Friday, January 30, 2015

A House Divided

Coming later this evening, I wrap up my Super Bowl Preview with my official pick. 

I have been a Seahawks fan since I chose to root for the blue team watching a game when I was about 4 years old. I have lived in New England for 13 of the first 18 years of my life (My family was outside of the country for the other 5 years). I went to college in Rhode Island, and had the good fortune to meet and start dating the woman I would call my wife almost 5 years later. I could fill up an entire blog with why I am lucky to be married to Celinda, but for the purposes of this blog, I will focus on one: she is a legitimate sports fan.

When I'm watching a big game, I want to be watching it with her. Partly because she's an important part of my life, but also because she's into the game too. The picture above is from then-Qwest Field for the Patriots Seahawks game in Seattle back in 2008. The tickets to this game were her first anniversary present to me. She can speak very intelligently on the game we're watching, and it's fun to debate with her while watching because she knows her stuff cold. There have been many times she's said something while we watch a game together, and it leads me to do some research and ends up being the focus of one of my blog posts. Most sports fans want to watch the game with other knowledgeable sports fans. I'm lucky in that I don't have to go outside my family to do so.

We haven't had to deal with competing interests very often. The Patriots and Seahawks have been in opposite conferences since 2002, so they play once every 4 years and could meet in the Super Bowl. That was always an abstract thought, at least in my mind, because Seattle was infrequently good enough for me to even think about them making the Super Bowl. And while we rooted for our respective teams when they met in the regular season, out-of-conference games are lowest on the importance scale, so a loss never stung that much.

So how does this work, exactly? This isn't Red Sox/Yankees, or Patriots/Jets. We don't have any real experience rooting for competing interests in a game where there's this much at stake for both teams.

Last year, it was very easy to watch the Super Bowl together. In one corner sat my Seattle Seahawks, searching for their first championship. In the other corner sat the Denver Broncos, the team with Peyton Manning (the Patriots' biggest rival in the Brady/Belichick era), and the team that had just eliminated the Patriots in the AFC Championship game two weeks prior. Not only was her team not in the Super Bowl (freeing her up to cheer for my team), but a team she usually rooted against as a Pats fan was the opponent.

This year the improbable has come to pass. Her Patriots against my Seahawks. At stake for the Patriots is their third shot at a fourth title. Four Super Bowl wins will elevate Brady to the level of Montana if not even higher, in many minds. With Brady aging, it may be the last great chance for the Patriots of this era to get their fourth title. It would also shut up the legion of  people who bring up Brady and Belichick's zero titles since Spygate (aside: if doing this to tweak Patriots fans, okay, but if being done seriously, it's a stupid argument). At stake for the Seahawks is the ability to join a much more exclusive club. Forty-eight times a team has won the Super Bowl. Eight times has a team won the Super Bowl in back-to-back years. The Patriots of 2003 and 2004 were the last to do it.

And that's what makes it hard. If Seattle was going for their first ever title, I'd say there was significantly more at stake for me in this game than for her. If Seattle weren't in their repeat year, the reverse would be true. Not that either of us would root for the other even with different stakes, but the sting of a possible loss would be less. In truth, I won't be devastated if Seattle loses to the Patriots. I saw this team win it all last year, and they should be a factor (barring injuries) for years (I feel like I should knock on wood here). I'll even be happy for Celinda if she gets to see the Patriots hoist the trophy again. But it will feel like a missed opportunity, and that will hurt. I imagine Celinda will have similar feelings if Seattle is able to repeat.

In the end, she will root hard for the Pats, and I will root hard for the Seahawks, but we'll definitely think about the other, even in the middle of celebrating big plays for our teams. Absent a blowout, I think it will actually be fun, even if a bit weird at times.

Love you honey, but Go Hawks!

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