Friday, February 03, 2012

The Thing With The Teams In That Sport

Ever since the final play of that Super Bowl four years ago, I told myself that if the Pats and Giants met again, I'd root for the Pats this time. It made sense--now the Giants will have had the upper hand, and already have gotten to be their obnoxious selves and somehow turn it into a loss for the Red Sox, so therefore, let them get beat and laugh at them. (Until they meet a third time, and back and forth and back and forth.)

Flash forward to two Sundays ago. I'm in Miami, Florida, with my Red Sox hat on. Kim and I are about to go eat dinner, and the first of the two championship games is starting. Pats-Ravens. I'm already in a weird position, because even though I'd like the Ravens to win, I know the Giants might make the Super Bowl, and I'd prefer to have the Pats in there since they have a better chance of beating the Giants. Plus, every single person in Miami is assuming I'm a Pats fan. So we find a restaurant, and of course the guy assumes I want to watch the game (while my girlfriend is the only one of us who's an actual Pats fan) and sits us next to the TV, with a table full of people with that weird Maryland accent on the other side of us.

So it's completely uncomfortable for me. Too bad my hat didn't say "Red Sox fan who isn't a Pats fan and who wouldn't be rooting for them today were the Giants not alive in the NFC, therefore I'm rooting against them but thinking it's okay if they win, only to have to root for them in the Super Bowl but also be okay with them losing that." But no, it was just a B.

It was the fourth quarter. I finally decided to just go all out Pats fan, screw it. They were winning, and I could just sneakily take the credit for their win against my better judgement to avoid confusion and to know that should the Giants win their game later, I've at least got a team in there with a chance to beat them.

Then there was that play. That one play that turned me around again. Pats have the ball, up by three, with seven minutes left. I'm not saying you kneel on the ball there. But my lord, if you're gonna throw, it better be high percentage. And what does that sporkly-faced Belichick do? He throws end zone! Into double coverage! And of course it gets picked off, and I was so mad at the guy, for taking that one time when I was fully on board with his team and just risking it all because of his selfishness. And I'd think Pats fans would be just as mad at him. I said "Screw these guys, I can't root for this man and his team. GO RAVENS and even if the Pats win and play the Giants, GO GIANTS." I was really pissed. And on top of it, I realize I tried to take the easy way out by just using my Red Sox hat to allow myself to be the "winner." If I was gonna claim victory, I also had to take the mocking if they lost. And since I don't deserve that, I quickly jumped right back off. Again, screw these guys. (I knew as I was saying this that as the two weeks went on, I MIGHT ease off on them and go right back to thinking I'd just rather have the Giants lose, should they have their rematch.)

But first we had to get through this game AND the Giants game. So as you know, the Pats lucked into the win, and then much later the Giants lucked into theirs. Goddamn, it's really happening. Again.

So began two more weeks of hell. And I just keep going back and forth. You think when I hear asshole Giants fans saying how much they hate Boston and stuff, that I say "Yay, I'm with you, Vinny!"? Of course not. I want to see his team all break their legs at once on the final game-losing play. But do I want to see Belichick and Derek Brady celebrating as that happens? Hell no.

I honestly am back to leaning toward rooting MORE against the Giants than against the Pats. But whatever, if you're a Pats fan, do you want ME on your side USING your team as a hired gun? No, you should be telling me to fuck off and go root for the Giants. And Giants fans should say the same thing.

I just wish I could be happy about the fact that ONE of these teams will lose, instead of sad that one will win.

And how come it seems to be only ME that has to deal with this? As a person who grew up a Jets fan, I'm pissed either way. Yet I don't hear Giants fans saying "the one bad thing about winning is we might make some Jets fans happy," or Pats fans saying "the one bad thing about winning is that we might make some Jets fans happy." (See how it's the same sentence?) Not that either team would consider rooting against his own team, I'm just saying, it seems like I'm always the only one concerned with this stuff. My friend Jim, the Celtics/Yanks fan, never seems to worry about anything at all. My friend Mike, the Yanks/Knicks fan, seemed unaffected by the Nets/Yanks partnership (more on that later).

