NFL Conference Championships Post Mortem

Introduction

We are in that weird time in the NFL season where they inexplicably take a week off between their conference championships and the Super Bowl. A�At least they haven’t gotten as crazy as the NCAA who has a month in between the final games of the season and their National Championship game. A�Also, they got smart a few years ago and put the Pro Bowl on this weekend. A�So, there is at least football happening. A�It’s an exhibition game, but still fun to watch. A�The added benefit is that because the Patriots almost always make the Super Bowl, I don’t have to watch any of them in the Pro Bowl. A�I have to find the positive of the Patriots always making the Super Bowl.

Vikings/Eagles

There isn’t much to say about this game. A�I got it completely wrong. A�First, I thought the Vikings would win. A�Nope. A�Second, I thought it would at least be a close game. A�Nope. A�I honestly don’t know what happened or how the Eagles blew them out because I was so burned out on football after watching the latest episode of “Tom Brady Hulks Out” that I paid absolutely no attention to this game.

I was listening to Simmons and Sal this morning for during my commute and they talked a little bit about how the Viking could have won the game if only a few things had gone differently. A�I know that sounds weird with the final score as lopsided as it was, but if you watch sports, you understand. A�I used to have a Steelers web page and for every game recap I had a section called “5 big plays” in which I highlighted the plays that I thought contributed to the outcome of the game. A�Apparently, Simmons and Sal studied my old web page while putting together their notes for this show.

I will try not to break my hand.

I will just chalk this one up to recency bias. A�I hadn’t watched a single Vikings game all year and then I watched the first half of their playoff game against the Saints. A�I had also heard most of the year how dominant their defense was this year. A�I put those things together along with Nick Foles instead of Carson Wentz as the Eagle quarterback and I came up with a Viking win. A�Hey, I do promise that these things are done out of complete ignorance.

Truth be told, the Eagles might have been worse off with Wentz at QB. A�I know that he’s not strictly a rookie, but he might as well have been. A�The playoffs traditionally (as long as you aren’t playing an overconfident Steelers or Saints team) don’t favor inexperienced quarterbacks, so who knows what would have happened if Wentz hadn’t gotten hurt. A�I think we all know that the one constant is that the Philly fans would have rioted.

A Note About “Eff the Pats”

I was talking to a colleague yesterday afternoon in between classes. A�We got on the topic of football and she mentioned how much she liked to watch it on television. A�I hedged a bit because I do live in New England, they just won a big game, everyone is happy, and I am most certainly not. A�So, I said, “I like to watch college.” A�She replied, “I like to watch any football, but there is one team that I absolutely will not watch.” A�Oh boy, I thought, she’s going to get me to admit that I hate the Patriots and this conversation will end awkwardly.

More at 11…

I took a deep breath and jumped right in. A�”Me, too,” I said, “and the problem is that I just happen to live right in the middle of where they are located.” A�Her eyes narrowed. A�”Wait, do you not like the Patriots?” A�I shrugged. A�Here it goes. A�”Nope.” A�She held out a hand and I flinched because I thought she might pretend to slap me. A�When I recovered, she was still holding her hand up. A�It all clicked. A�She wanted me to high five her. A�She was in the same boat as I was.

We commiserated about our Patriots hatred and how it was all so misunderstood by the Patriots “fans” in our lives. A�”Oh, you’re so bitter because they just win everything.” A�”You’re just jealous because they always beat your team.” And, my favorite, “You hate us because you ain’t us.” A�Yes, that must be it. A�Hey, if you want to have a valid conversation about why I hate the Patriots, then we can. A�If you are going to reply to me with generalities and memes in any conversation, I’m going to assume you don’t have the necessary brain functions to hold a conversation and I’m just going to walk away.

As the picture above (which, yes, is a meme, so just walk away) indicates, I have always hated the Patriots. A�The seed for my hatred might be a bit silly and I’ve never been able to properly explain it especially to Patriots fans, but who knows what causes something to lock into the brain of a slightly sports obsessed preteen boy. A�Heck, I remember praying to a God that I didn’t believe to help the Michigan Fab Five win a college basketball game. A�If you are really concerned about my Patriots hatred, the seed is this storyA�that I read one night from the Football Hall of Shame.

It’s a good book and there are some funny stories, but the dark nature of that particular event has just stayed with me for 30+ years.

