I didn't expect to care so much about this Superbowl.
I hardly care about football to begin with. Even when I did, I disliked the Patriots; they embodied a Route 128-style Massachusetts suburbia. Of course, that was before I experienced even worse suburban forms. At least a strain of pig-headedly generous New England provincialism still runs through the Massachusetts version.
No matter where they hailed from, though, I would've wanted the Patriots to win. Not because I cheer for favorites -- I'm a perpetual lover of underdogs and long shots, underachievers on a roll, rookies too dumb to know they don't belong and veterans all too aware. But sometimes perfection is the underdog.
Eighteen wins, no losses; one more to go before becoming the most successful team in NFL history. A player is lucky to play just once in a championship game, but at least there's one championship a year. In thirty-seven years, exactly two games like tonight's have taken place.
It's not just about the players. Sports never is. It's about the poetry, the narrative, and about us. If they show grace under pressure, nail the one shot they're ever going to get, so might we. Graceful the Patriots were. But they lost.
P.S. About the title of the post: how else did the network find people still willing to go crazy for Tom Petty?
P.P.S. Before the NFL started to feel so mercenary, commercialized and utterly brutal that watching it sometimes made me feel complicit in an unspoken crime, I was a Packers fan. Don Majkowski to Sterling Sharpe, then and forever