Every week we three kings of the SBN Chicago writing staff sit down and talk (email back-and-forth) sports. One of us will ask the other two some questions about the sports world around us. The other two will answer the best they can. We call it "The Ballad of Ricky-Bobby & Z.W." Yes, we stole the name from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This week we discuss the upcoming Super Bowl matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Get some.
Bobby Loesch (@bobbystompy):
As a Bears and Patriots fan (yes, I know, stones and rocks my way), I really enjoyed the NFL's conference championship weekend. My Pats squeaked out a nail biter -- or, maybe a hand-chomper-offer -- against the Ravens, and Eli and the crew took out stupid Harbaugh en route to a re-match of arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever -- and I say that as a Pats fan who's trying to maintain objectivity.
With factors like the 're-mach,' the quality QBs in play (Brades, Li-Mann), playmakers across the board (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Ahmad Bradshaw, Wes Welker), as well as a few big names on defense (the Giants d-line, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo), I thought the average NFL fan would be thrilled to see this Super Bowl.
Boy, was I wrong.
Between Facebook statuses, tweets, conversations and overheard office banter, it appears the general Chicago consensus on this Super Bowl is a mix of burnout, frustration and bitter hatred. People don't like the East coast thing, I've noticed. They also seem to be sick of Brady. Had it up to here with Eli.
I just don't get it.
Maybe it's the Pats shades I'm wearing, or the weird torch I've carried for Eli's respectability all season, but this seems like an unarguably kick ass game. I understand both of these teams are from big markets and experienced some recent success, but is it really just those things that piss people off? Would you really prefer a Niners-Ravens Super Bowl just because it's more novel? It's crappy football! You're all idiots!
What gives, Chicago bros?
Ricky O'Donnell (@TUP_Ricky):
East coast sports fatigue is a very real symptom for fans and, at its core, it looks like that's the real problem for anyone not feeling this Super Bowl. This can only be blamed on ESPN, which, despite the progress we've made as a nation to develop other credible news outlets, is still the main hub for sports information across this country. Pitchers and catchers don't report for weeks, and I can already feel the swell of upset Midwesterns complaining about Yankees and Red Sox coverage.
Given the Final Four, I'm cool with this Super Bowl. We got the two best quarterbacks of the lot, a few big personalities and an intriguing best-on-best matchup when the Pats have the ball and the Giants are defending. Yeah, sitting through two weeks of "rematch" coverage is going to be rough, but remember: no one is forcing you to watch ESPN. You can read a book, steal a puppy or find plenty of other worthwhile ways to spend your time. If you do not watch Chris Berman slobber all over his own tongue, no one will fault you. This does not make you a bad sports fan, or, by extension, a bad red blooded American.
It's funny, we grew up in the '90s with the overarching narrative surrounding the Super Bowl looking something like "it never justifies the hype". But lately? The Super Bowl has been pretty killer. "Lately" might even be putting it too lightly, as this stuff has been pretty good for, like, a decade-plus at this point. I think that's the most important thing. All you want is a good game. Bobby is invested in this particular game with the Pats involved, but he's the captain of "rooting interests" even when he doesn't have a horse in the race. I'm more about the experience of the Super Bowl, ie: the taco dip. A bunch of friends, a bunch of food, a bunch of beer and a close game amounts to a good Super Bowl in my eyes. Maybe that's defeatist, or even pathetic for a fake sports writer like myself, but it's the truth. I forget about what happened in the Super Bowl generally a few weeks after it passes, when I'm more concerned with the NBA trade deadline or something stupid Kenny Williams is doing.
But to any Super Bowl haters, here's what you have to remember: it's football. Football is one of the best things about life. Especially high level football, which, after all, is all the Super Bowl can ever promise. Football is always fleeting, and after this game, it goes away for a long time. To the haters, I say 'chill'. Enjoy your football and everything that comes with it. More than likely, it'll be a pretty good game.
Bobby Loesch (@bobbystompy):
While I like that you defended/made a case for this game, I feel like that defense could be made for any game. It all is football, after all.
Z.W. Martin (@ZWMartin):
Before I get into the East coast thing, I would like to mention that when Bobby threw out some playmakers, he pointed out two tight ends and a cousin of Frodo Baggins (Get it? Because Wes Welker is white and small!) for New England. That's sooooooo Bill Belichick. Just when it seems the league has figured him out, he drafts, like, seven tight ends and changes everything all over again. Dare I say the Patriots are... cool? I know he has the personality of Darth Moth, but Belichick wears hoodies, throws ALL THE TIME and will kindly ask you to "suck his dick" after throwing up 37 against you. Add the supermodel marrying QB and Rob Gronkowski's sexual habits and this team is "2 Legit 2 Quit"(The extended music video is eleven minutes long. Seriously.). On the other side, this is what Eli Manning looks like most of the time.
Bobby, to answer your question arguing Ricky's thoughts could be said about ANY football game, I say yeah, I guess, but even the two sets of playmakers I mentioned above -- The Boston TE party and Welker -- make this game and, really, all football games unique. Every game has a changing storyline. Every game has varying matchups. This one will be about an aggressive front four against two super human tight ends and Tom Brady. Oh, also the rematch thing. There's that, too.
Back to Ricky. Unless I have a rooting interest, I too like to enjoy the experience of it all. I love food. Pizza and wings -- unarguably football viewing staples -- happen to be two of my favorites. If getting fat is un-American, then I'm Canadian (/throws up everywhere). In short, don't just enjoy the Super Bowl, enjoy the hype and everything that goes along with it... except the half time show. Nobody can enjoy that.
I have come to terms with the East coast bias. It is what it is. I stopped watching ESPN broadcasts of Red Sox vs. Yankees games years ago. I'm not terribly concerned about that. I'm just excited to see some football. Will ESPN be annoying? Yes, very much. That's why I have a DVR. An endless supply of episodes of "Chopped" really doesn't make this seem so bad.
I think a lot of the backlash from Chicagoans is really pent up rage and serious feelings from over two months ago that this might be the year for the Bears. I don't think a lot of people really dealt with it. I think I'm still in denial the Bears didn't make the playoffs. It just didn't seem possible at the time. Five straight wins will do that to you. Add to a 9-7 Giants team making the Super Bowl and the Bears season really hits Chicago fans hard when 7-3 wasn't that long ago.