As I said to Chris (an actual Patriots fan and one of the few people that I feel bad about expressing my hatred around) today, the universe just has a sense of humor. A�It has seen fit to drop me in the middle of Patriots country during their rise to power. A�It makes me look like one of the bitter Steelers fans. A�I am, to some extent, but I’m also a complex person. A�I’ve seen the Steelers go to 3 Super Bowls and win 2. A�I’ve seen Antonio Brown channel Lynn Swann. A�Don’t worry about me. A�I’m good. A�This isn’t about some silly “rivalry”. A�This hate flows deep and long. A�That’s what she said.

Jaguars/Patriots

Patriots fans: A�What suspense! A�What drama!

Me: A�What suspense? A�What drama?

Right after the game, I texted my friend Craig, “It’s always the same script. A�Seriously, how does anyone root for this stupid team.” A�He tried to get me going because that’s what he does, but I just shut him down with, “I’m done with this sham of a league.” A�Because, seriously, did anyone really think this game was going to end any differently?

How many of these “once in a lifetime” comebacks do you have to see before you know the ending, Patriots fans? A�Chris, making fun of me, texted, “Hmm Ia��ll write it for you, they cheat, deflate footballs, Bill is Emperor Palpatine, ..etc. lol sound about right?” A�I replied, “I don’t write for ESPN.”

I already used my hack Star Wars metaphor for Alabama.

Besides, the Patriots saga is more like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. A�Now, I haven’t watched a minute of Game of Thrones and I stopped watching The Walking Dead years ago. A�However, I keep my finger on the pulse of pop culture just enough to understand the basic plot of these two shows. A�They manipulate their viewers to start to think that their favorite characters maybe, just maybe, will survive the latest onslaught, only to pull the rug out from under them at the end of the episode with “the most thrilling ending ever!” A�”You just have to see this! A�Don’t let social media spoil this for you!” A�The Patriots do the exact same damn thing every single game. A�I don’t hate them for this. A�I just find it boring.

One last point. A�During my conversation yesterday, the topic of “tin foil hat conspiracy theories” came up. A�I’m not going to go too Cigarette Smoking Man on you right now. A�I’m going to save that for after the Super Bowl. A�Inspired by one of my conversations with Chris, I have a story that I went full X-Files with. A�I want to flesh it out a bit and have some fun with it. A�Look for it in a couple of weeks.

But, if you read it, we may have to kill you.

Because I don’t have television and I’m not going to go out of my way to get consistently punched in the gut until I become immune to it, I didn’t actually watch the Jaguars/Patriots game. A�I kept an eye on it via GameCenter. A�At no point did I ever think the Jaguars would win the game. A�Even as Chris was admitting to being a bit nervous because the Jags were up 10, I knew the Patriots would come back. A�There’s no way the NFL would allow the Jags in the Super Bowl. A�That just wouldn’t happen.

And here’s where I start to get fitted for my tin foil hat and I start to sound like the “hate us because you ain’t us” crowd. A�I’m not going to accuse the NFL of a conspiracy (except, you know, I just kind of did), but I find it odd. A�I did watch the entire second half of the Steelers game and watched an injured Antonio Brown make a circus catch because one of the Jaguars was draped all over him like a cape. A�Brown scored the TD, so it didn’t matter, but as we’ve seen time and time again, games change on pass interference calls. A�It changed the tide of Saints/Vikings.

Look I get that the referees didn’t give up 42 points to the Jags. A�The referees didn’t overlook an inferior team. A�I just find it odd. A�A team that only received A�3 penalties for 40 yards against the Steelers suddenly imploded against the Patriots and got 98 penalty yards on 6 penalties. A�Meanwhile, the Steelers got 3 penalties for 25 yards (so comparable), while the Patriots committed only 1 penalty for 10 yards. A�It’s just odd.

NFL! Goodell! Kraft! Brady! Trump! Putin! RUSSIA!

Because I’m bound by an imaginary contract (that I wrote, amended, and signed), I will do a Super Bowl spectacular next week. A�I’m not in the least bit excited about it. A�As a Steelers fan and a lifelong Patriots hater, choosing which team I want to win is like deciding whether to saw off my leg and bleed to death or let the rot slowly spread to infect my entire body.

Patriots? A�Eagles? A�Eff this Super Bowl.

Sure, let’s go with that…

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