It's interesting to hear Jets fans' take on Sunday's game--I feel like most are more anti-Pats. But not all. The FAN's Joe Benigno is going through the same thing as me, and when he made his call about officially rooting for the Pats because he's just so sick of the "other" teams in his city always having parades (he's also a Mets fan), I thought, Well that's refreshing. I wish more Jets fans were saying that, because I feel like the ones rooting FOR the Giants think the Pats and Red Sox are the same team, which they are not. (I also know Joe was a Yaz fan back in the day and I can relate to his Jets/Mets-ness with my Jets/Sox-ness.) If the Pats were at all likeable to me, I'd have no problem here. And if people could separate sports, I'd also have no problem. The Pats winning shouldn't make people paint all fans of Boston sports teams with the same brush, but unfortunately that's not how it works. On the way home from my Florida trip, I stopped in Baltimore to visit my friend there, and I realized all the people there probably wanted to kill me for wearing a Red Sox hat. Meanwhile I was rooting for the Ravens to beat the Pats! (At least some of the time.) It's so stupid.

And that takes us back to where I'm coming from in all this just so people understand. As a kid, I was as die-hard a Jets fan as I was a Red Sox fan, in the in-between land of Connecticut. I was in the 1% in both cases. (And I was literally the ONE PERSON who rooted for the Nets in basketball.) If you lived in Fairfield County in the 80s, you liked the Yankees, Giants, and Knicks, period. You of course switched to the Mets in 1986 because you're a goddamned frontrunner, but other than that, you stuck with your commuter dad's traditional, stiff-collared NEW YORK teams. The occasional outer-borough dad might have Jets/Mets kids, but I didn't come across many. My teams were the exact opposite of Yanks/Giants/Knicks. (It was a rough childhood. I remember my friend once said, "well, we're all frontrunners when you think about it, because we all started liking our team at some point when they won in the past," at which point I said, "I've NEVER seen my teams win." He then pointed out that I always seemed to be the exception to the rule in our group of friends....) And there never was an issue. I'd wear a Sox hat and a Jets shirt at the same time. My football team's main rival was the Giants. We also of course had our division rivals, mainly the Miami Dolphins. But I never thought about the Pats. Never really thought of them as being in the "same town" as my baseball team, which they're totally not anyway. In '86, I rooted for the Bears in the Super Bowl, but I would have rooted for that fun-lovin' bunch against ANY team. The Pats weren't on my radar.... We got the NY papers, and there was no Internet. So if the Pats fans gave a shit about the Jets, I didn't know about it.

And then we got toward the late-90s. I was out of college, still a huge Jets fan. And things started to change. Maybe it was Curtis Martin. Maybe it was Bill Parcells. But suddenly the Jets and Pats hated each other. I certainly was super-pissed at Bellichick when he royally screwed us over by quitting as coach on his first day or whatever. We were ready to take it to the next level and he fucks us. But really, I still wasn't thinking of the Pats as any kind of rival. Hell, we gave you Brady by knocking out Bledsoe. (Actually, now that I think about it, I must have started to at least dislike the Pats before that, because my little line about Bledsoe was that he's "the most overrated PERSON in the world." But anyway, soon the Pats hated the Jets and the Jets hated the Pats and I was in a weird position. Was I supposed to chant along to "Boston sucks" at the Meadowlands? I was slowly getting the feeling that I "couldn't do this anymore." It was 2001, and now the Pats were champs and whole new fanbase was mocking me as the loser. I was already a tormented Red Sox fan, and baseball took up much of my year. I finally made the call to just give up on the Jets. Which tells you something about the Jets--pre-2004 Red Sox fans found them too difficult to root for. But I also did it to get my winters and my Sundays back. (Because if was really just quitting on them because they lost, that would go against everything I stand for, and I would have given up on the Sox long before then.) The Nets had just partnered with the Yankees on the YES Network, so I basically said I'm giving up on everything but baseball. I even had this possible plan of going for all the Boston teams, but decided that if I did, I'd wait TEN YEARS so that all the players would be different....

Well, it's been ten years, and I show no signs of becoming a Pats fan, in case you couldn't tell. It's still the same freakin' guys anyway! Apparently you can take the fan out of the Jets, but you can't take the Jets out of the fan. Or something. Every time a Pats fan mocks the Jets, I take it personally. How can I help it? So my plan of "not caring" anymore never REALLY took, because here we are with a freakin' SECOND Pats-Giants Super Bowl, and I'm writing pages and pages about it. And before you tell me to "get over myself, it's not about you" or whatever, just think what you go through when two of your rivals play each other. (Hey, maybe you truly can make yourself not care--I don't know how you do it.) And by the way, I'm still pissed at Pats fans for being SO anti-Jets while seemingly not giving a fuck about the Giants, who beat them in their most horrific loss. Maybe THIS goes against what I say about separating the sports, but Giants fans are mainly Yankees fans, and Jets fans are mainly Mets fans. I know there's the division rivalry, but I'd love it if Jets fans and Pats fans united in their hatred of the Giants. But of course, many Pats fans' parents were Giants fans before the Pats existed, so I guess that's where the soft spot comes from.

The other night I noticed an HBO documentary about Joe Namath. He, of course, is my Ted Williams when it comes to football. Seeing all the shots from the glory days, or as Jets fan call it, "glory day," started giving what little Jets fan remains in me some pride. As long as I still have these feelings, why not just go back to the way it was? Instead of being afraid another Sox fan might find out I'm a Jets fan, shouldn't I be wearing THAT team's colors with pride, just as much as I do with the Red Sox? I don't know. We'll see. I do kind of like being able to do stuff on Sundays in the winter and completely not care that football games are going on, and knowing my heart won't be broken. But maybe that's the easy way out. I say I "don't care," yet, again, look how many words I just wrote. Remember that day I tried to be a Lions fan? I just think switching teams is something I'm not capable of. So it's either Jets or nothing. And I just may stick with nothing, but I know I'll always, at the very least, if not "care" or "pay attention," check the score.

This Sunday, Go _______s!

See, look at this BS. An article about how Red Sox-Yankees has something to do with the goddamn Super Bowl. And look, almost everybody in that article goes along with the party line! Teixeira: Oh, I'm a Giants fan, go Giants...but only since I started playing in NY! And of course Bobby V pulls a classic Bobby V movie, afraid to root for his Giants because he knows he's in Boston now--I feel like true fans respect you more if you stay true to your team over going with the easy way out.
By the way, I actually have no idea if Belichick was responsible for that call--the TV was on mute and I never heard talk about it. But even if that was Brady's call, well, fine, move my anger to him, I still dislike both guys. (I guess I could look this up....but, I gotta assume the play was called by the coach.)
Mom here.
So there I was a die-hard Jets fan at a fund-raiser on the Intrepid and who am I sitting with? The newly-hired Jets coach, Rex Ryan. So when he got up to speak, I said to all the bankers and hedge-fund, boring men at my table: "Okay, when he's introduced let's all yell, J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS JETS!" They didn't see any profit in that and looked at me as if my skin had just fallen off. So after dinner, I told Rex--who was soft-spoken and kindly--how I wimped out and should have yelled out the cheer all by myself. He totally forgave me and then I mentioned how I had been a sixties Joe Namath girl and he told me that when he was hired the first thing he did was look up Joe Namath to tell him how much he admired him, and Joe was most gracious and "gave me a lot of good advice." Then I asked him for an autograph for you and he signed a very nice sentiment on a napkin.
I enoyed going to Jets games with you, Jere, and I look forward to next year's football season when I'll be rooting for the JETS yet again.
I hope the Giants beat the Pats. I'll be watching the game in Manning, South Carolina, on the way home from the Keys.
I'm a huge Giants fan, and I had no idea you were a Jets fan. Interesting, especially after growing up in CT.

I've met a lot more Giants/Sox fans than Jets/Sox, especially since New England was big Giants territory a long time ago, and some families have stayed loyal to the Jints.

Interesting read, now that you found your Jets fandom again - how will things be with your gf when the Pats and Jets play? I mean, you aren't really rational - not like I am either - when it comes to Yanks v Sox, so is it the same. Sorta.

And is Rex Ryan your kind of guy?
Well I grew up in CT but I could ride my bike to the NY state border. I was in the the NY metro. You know, "pinstripe territory,"

I guess of the people who like the Red Sox and a NY football team, sure, more like Giants because of the old days and just because they're a more popular team--but those people are rare in general. A Yanks/Jets fan or Giants/Mets fan would be wayyyyy more popular than any Boston/NY fan.

When you say "found my Jets fandom again," remember, I've never had another team, so my gf of the last 7 years is very used to me rooting AGAINST her team, and when the play the Jets, yeah, I've always said I "don't care," but of course it makes me happy whenever the Jets beat them. But not full-on sports happy like I'd get back when I was a die-hard fan of them, life 'n' death style.

Rex Ryan of late has kind of effed things up for himself, but when they first got him--oh yeah, I was totally down with him. The anti-Belichick! And I knew all these Pats fans would be anti-Rex, even though I don't know how anybody could like a smirky face butthole like Belichick. On this very blog I held back from saying a lot of comments like "you all know you' want Rex coaching your team," but, whatever, I don't need to have fights all the time. I also was kind enough (!) to all the Pats fans when the Jets have beaten them, like that playoff game last year, to just not say anything, because whatever. It's more just like a devil's advocate-type pleasure I get when the Pats lose. Of course, I have that same pleasure when the Giants lose, and my lord I would love it right now if any other team was playing the Giants so I could root full-bore against them tomorrow. Instead I'm in Mets fan during Yanks-Phils World Series mode.
By the way--I don't know how you missed the "discussions" here when that '07 Super Bowl happened! AJM is still pissed at me! Which I don't really understand because I was never a Pats fan, so I don't see why people think I should root FOR the Pats. Granted, before they won THREE Super Bowls in four years and then 18 games in a row, I might have had no problem rooting for them that year, but ONLY BECAUSE they were playing the Giants.

I'm basically stuck rooting for whichever team's losing at any given moment.
I barely care about football, but I'm a Patriots fan, and I can honestly say I don't get it when people think they're somehow evil. It reminds me of drive-by idiots from other parts of the country saying that the Yankees and the Red Sox are "the same now." What are these people pointing at? If your football team is a rival (Jets, Giants, Colts, Dolphins etc), than it's completely sensible to think that they suck, but other than being fairly good over the last decade, what do they do that's annoying? They don't have anyone hateful or overrated on the team, they don't massively outspend other teams, they don't write off their opponents, or saturate the media with irritating ads (cough, Mannings...) Maybe the people sometimes focus more than it should
on Belichick's "Genius" or something, but that's hardly the Patriots' fault, and look at the other idiotic memes that engulf the sports media, at least it's something based on intelligence and not stupid intangible football qualities like "being physical" or "grinding it out." Not to mention how refreshing it is to have a team that doesn't blather on and on about how wonderful God is for giving them the strength to blah blah blah.

As I said before, I'm not the biggest football fan, but even so, the 2008 Superbowl still felt like a massive gut punch. It was like watching a perfect game broken up in the 9th -- you realize how infrequently someone gets a chance to earn that kind of achievement...and revenge would feel pretty good.

So respecting that you don't root for them under ordinary circumstances, if you decide to support them in the Superbowl here are a few reasons that might make you feel better about doing it:
1. It's cool that they decided to be the "New England" Patriots rather than the Boston Patriots. RI, NH, ME, VT, and CT deserve some love and it's a nice that they acknowledge us like that.
2. The hereditary Manning fiefdom is really, really annoying:
3. After 6 straight wins, when Tebow-mania was reaching it's fever pitch, and morons everywhere were talking about how the holy ghost was reaching his golden hand from out the heavens to guide his passes to 4th quarter glory -- it was the Patriots who utterly obliterated that sanctimonious virgin, and silenced the morons. And then re-obliterated them in the playoffs.
I do remember your thing four years ago about how they're not Yankee-like because obviously football rules are different with the payrolls and the revenue-sharing differences, etc.

My "neutral fandom" is obviously clouded by Jet-fandom, but I just kinda feel like I wouldn't like these Pats regardless, partly because I obviously don't like the Belichick attitude, and partly because they won those 3 and then just had to be perfect--I can see people not wanting to see them win anymore. I mean, I don't see why anybody was hating the Red Sox by '07, but I still admitted at the time that had I been a completely neutral fan, I probably would've picked the expansion team who never won over the team who'd just won recently. (Still, the Rays were in the same situation against us the next season in the ALCS, but I feel like they were dickish enough so that I would have rooted against them despite being a clear underdog.) I've also got that Brady-with-Yankee-hat-on image in my head so that didn't help their cause with me. Not like plenty of Jet players aren't Yankee fans.

So I don't know, maybe it has to do with fans looking for something different, AND, there's the whole "Boston teams win all the time now so we hate them," which I don't like because each sport is its own thing to me. ANd that's another reason why I don't like seeing the Pats win--it somehow makes me more of an asshole in other people's minds, since they assume I'm a Pats fan.

But as long as we're asking how you can hate a team, I just don't get why the Pats fans hate the Jets. No championships since '69, no big wins over the Pats (until last year at which they were already hating them anyway), gave you Brady's career with the take-out of Bledsoe, a little brother in NY more associated with the Mets than the Yanks (though of course frontrunning NY idiots will gladly switch from Giants to Jets the second the Jets become good). My friend's dad who liked Yanks/Giants/Knicks would MOCK me as a kid, saying, about the Jets and Red Sox that he "can't hate them, he just feels sorry for them..BECAUSE THEY'RE LOSERS." Right to my little kid face! So, yeah, a HUGE part of me not liking the Pats comes from Pats fans mocking my poor little loser team.
Hey, don't drag me into this. I just lost a very long replay that contained about a dozen points because I accidently hit the space bar and erased everything, and now it's 1am and I have to change a couple diapers in seven hours, so let me just say:

