As the Philadelphia Eagles furthered their demolition of the Minnesota Vikings in the second half of Jan. 21’s NFC championship game, I made a bold proclamation from my apartment couch to all who would hear it.
“I’m just not going to watch the Super Bowl this year,” I declared to the walls and ceiling, who, as usual, gave their silent approval.
That, of course, was a lie. I’m a glutton for football, even when it continually punishes me and those around me, not to mention the actual people playing the sport. With only one game remaining and a painfully long offseason looming, there’s no way I would miss the Super Bowl.
I’ll be watching Sunday, but I won’t be happy about it.
There’s not much to like on either side of this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis. So, in the absence of a team to root for, which squad is worthy of the most hate?
Let’s turn to the tale of the tape to find out.
(The above sentence is a reference to “Rocky,” a film about a boxer in Philadelphia. As a sportswriter, I am contractually obligated to reference “Rocky” any time I mention a Philadelphia sports team. It’s an issue the writers union just doesn’t seem to care about.)
On one side of the most underwhelming Super Bowl in recent memory, you have the parity-killing Patriots, seemingly destined for their sixth championship under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady since the pair joined forces in 2001. Yawn.
Then there’s plucky Philadelphia, underdogs throughout the playoffs despite being the NFC’s No. 1 seed. They found a way to reach the Super Bowl even after a season-ending knee injury to quarterback Carson Wentz, who many thought would be named the league’s MVP.
The Eagles seem like an easy group to rally around, but I’m bored of the narrative surrounding backup quarterback Nick Foles and occasionally appalled by their fanbase known for terrorizing opposing fans and quickly turning on even some of the best athletes and coaches Philadelphia has ever had.
Speaking of insufferable fans, the more outspoken Bostonians are basically a meme at this point for constantly whining about the “disrespect” their sports franchises must endure.
All this clamoring in spite of — or perhaps, strangely, because of — the city’s four major sports teams winning a combined 10 championships since 2001. The Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins all have at least one league title over that span, but you can bet Joey from Brookline has been calling into the local radio shows this week to complain about something.
In some ways, this Super Bowl matchup is perfect.
We will finally find out which of these two fanbases is truly deserving of the reputation as the worst in sports. Scientists the world over will rejoice as we probe one of our world’s greatest mysteries and potentially discover if a gloating Philly fan is actually worse than a gloating New England fan.
OK, I’m done taking swings as these two fanbases. I’m sure they’ll be taking enough swings at each other come Sunday.
OK, now I’m really done.
Perhaps the easiest way to determine which team is more hateable for this one game is to look at the two possible outcomes for the Super Bowl and judge how we feel about them.
Option 1: A Patriots win. Oh boy, the Death Star blew up another planet! I’m enthralled.
Option 2: An Eagles win. Remember how Wentz was a leading MVP candidate? Let’s all spend the next seven months stirring up a ludicrous quarterback controversy and pretending Foles will seriously challenge him for the starting job next year. Cheesesteaks for everyone!
I can’t deny Option 2 is the more preferable choice, just to see someone other than Brady and Belichick hoist the Lombardi Trophy for what feels like the first time in in forever.
Oh, and I guess it would be sort of cool for Philadelphia to win its first football championship since 1960.
But Option 1 just seems inevitable. The best we can hope for is a fun, entertaining game, but “Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots” is a movie I’ve seen too many times to honestly expect anything different to occur this time around.
When that happens, I’ll once again issue an unabashed announcement from my couch: “I’m just not going to watch football next year.”
We all know that’s a lie, too.