Monday, February 04, 2008

Putting my finger on it

I think I have figured it out. Why yesterday's loss didn't bother me as much as I thought it should.

Over the last couple of months I have written a lot about the hypocrisy of the fans out there who bitch and moan about cheating when any individual would have a hard time finding a clean team out there. I have pointed out that, for the inquiring mind, and the fanatical historians of the game, that the Steelers of the 1970's were rumored to have pioneered steroids in the game (at least one offensive lineman from the last two Super Bowl squads of that era confirmed that he took steroids), that the Miami teams of the early 1970's were penalized for coach tampering, John Madden pretty much admitted that the Raiders he coached cheated and challenged, "what are you going to do about it?" From 1972 to 1982 those teams accounted for nine out of eleven possible Super Bowl appearances by the AFC, winning eight.

There are a number of other teams whose violations have faded over time - the Broncos who both filmed and were in violation of the salary cap - but all is talked about is the team's championship.

But those aren't the only things that have faded with time.

Time has put the Bills' four Super Bowl losses in different perspective. Once thought of by pundits and fans alike as being the biggest losers in football history for having lost those four consecutive championships, time has mellowed the perception, allowed for the appreciation of the difficulty inherent in what the Bills accomplished.

People talked about how, if the Pats lost, this Super Bowl would be the biggest upset in the history of the game. It may be, and that perception may remain for some time, as will the ghost of Spygate, but both will fade. Somewhere in my gut and in the back of my mind is the understanding that I might have just witnessed a season that might not repeat itself during my lifetime and that at some point it will be recognized for the incredible ride that it was.

The fact they weren't able to put the exclamation point on the season will likely linger longer than the cheating scandal - which will have a longer life than previous scandals, not because it is tied to a multiple Super Bowl champion, but because we live in an information age where the fourth estate is about ratings and advertising rather than objective news. It's why stories like the "Run Away Bride" in Georgia lasted for over a month in the national news when as recently as 15 years ago that story would have been, at best, two paragraphs in news of the odd every place outside of the greater Atlanta area.

But all of that is only part of it.

I am bothered when the teams I root for either don't show up to play, or lose because of things outside their control (poor officiating, etc.). I honestly think the Patriots played as well as they could have. I think they gave the Giants everything they had left in their tank, which wasn't much.

The Giants, in spite of playing one game more just had more left.

I didn't feel that way in 1985 or in 1996. I think the Patriots could have played better in both of those games. I don't know that they could have won either, but I didn't feel like they played their best football when they most needed to.

I know when the smoke finally clears, and the filming is put to rest, I'm going to look on this season as both incredible and a little disappointing. I won't dwell on the loss - it will still be there - but I will look at a team that still broke the Dolphins record for consecutive wins in a single season (sure, it's Pyrrhic, but it's still an impressive feat), set a variety of offensive records that are just off the charts, and did these things amidst a firestorm of controversy.

Thanks for the ride. It was pretty damned incredible.

7 comments:

David Sullivan said...

If the Pats lost , but I didn't have to listen to all of the haters for two weeks then I could be gracious. In my post last Fri day I fully expected a good game and even thought the Giants had a punchers chance. But after all the BS piled on from Goodells press co nference Fri to kick off I am one bitter m'er f'er. My latest post says it all.

Kelly said...

Nice.

Suldog said...

Well, you saw my own post on it. After another day, it just all feels very empty. There's something that just isn't right - speaking in karma terms, I guess - about the undefeated team losing that final game.

If I were a fan of any other team than the Pats, I would have been excited and happy about the Giants win, I suppose. I've always been a guy who roots for the underdog when I have no other rooting interest. Still, there's just something... vacant about it all.

Kevin Smith said...

And I think for many people that empty feeling is going to be common, but will fade over time as the emotions, still raw, associated with losing also fade. There will, at sometime, be some historical perspective on all this that will stress the wins and not Spygate and not the Super Bowl loss.

All of that will still be in the background, but it will be in the background like the 'Phins' coach tampering, the Steelers' steroids,and even the Broncos' filming and salary cap have faded. It just isn't going to feel like it now, and the feeling is going to take longer to go away than it once did due to the Internet. Enough people won't want to let it go that it will, unfortunately, linger.

Because of this we're going to have to deal with a media catering to what the people want, rather than presenting breaking news of any actual import around the world.

sugarshane024 said...

I wish I could say the same. This loss is killing me.

Chris Stone said...

I just cannot imagine how the players felt. Talk about killer motivation for next season.

Chris Stone said...

just got an e-mail from somebody who knows somebody who... anyway. Its regarding the players and how much they put out this season...

the loss was exponentially
hard on the players. As in *tears*. The trip home was "depressing,
just depressing" in his words.