2008 was a watershed year for me. I got married February 8th, just a few days after Super Bowl XLII, the game that ruined the New England Patriots' perfect season. I remember that season well as it was the first time I had followed football. Brian, my then-fiance and now-husband, is a big football fan and we spent many evenings and weekends at the park playing catch. (Tip for all football fans--if you want to get your significant other into watching a particular sport on TV, teach them how to play it so that what they see on the big screen not only makes sense, but is interesting. This works best in the early days when you are still influential.)
As I was saying, the months leading up to my wedding were filled with all the usual things like dress fittings and cake flavor decisions, but also many exciting Pats games with my soon-to-be in-laws at their home in Belmont, MA, a little city right outside of Boston. Marveling over the seemingly invincible Patriots as we munched on tortilla chips and drank Sam Adams is one of my favorite memories of that time and my new family. It certainly seemed like that game against the Giants was in the bag. Do you remember the general opinion of Eli Manning at the time? A watered-down version of his big brother, Peyton.
Brian and I watched that Super Bowl at the home of newlywed friends in Medford, MA. They had just purchased a furniture set and television to host their first soiree as a married couple. It was a lively group with almost everyone cheering for the Patriots. Sadly, over several hours, the energy in the room deflated as Brady repeatedly got sacked, and the score stayed uncomfortably close. By the end of the game, the room was nearly silent. As we watched Eli's final pass, there was a feeling of disbelief, but also inevitability. The Giants had simply outplayed the Patriots.
Now it's four years later and the 2011 football season was yet another reminder that the only constant in life is change. (Does anyone else miss Randy Moss? What happened to him?! Don't answer that.) This season has meant games watched in our family room with my daughter and husband snuggled on the couch, and my baby boy looking up to see what the ruckus is about only to return to the serious business of making a mess. Instead of Brian and I running plays at a busy park outside Boston, we're tossing a SpongeBob SquarePants football in our peaceful front yard and teaching our daughter how to catch.
This year we watched Super Bowl XLVI at our neighbors' home down the driveway, and my experience was less about watching each play and critiquing all the commercials, and more about keeping the baby from tearing apart the CD tower. I have to admit to a depressing feeling of familiarity, though, with Brady looking off his game, and Manning staying calm and confident throughout. It appears that a second and contradictory lesson this Super Bowl was that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Watching another failed pass attempt, I felt myself beginning to succumb to despair, when it occurred to me that both teams were filled with men who were passionate about the game and had worked extremely hard. Both sets of fans were neighbors, families, and friends who just happened to pick different teams to put their loyalties behind.
Lastly, I realized I could not go through the emotional devastation again, and decided to just not care. Honestly stated, the Giants played better and deserved to win. And a part of me can't help but be pleased for Eli Manning, the sneered at little brother who has shown the world he's not a one-hit wonder, but the real deal.
Does this mean I'm switching allegiance? No way. There's always next season. Go, Patriots!