If there has been a crazier two weeks of professional football, I certainly can't remember it.
New England's legacy. Tom Brady's integrity. Bill Belichick's arrogance. Scientific evidence supporting those who claim the Patriots cheated. Scientific evidence exonerating the Patriots of any wrongdoing. Ballboys in bathrooms. TMZ. All Access Hollywood. Rachel Maddow. SNL. Jimmy Kimmel. Conan. All major news outlets. All major websites. Staunch, unwavering opinions that were formed virtually the second the AFC Championship Game ended and aren't going to be changed no matter what comes to light or how things shake out going forward.
All over the amount of air in a football.
That's how it has been for us, all of us, for what seems like forever now. When we all should have been soaking it in and enjoying yet another trip to the Super Bowl, we have instead been completely unable to avoid the absolute bombardment of what can only be described as sensationalized drivel specifically manufactured to put even more money in the pockets of an organization that claims to care about nothing more than the integrity of this sport but in fact will gladly and unthinkingly ruin lives, reputations, traditions, and loyalties if it means a higher bottom line. It's enough to make anyone with a hint of common decency want to just walk away from football altogether.
But none of that matters anymore. That's all behind us. It's time for the game.
And if you haven't taken any time over these past two weeks to appreciate that, if you have basically been living under a self-imposed media blackout because you just didn't want to deal with all the nonsense, I certainly understand; it hasn't been all that easy to enjoy the experience. But no more of that. It's time to get yourself back into the fold. It's time to live in this moment. That these past two weeks may have been taken away from you is a shame, but there's nothing to be done about that now. All of that is over. The Patriots are in the Super Bowl. They may never be here again. We are a little over 48 hours away from the single greatest sporting event of the year, and your favorite team is in it. Hundreds of thousands of fans would love nothing more than to be in your - in our - position right now. That's an amazing thing, and it's time to relish the hell out of it.
I repeat: The New England Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots may win on Sunday. The Patriots may lose. It might be extremely close, and it might be a blowout. We may be elated on Monday morning, or we may be heartbroken. But at the end of the day, I'll take both elation and heartbreak over indifference. I'd rather spend the game alone in my apartment with the door locked and the windows drawn too nervous to eat so much as a single nacho chip because my team is on the television than at some party with a bunch of friends socializing as the game plays in the background and the people in the room who don't care about football at all tell us all to shut up when the commercials come on and only turn up the volume for Katy Perry. I'd rather spend Monday morning taking it from all angles as Patriots haters everywhere perform cartwheels in the streets over a Seahawks win than be the person celebrating that win because my team hasn't sniffed the Super Bowl in decades and I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be where we are right now. The haters aren't going to go away regardless, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So let's all take a moment, this morning and beyond, to remember that this very game is why we cheer for our team. The chance to play in the Super Bowl is every player's dream, and the chance to cheer for those players is every fan's. The reason we tune in week after week, season after season, win after win or loss after loss, is because we hope that some day we'll have the opportunity to watch our favorite team play in the last game of the season - the only game that really matters. We have been fortunate enough to have that opportunity six times in the past 15 years and eight times over the course of the franchise's history. That alone is remarkable, but that we also have the chance to watch a game that could potentially cement our quarterback and coach as the greatest to ever play should be enough to make any other storyline, no matter how prevalent, completely obsolete.
Remember that. Cherish that. Enjoy that. And save the bitterness, the hatred, and the illogical justification for why our teams succeeds where others fail to those who have never been where we are and those who will never be where we are. And should the price of all this be that others bathe in your tears when things don't end the way you hope it will, then so be it. Because it's all worth it. Every single second of it.
The two best teams in the NFL are squaring off against each other in what is one of the most evenly matched championship games I can remember in quite a while. We all have the privilege of watching our favorite team play for the right to call themselves World Champions. This is why we watch. This is why they play. This is where we want to be.This is probably where we will be again before it's all said and done.
And nothing else matters.