As a Boston citizen and sports fan, the Patriots dynasty has always felt a little off.
See, Boston has, historically, been a bit of an also-ran. We’re a scrappy, gritty kid brother of a city with a complex about New York, and our most famous sports team and rivalry (Red Sox and Yankees) underscores this well.
So, it’s a heady experience to be evil.
Let’s be clear. The Patriots are, unquestionably, the villains here. Much like the contemporary dynasties of the Yankees and the Lakers, the Patriots represent a cruel, despised dominance of their sports.
The problem is, locally, we hate those guys. The Lakers and the Yankees are the antithesis of what we’re about. We’re lovable losers or just and loved miracle winners- see the comeback 2004 Red Sox, the worst-to-first Celtics, or even the post-marathon 2013 Red Sox.
We’re not supposed to be evil.
And we weren’t. At first. A smiling young Tom Brady winning a Superbowl- lovely. Then another one; good for him. But by the time the third one came, opinions had soured on the miracle boy. The languishing Patriots were no longer languishing, and it seemed the luck we’d received was disproportionate to the goodwill worldwide.
Add on to this that our coach is evil, our team unlikable through success, and that we cheat (debatable!) and you have a slam dunk for detestability.
And we don’t care.
We don’t! It’s a strange, hypocritical joy and relief. Not only do we not care, but we shouldn’t. How can you begrudge a team their happiness? Actually, maybe; but we don’t care.
The joy of victory doesn’t care about morality. It’s visceral, like blood in your mouth.
I am not the first person to make this comparison, which involves an already aired spoiler from Game of Thrones.
This was like when The Mountain killed The Viper by smashing his head in. It was insane, and unjust- an interception on the one yard line?!- and it was glorious. Oh man. The Seahawks, like The Viper, where the righteous team; the gritty, hard-working, talented think-piece provokers we love, playing for Seattle, a city impossible to hate.
And what did we do?
We burst their fucking skull.
Looking at the score doesn’t do justice to the insanity of the game or the importance behind it. The Patriots started a potential dynasty with three Superbowl wins. But we’d lost two painful, painful Superbowls to the mediocre Giants.
It was humbling. Awful. Deserved. And here, playing Seattle, seconds left in the game, Jermaine Kearse makes a miracle catch in the Superbowl.
Patriot fans know miracle catches all too well. It’s how we lost another Superbowl, a victory torn from us by the hand of God. And, for a moment, it looked like we’d repeat that loss. What could be more divine than another insane catch to prove that God, like America, does not like the Patriots?
But it appears He dislikes goal-line passing even more.
So this was that.
This was redemption for losses, a glance back at a glorious past of youth, a sinister fuck you to the laws of feel-good narratives- deflate these balls!- and, above all, it was a win for a region that cares and fights for them.
It was also just a game. But if you see a game as just a game, then you might just see age as just a number or a relationship as just a title, babe.
Reductivism makes you sound smart until it doesn’t.
For now, take this for what it was. And if you don’t like this article or the Patriots’ win, I get it. I really do. Football elicits passions, chief among them pride and contempt, joy and sorrow. And, having been a play away from the other end myself, I know better than to mock it.
So, Seattle; I’m sorry. I really am. I can’t imagine how this must feel, but if it’s the mirror of how I do now, you have my sympathy.
For those of you who don’t like sports or don’t care, I hope this put across the irrational excitement it can encourage. And, I’d like to remind you that just because something good is irrational it doesn’t make it not good. It can be smarter to take joy where you can find it.
And, in the meantime?