So, you’re confused about who to root for in the Super Bowl.
Friend, this is understandable. Both teams involved in this affair are polarizing, to put it delicately. On the one hand you’ve got the Patriots - the ultimate dynastic franchise full of Hall of Famers on the roster and in the coaching hoodie. On the other side, you have the Eagles - a bunch of fist-raising, anthem protesting, dog-mask wearing upstarts with fans that boo Santa, throw batteries, and inspire salt from even the nicest people on Earth don’t ya know.
Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, sends a warm welcome to the NFL and their fans ... well, almost everyone (sorry, Eagles fans) pic.twitter.com/u6E7TIswgw— The MMQB (@theMMQB) January 30, 2018
Even this Rutgers/Eagles fan is conflicted. On the one hand, you’ve got the unexpected, feel-good, wouldn’t-believe-it-if-you-didn’t-see-it story of the year. On the other hand, you have the class of football, led by Rutgers men and Big Ten legends up and down the roster.
However, once we look below the surface, there are some undeniable truths about the teams, these fanbases, and the very fabric of the game that we’re playing for that provide rooting interests in and out of the Boston/Philly metropolitan areas.
Let’s break it down.
What you can’t deny about these fanbases is their passion. Between showing up on gameday, supporting their teams, or sticking it out through thick and thin, these fanbases are legit.
There’s no Cowboys-style bandwagoning. No Jacksonville-area apathy. No LA casual stop-by fandom.
This is real-deal, bleed-for-the-team, handed-down-from-generation-to-generation dedication.
Upon deeper inspection though, I think we can all identify one key difference:
Pats fans have been here before. This is nothing new. All of the winning and awards and fawning has taken the edge off of the fanbase. You can’t blame them for settling into a comfortable expectation that the Pats will either win it all this year or next year.
Are these Pats fans aloof? You bet. Are they insufferably smug? Yep. Would you be too? Probably. The bottom line is the bottom line though. These Pats fans are who they we think they are.
On the other side, Eagles fans couldn’t be more different. This is the definition of a rabid fanbase. Beyond the fans, the entire city has gone absolutely bananas for this football squad. This is a team and a fanbase and a city absolutely starving for a Super Bowl win.
Are these Philly fans rowdy? Yeah, they sure are. Are they violent? Unfortunately, sometimes. Are they worse than any other franchise? Not by a cheesesteak. Yeah, ESPN loves to cover when a Philly fan throws a snowball, or a battery, or projectile vomits as a tactical assault, but we don’t have fans stabbing each other, rioting, or committing outright felonies at The Linc and there wasn’t a single arrest from the car-riding, pole-greasing, dude-getting-owned-by-a-subway-pillar rager after the NFC championship game.
So, there’s your choice #1 football world: Rowdy or Reserved?
We all know the score. 7 Super Bowl appearances, every award that you can win, young players in key spots, and arguably the greatest run in sports. The genius in the hoodie and the golden boy under center have taken on the football world and won for years.
Are they the greatest franchise in NFL history? It’s becoming harder and harder to argue they aren’t. They are the Empire. They are Sauron’s army. They are the 10,000 Immortals.
On the other side, you have the Eagles. Those of proud traditions and perhaps the most torturous series of championship failures outside of the 716 area code. A franchise that won three championships back in the day but haven’t been able to punch one through during the Super Bowl era - a fact frequently and insufferably cited by other NFC East rival fanbases.
Is there a more tortured history of soul-crushing failure and snatching failure-from-the-jaws-of-victory team than Philly? (okay except for the Bills)
There’s choice #2: David or Goliath?
On the one hand, you have the Patriots. The party in power, MAGA hat proudly hanging in Tommy Boy’s locker, letters of support written by Bill’s hand, Bobby Kraft on the phone with Trump thanking him for the new tax bill and tossing him a cool million to support the cause. This team couldn’t be more aligned with Trump politically and as the (current) party in power, they operate from the same position.
Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory- Tom is my friend and a total winner!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2015
On the other hand, you have the Eagles. There is perhaps no more socially-active team than The Birds. From Malcolm Jenkins fist-raising leadership of the Players Coalition to Chris Long being the first white player to protest the nation anthem AND THEN donating his paycheck, to demonstrating against Meek Mill’s widely criticized incarceration, you have a team that could not possible be less politically aligned with their opponents. Hell, the team itself was named after FDR’s New Deal.
Rooting interest #3: Woke AF or MAGA?
This one is simple. If you think you do whatever it takes - no matter the grayness of the rules nor the spirit of the law - to be a winner, if you think “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’,” then we’ve got just the team for you. The Patriots have shown over the years that, top to bottom, the organization is dedicated to winning above all else.
If you believe the way to true greatness is to grind it out, no matter how long it takes, taking your lumps along the way, but never wavering, then The Bird is the word for you.
#4: Are you a dirty cheater?
So, there you go. Compelling rooting interests on both sides of the field. To summarize:
If you’re an apathetic Trump-thumper who loves cheating and has a fondness for the evil empire, then the New England Patriots are the team for you!
If you love the underdog, sportsmanship, passionate fandom, civil rights, and FDR, then there is only one team for you: The 2018 Philadelphia Eagles.