Go Pats! Make a lot of New Englanders who also root for the Sox happy. Make Kim happy. Make me happy. Make a lot of Yankee fans sad. And make Jere....whatever.
Ok, the babies are napping, so I'll do a condensed version of the comment:

1. I really have no problem with you hating the Pats as a Jets fan, that's completely understandable. But, as (Ryan) said, SB42 was a huge gut-punch, followed immediately by a bunch of asshole Yankee/Giant fans coming out of the woodwork (they were nowhere to be found prior to the game when everyone thought it would be a Patriots rout)and screaming "18-1" and "we wanted it more" and all that crap. Then I come here and see you pulling the "I'm a neutral guy who doesn't care about the NFL...but man wasn't it great seeing those Pats Choke! I was whooping it up and hollering about it when they lost in front of my Pats-fan girlfriend! They've won too much! How dare they try to have a perfect season" routine. Frankly, I thought it was a dick move, and really annoying.

2. We covered this back then (I think), but at that time the Sox had just won their 2nd World Series in four years...hadn't they "won too much"? And how do you know the folks in Baltimore weren't hating you because you're a Sox fan? O's fans seemed very pleased that they dealt the final death-blow in the September choke job...I think the past decade of dealing with the bandwagon-dickhead element of Sox Nation down at Camden Yards has really pissed THEM off.

3. Just like (Ryan) said (I think I made this point before too), the Pats aren't the Yanks, because they've won with a salary cap. And in similar fashion, Pats fans aren't Yanks fans. If you want to make the Sox fan/Jets fan analogy, I'd say that up to 2002, Pats fans were like Cubs fans. The ones that went back forty years to the AFL days had put up with plenty of crappy teams and incompetent owners, and a few nice runs that ended in AFL championship loss, getting screwed out of a SB trip by a lousy roughing the passer call in '76, getting blown out by 'Da Bears in '86, and Parcells not bothering to prepare the team against GB in '96. And since a lot of that crowd were also Sox fans, when the Pats finally pulled off a dramatic upset in 2002, it was cathartic and a sign that anything was possible. Yeah, there are some new-vintage dickhead Pats fans who hopped on the bandwagon in the past decade, but that's true of any franchise that wins.

4. I never cared about perfection back in '07, and that regular season was actually pretty joyless. Everybody else hated the Pats by then, and even as they kept winning, all the talk was that "Spygate! Cheaters!" crapola. That team had an aging defense that was completely out of fumes by the Super Bowl, so I was pretty fearful going into that game, knowing it wouldn't be a rout.

5. No, I don't wish that Rex Ryan coached my football team. I'll take the spork-faced, sour-pussed guy who actually gets to Super Bowls over the fat blohard who does a ton of talking about winning them, but can't execute on it. My Dad is actually a Jets fan (never took with me), and I was actually rooting for the Jets in the AFC Championship against the Colts. But man, with all the trash-talking Jets fans did after beating the Pats last year (yes, I know, you didn't do this)...well, let's just say I wasn't unhappy that the Steelers beat them last year. And I hate the Steelers.

6. If Belichick screwed over the Jets...well, Parcells screwed over the Pats first. Turnabout is fair play. And frankly, what Parcells did was worse...focusing more on moving over to Gang Green than on coming up with a Super Bowl gameplan.

Ok...enjoy the game! I'm loving the fact that the Pats are huge underdogs this time.
About 1., I was talking all along leading up to SB42, I let everybody know the stuff I was going through. I thought you were in on those conversations, not just seeing what I said after, but I could be wrong.

About the Ravens thing, I just meant that it was mere days after they choked their season away, and when people saw me, they weren't thinking about baseball, they were thinking Eff you, Pats boy. (But I did have a nice conversation with some O's fans (the guitarist of Brian's new band and his gf), who said they generally liked Sox fans from New England, don't like the badwagon ones from elsewhere. And then the guy actually beat me to the line "we can all unite in our hatred of the Yankees.")

Spygate is crapola? I thought they totally cheated. And the Jets ended up being caught on the same thing.

It is weird about the whole thing of the Pats being favored, but "everybody" picking the Giants.
Also, I rooted against a 12-point favorite in the SB who'd won 3 other Super Bowls and I'm a dick? I wasn't saying PATRIOTS fans should root against the Patriots, but I certainly wouldn't think too many neutral fans would root for them.

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