It’s not really that I love the Giants: it’s just that I don’t hate them.
As a sports fan (and I’m a pretty moderate version of a sports fan, let me tell you), you develop sometimes-irrational likes and hates. For instance, I really hate the Cubs when they’re a threat to the Cardinals; the rest of the time (let’s be honest … almost all the time), I regard them as sort of, you know, lovable.
Likewise, I would ordinarily root against any team from Texas, but I found myself pulling for the Dallas Mavericks against the hated Miami Heat in the NBA finals last summer. (And I normally don’t even follow the NBA at all, but I paid attention last year just enough to hurl all the psychic energy I could in opposition to LeBron James and his teammates.)
As you can see, lots of times our allegiances can change over time; we suddenly find ourselves rooting for a team that we’ve always thought we hated.
Other teams, though, you know you’ll never find yourself pulling for. We have one of those cases tonight.
Even though I’ll be watching Super Bowl XLVI this evening with a die-hard Patriots fan, I’ll be rooting against them. Here are five reasons why:
V. They’ve Had Enough. OK, this is what, the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl in 11 years? I read this week that the coach-quarterback combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have a regular-season record of 124 and 35, to go with their three Super Bowl rings. Its lovely for them that they have all that success and jewelry and all, but that kind of thing can be reasonably expected to inspire hatred in their many opponents.
IV. Milagro. I have a friend, a Jets fan, who drinks a shot of tequila every time the Jets score a touchdown. With the Jets out and the Giants in the playoffs, he has transferred that tradition over to the Giants for the duration. Sounds like a great tradition to me, and I’ll join him in it this evening (hoping it’s not too much of a high-scoring game).
III. Bill Belichick. The Patriots’ coach is a legendary sourpuss; he’ll only tell you what he wants you to know, not what you are asking of him. And I suppose that’s his right: we, as fans, want our sports people to be funny, self-deprecating and cheerful, but we can’t expect it.
Belichick’s demeanor reminds me of another legendary coach, now retired: Tony La Russa. You almost never saw a picture of La Russa smiling. The difference between them was that La Russa was our guy. Another difference is that Belichick is a notorious cheater.
II. Chad Ochocinco. NFL wide receivers are notoriously cocky and self-aggrandizing. They’re the ones who have the most elaborate and pre-planned “touchdown dances.” But in a league of showboats, this guy takes the cake. And not only does he take the cake, but he slathers it with way too much icing and writes his own name on it. During his years with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was always known as a me-first kind of player, and he went so far as to have his name changed—legally changed—to his self-imposed nickname, “Ochocinco,” which he apparently thinks is Spanish for “eighty-five,” his uniform number. (Hey idiota: “ochocinco” translates to “eight five:” You’re thinking of “ochenta y cinco.”)
I dearly hoped he would end up with some team that had retired No. 85 so he’d have to change his name again, but instead he went to the Patriots, who obliged him in his egocentricity.
Ochocinco hasn’t been much of a factor for the Patriots this year, and I take some joy in that. Still, it’s fitting that he’s a part of that Evil Empire.
I. Super Bowl XXXVI: