.  I like my friends and want them to be happy.  As long as that doesn't come at the expense of my happiness, naturally.  Since I don't really care about this game, this would be a perfect example of a filial rooting interest.  So, I have some Patriot fan friends.  Eric Soucy was the first Patriots fan I ever met, back in Elementary school.  The kid, John Stemples, who sat behind me in math class in eighth grade was a Patriots fan.  And now I have a few people who like the Pats.  One of my newer friends, Eddie (a fellow stay at home dad) likes them.  As for Giants fans, Damani Collier is a big G-Man fan.  So is Robyn Daly German.  (Both of those were friends of mine in college.)  Aside from that, I don't know many others.  Advantage: PATRIOTS

Conference Affiliation: I know a lot of people who will root for whatever team represents the conference of their favorite team.  I see tons of Gator fans cheer for any SEC school once Florida gets eliminated.  I don't entirely get that.  How can you go from hoping the ground opens up and swallows Tennessee and then root for them?  If you hate a team, shouldn't you also revel in their misery?  Not only would I want my biggest rivals to lose against us, I would want them to lose every game ever.  But, trying to give this some credence, I have always considered myself an NFC fan.  This probably came from the era where I liked teams from the NFC for about 25 years.  Now that I root for an AFC team, that still hasn't changed much.  I still root for the NFC in the Pro Bowl.  So I guess that means something.  Advantage: GIANTS

UCF Alumni: There aren't any UCF graduates on either team.  There also aren't any players who attended UCF and never graduated.  There are two USF players on the Giants.  But, USF is turning into a rival for UCF.  So that doesn't help the Giants.  Advantage: EVEN (Maybe slight Patriots)

So, that's about it.  My interest in these playoffs basically ended when Tim Tebow threw his last wounded duck into the turf.  How do these category shake out?  As you can see, there isn't a whole lot to go on.  But, based on this highly scientific study, I have decided to root for the Patriots - just like the last time these teams played in the Big Game.  Let's hope that this time it turns out better.

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