I’m Watching It
Super Bowl LIII should be a celebration of the NFL. Instead, the championship has the league at a crossroads.
I’m watching it.
When Super Bowl LIII airs on Sunday, I’ll be tuned in.
I know it’s not a popular decision among my Who Dat brethren, many, if not the vast majority, of whom will choose to boycott watching the game and instead pass a good time with one or several of the plethora of anti-Super Bowl events popping up citywide, but I’m watching it. Despite the anger, hurt and disappointment, I love football too much to miss the Super Bowl.
I, and many, will forever feel the New Orleans Saints were robbed and denied an opportunity to contend for their second Lombardi Trophy because of the no call on an obvious pass interference and helmet-to-helmet hit that, if called, would have almost certainly sent the Saints to the promised land.
After 10 days of silence, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally addressed the issue at the annual State of the League address held before the Super Bowl.
“It’s a play that should be called,” he said, echoing previous league sentiments that a penalty occurred. “Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it is never a good outcome for us. We know that, our clubs know that, our officials know that.”
The result of the NFC Championship Game has cast a pall over the NFL and its signature event. Many feel it is an illegitimate matchup. Although Goodell said the league understands “the frustration of the fans,” he never considered replaying the game or re-starting it from the point of the foul.
“Our officials are human… they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly, and they have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances,” he said. “They’re not going to get it right every time.”
C’est la vie. Life goes on, and so will the Super Bowl. There are 60 minutes left in the NFL season. The game features an intriguing matchup with multiple storylines that will impact the league’s 99-year history as much as it affects its seemingly unbridled future. There is a lot to look forward to on what could be a significantly historical day. The New England Patriots, led by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, are already one of the greatest sports franchises of all time and looking to extend their greatness. The Los Angeles Rams have taken the league by storm over the past two years, and appear poised to become one of the NFL’s dominant teams. The dichotomy of the established winner versus the up-and-coming combatant provides tension to a contest that could reshape the league.
The Rams have been absolutely intriguing under the leadership of head coach Sean McVay. At just 30, he became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history when he was hired in 2017. In his first season, he won the AP NFL Coach of the Year award after he led the Rams, who finished the 2016 season with a 4-12 record, to an 11-5 mark and a playoff birth. In his second year, at 33, he has become the youngest head coach to lead his team in the Super Bowl. McVay’s play calling is Sean Payton-esque, and his team is fun to watch. Quarterback Jared Goff, 24, has proved worthy of being the top overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. In three seasons, he has been selected to two Pro Bowls and led his team to the Super Bowl. Running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson are a dynamic pair out of the backfield and wide receiver and former Saint Brandin Cooks can stretch the field for big plays. On the other side of the ball, the defensive tackle duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh are game changers who disrupt and frustrate the opposition.
The Patriots are the definition of a dynasty whose legacy is established and excellence must be appreciated. Since 2001, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have led their team to 18 winning seasons, 16 AFC East titles (including 10 straight from 2009 to 2018), nine Super Bowl appearances, and five Super Bowl Championships. This will be the Patriots’ 11th time in the Super Bowl. If they win their sixth championship, they will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowl wins in NFL history. Brady is one of the greatest football players of all time. With a sixth ring, he’d have won more Super Bowls than any other player in league history.
While a Saints-less Super Bowl will lead many to skip the game, legacies will be determined at Super Bowl LIII. The game should provide an escape from the realities of day-to-day life. Here’s to hoping it will also be an escape from the heartache of knowing the Saints aren’t there and that they should be.