On Saturday, I turned on the 11 o’clock local news, assuming that the lead story would be the government shutdown or the Women’s March (even though the Boston/Cambridge edition this year was quite low-key compared to last year’s event – but that’s another story). But, no, the lead story was Tom’s thumb. Or Tom’s hand. Or whatever was maybe going to impact The Big Game on Sunday, in which the Patriots played Jacksonville for the AFC Championship and the opportunity to go to (yet) another Super Bowl.
Not only was the news dominated by the Patriots, but at some point in the “news”cast, they announced that the pre-game show on Sunday would start at 5 a.m. Yes, folks, that’s 5 as in the a.m. Ten hours and five minutes before the kickoff at 3:05 p.m.
Here we go again, I said to myself. If they win, we can look forward to non-stop coverage of the Pats until (one way or the other) a day or so after the Super Bowl is played on February 4th.
And then there they went and beat the Jaguars, even if they didn’t look like they were going anywhere until the last few minutes.
So, on to Minneapolis for Super Bowl. And on to non-stop news coverage.
Oh, we may have a break or two. Maybe on Groundhog Day they’ll manage to wedge in a report on whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. This being New England, there will no doubt be a bit of weather here and there. And there’ll probably be yet another importunate outburst from the Tweeter in Chief. Mostly, though, it will be non-stop Patriots. Which means lots of focus on:
- Tom Brady’s hand injury. The one that didn’t end up shutting him down in the AFC playoff game, but we’ll want to know the exact nature of that injury, ad medical nauseam.
- Our Tom’s new Facebook video “series”, Tom vs. Time. (God help us…Forget that. God help me. I just watched the first episode. Or the trailer. Or whatever I just watched.)
- Our Tom’s Minnesota connection. Super Bowl is being played in Minneapolis, and Our Tom’s mother is from Minnesota, so…
- Our Tom’s being the GOAT. (Greatest of All Time). Which even a relatively casual football fan – casual enough not to be a complete and utter homer when it comes to these thing - like me gets that he pretty much is.
- Rob Gronkowski’s concussion. (Good thing he was able to do his PSA for Tide, telling teenagers that when it comes to ingesting Tide Pods, it’s NO NO NO NO NO.)
- Danny Amendola’s Boston roots. (What can I say. Hero of the day on Sunday, so I googled him. Both his folks are from Boston. Who knew?)
- Et al. team members.
- Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s final game with the Pats before he heads off to be the head coach of the Detroit Lions.
- Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ final game with the Pats before he heads off to be the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
- Whether the ESPN story about the trouble in paradise – bad feelings between – in this corner - Our Tom and the Pats owner Bob Kraft, and – in the other corner - the Pats taciturn genius head coach, Bill Belichick. (Which is actually a pretty interesting story. More interesting than what goes on on the field, IMHO. But, then again, I’m a student of organizational dysfunction, politics, and backstabbing, so I’m loving it. Not quite Fire and Fury, but pretty darned engrossing.)
We will hear about fans who are driving to Minneapolis for Super Bowl, even though they don’t have tickets. We will hear about fans who’ve been to every Super Bowl the Pats have played in. We’ll hear about fans who’ve just gotten Pat Patriot shaved onto their head or tattooed onto their butt. Etc. Local soldiers in Afghanistan and other warzones – I was almost going to say shitholes – who are rooting for the Pats from afar. Kindergarten kids wearing their Pats gear and doing some adorable Pats cheer.
There’ll be human interest, athletic interest, and inhuman interest. Even political interest, as our governor and senators and mayor will place bets with their opposite numbers in Minnesota (lobster vs. lutefisk) or Pennsylvania (lobster vs. scrapple).
But the best of the 24/7 coverage – and the local TV stations and newspapers will go all in on this – will be the us vs. them narrative.
Doesn’t really matter who the Pats end up playing. (As of this writing, the Vikings are tied with the Eagles, but I don’t know where this one ends up.) New Englanders (with the exception of New York suburban Connecticut) will be pulling for the Patriots. And everyone else in the US of A (with the likely exception of the current occupant of the White House, who is a buddy of Bob Kraft) will be rooting against the Pats.
So there’ll be all kinds of “they hate us because they ain’t us” stories. Retellings of Spygate and Deflategate. Debates over whether the Pats are the greatest football dynasty of all time.
Last I heard, in surveys, the Dallas Cowboys are still more-hated than the Pats, but that’s subject to change.
Hating the Patriots is the perfect opportunity to root against a winner – and who doesn’t like to do that? It’s the perfect opportunity to dredge up what cheater pants the Pats supposedly are. To rail about how rotten New Englanders are in general, and Patriots fans are in particular. Not to mention that Pats haters get to combine their antipathy towards New England in general and Massachusetts in particular with despising “our” team. We’re obnoxious. Snobby. Snotty. Know-it-alls. Elitists. Blah-di-blah-blah. To which I say, have at it. Hate on! And back at you, with this picture, taken by my sister Trish at Saturday’s Women’s March in Cambridge.
I will be watching the Super Bowl. And I will be rooting for the Pats. I’d rather see the Red Sox in the World Series. The Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Celtics in the NBA Championship Series. But if I have to have a football team – and to watch the Super Bowl, you really sort of do – I will, quite naturally, root for “our” team.
But, for the next two weeks, I will be boycotting local news. I’ll be avoiding all the brash talk, all the trash talk, all the “we are the champions” nonsense, and all the “New England sucks” comments online. And since I’ve been cutting back on MSNBC, I should be able to get a lot more reading done.
Coverage is going to be non-stop. It’s going to be pervasive. It’s going to be boring.
But, hey, it’ll be exciting around here if they do manage to pull off another win.
On to Minneapolis! Wake me up on game day.