We grew up in a peaceful house. We watched college sports. My deviant brother watched a bit of hockey and soccer, but we were predominately college basketball and football, and major league baseball. And life was good, simple. You rooted for UofL. If UofL truly sucked that year, you might, might, root for UofK, maybe. If you were really desperate.
If I acknowledged professional football at all, it was all Bengals all the time. (Who dey!) That was made easier during my high school years by the presence of their exceedingly charismatic quarterback, Boomer Esiason.
I think everyone knows that our true home team was the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm a third generation Cardinal fan. I'm not sure how I knew how my grandfather (o'h) came to be a Cardinal fan, but I know my dad was so disgusted when his hometown team, the Dodgers, moved to LA that he rejected them to embrace the team of his father. I didn't know any of this as a kid. I knew what I saw. We were Cardinal country. Every team was a Cardinal team, and when I saw local baseball, I saw the Louisville Cardinals, AAA farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. And it was good. And I followed those players clear through to wherever they want, and still follow many of them today. In those days, there were two divisions, east and west. And life was simple. I could root for the Reds (big red machine) and the Cardinals, and since they weren't in the same division, life was uncomplicated clear through to the post season. For the American league, I cared not a whit. The designated hitter was an abomination, something not to be tolerated.
Then something happened: expansion. Now instead of the Red in the west and St. Louis in the east. (don't ask. I'm sure it made sense to someone.), they were together in the central, I was torn, emotionally weakened, I couldn't pick a team because to choose meant to abandon, and I was unprepared to do that. I was ripe for the picking.
And I was picked, easily, in a move so graceful, I never even saw it coming. I moved to Boston. In Boston and the Red Sox, I found a team that required no divided loyalties. I did not have to choose between the teams that had meant so much growing up to me. The Red Sox swept all that way. I could maintain my conflicted attitude towards the National League by embracing the American League, something that was baseball, but wasn't. Something that didn't require me to abandon what I'd already invested in the game and the teams of my youth.
I won't say Boston's not a college ball town, it's imply not true, but my husband went to Boston University. For people who understand rivalries, and believe me, I do, that means in my house, there can be no such beast as Boston College. For my husband, college football and basketball don't exist. (College hockey does, but that's another story, for another time.) And so I discovered professional football and I've learned the game gradually in my time here.
And then I discovered something else. In the intervening years, or perhaps it had been this way all along and I'd never noticed, things were happening within my family that was unaware of. My father, the pillar of my youth, had turned to the Indianapolis Colts. In my football world, there were the Patriots, the Bengals, and, as the team you always root against, the Browns. The Colts weren't even on my radar, and suddenly I found myself stumbled, heart first, into the developing rivalry between the Colts and the Patriots.
Last night, during the half-time show, my father called me up to gloat over the extremely indifferent game the Patriots were having. That's what's come to. We can skip ahead past the part where he was punished swiftly for abusing his only daughter by the fact that his satellite dish went out with three minutes left in the game, and focus instead of the intense rivalries that drive us apart.
In that context and with that perspective. What an incredible game that was! Not a dull moment. The NFL couldn't have asked for better.
I enjoyed the half-time concert.
The commercials were indifferent. The only one I really liked was the Budweiser/Rocky commercial.
And I still think this was a great Patriots team, and an incredible season.
Edit: I just had a conversation about the game with an actual Giants fan, not a random Pats haters (sorry, Dad). We discussed the quality of the game, the turning points, and the players. Imagine that.