I admit to not being a passionate football fan, but I relish a good strategic battle between huge, grunting behemoths.
In recent months, I’ve enjoyed cheering the Kennesaw Owls, the Bulldogs and the Falcons though none quite made it to the mountain top. This past weekend was of course the Super Bowl, the preeminent gridiron faceoff between the two best teams. Coming from Jersey, I admit a slight bias for the Eagles who played minutes away across the Delaware River. But I had no harsh feelings for the New England Patriots, having great affection for Brookline and Mike’s bakery in the North End. So, I sat back, watched the game and enjoyed the seesaw scoring, the running, the passing, the kicking with a casual admiration for two teams doing their best to win the coveted trophy.
One team, for the first time, the other, for the sixth time. There were, of course, those who were not tepid fans but frenzied in their cheering for either New England or Philadelphia. And, as the clock ran out, either danced or wept the night away in celebration or in sorrow. But beyond all the hoopla I heard a repetitive mantra that gave me pause. Those not wedded to the Pats or the Eagles, parave fans let’s call them, were inclined to support a Philly victory. Why? New England already had five Super Bowl wins and they felt it was time for someone else to bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
I recall in my childhood comments directed at the New York Yankees. ‘They’re too good.’ ‘Break them up.’ ‘It’s not fair.’ As a child I didn’t understand. If you’re a powerhouse team. A winner. Then bully for you. Let the others play harder. Cherish the dominance. Why was success something to criticize? To diminish? To give away? In our misguided, well intentioned, foolishness we try to be fair at the expense of excellence. We lower the bar. Cheapen the standards. Diminish the quality.
The goal in every endeavor should be to reward the best even if the gold medal ends up in the same hands time and time again. And so, I tilted towards the Eagles for reasons of nostalgic proximity but if New England clinched another world championship, I would have saluted the juggernaut and begrudge them not one braggadocios moment.