It’s a strange thing to watch a Super Bowl when your team is at home. It is not an unfamiliar feeling, though. Only two teams make the Super Bowl, and for the past seventeen years, the Patriots have dominated the Eastern Conference spot. They have played in the Conference Championships eleven times since 2001 and made it all the way to the biggest game of the year, eight times, in the same period. Their record is impeccable. Their ascent, inevitable. Sometimes, I fear that our robot overlords have seemingly already arrived, in the form of an ageless Tom Brady and the emotionless Bill Belichick. It is an unbearable dominance, worsened by the Patriots’ air of smug duplicity.
Yet, for all my endless rants, I tuned in, along with millions of others, to watch the Super Bowl this year. I sat in a crowded room, ate wings, and watched the full four hour-long broadcast. I watched despite the Seahawks, my team, having been eliminated weeks ago. I watched despite the homework sitting undone in my dorm room. I watched, hypocritically, for the Patriots. The team’s domination of the sport has created something rare indeed: unity. Unity among the fans of the thirty one other teams who have watched helplessly from the sidelines as the Patriots have collected ring after ring. Fans that have had trophies ripped from their grasp by another Patriots comeback, another Patriots miracle. This is the special anger, engendered only by sports; one that feels both overwhelmingly important and staggeringly petty. Perhaps it is a hateful kind of unity, but it’ll have to do in times like these. Only the Patriots could make me feel this way. Only the Patriots inspire such passion. The Jacksonville Jaguars were four points away from playing the Eagles in the Super Bowl. I would have abandoned that game at halftime. But to watch the Patriots play, to root for them to lose, is obligatory viewing. To watch a Patriots game is a gamble with high risk and higher reward. It is dreadful for most of the four quarters because one is always on the lookout for the next freakish Brady third-down conversion or well-timed interception. Belichick ensures that his teams run like clockwork, infuriating in their precision and competency. There are brief moments of hope, such as when the Falcons held a twenty five point lead midway through the third quarter of Super Bowl Fifty One. But even then, there was trepidation in even believing that a blow-out of this proportion could occur against this team of well-oiled cyborgs.
Yet, in the moments after the Eagles clinched Super Bowl Fifty Two, there was also an unbelievable happiness. All of that fear suddenly became joy, all doubts suddenly vanquished. That is the power of a Patriots loss. A power that could only be borne from repeated championships and utter greatness. It pains me to admit it, but I’m happy the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl. I’m even happier that they lost.