I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Superbowl 51 (LI) because the Patriots were not my favorite team, especially after (deflategate) and their long run as a dominate team. Additionally, I’m not a Lady Gaga fan so I didn’t want to see her halftime show. I didn’t want the preachy progressive commercials—so I didn’t have high expectations for the game. However, I was explaining the psychological meaning of the Superbowl games to American culture with people from other counties last week, because they were mystified by the wall to wall coverage of the game they were seeing on television. I explained to them that American football was a special game specific to our culture and that the Superbowl in America was like a holiday celebrating the great gifts of capitalism. Even the altruistic aspects of the various charities that the NFL supports are direct derivatives of the excesses produced by capitalism for which football is so symbolic. With that in mind I watched the game with just a little bit of renewed interest because Tom Brady and the owner and coach of the New England Patriots were personal friends of Donald Trump. I thought it would be nice if the Patriots won since Tom Brady has shown that he’d often do anything to win even if it sometimes crossed the line—much like Trump. The spirit of winning was important, and I thought it would be a good thing if the Patriots won in the same year that Trump won the presidency so from that perspective, I was interested.
After the late score in the fourth quarter after a 2-point conversion my wife asked me what the odds were of closing the 8-point gap between the Patriots who had essentially been written off in the game and the Falcons who had a 25-point lead at halftime. I mean it was 28 to 9 with two minutes left in the third quarter—so like I told her, it was unlikely that the Patriots would be able to get the ball back and drive down the field over 90 yards with only a few minutes left on the clock—score a touchdown and get another two-point conversion within the same quarter. The odds were just too overwhelming. Yet in the back of my mind I thought of the type of people who win a lot—who always feel that as long as there is breath in their lungs, they have a chance. I know I’m like that, but I don’t meet many people who are—who never feel they are down and out. The last time I’ve seen it outside of some situations in my family was the night before the Trump win when the then presidential candidate went to Michigan at 1 am to hit one more rally—which ironically pushed him through the Blue Wall of politics—and gave him the win in within the electoral college.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick looked like there was all the time in the world. Brady never looked frazzled, never looked desperate, never looked like the game was in jeopardy. Quietly Brady amassed an incredible 466 yards through the air most of it in the fourth quarter forcing the game into the first overtime Superbowl in the history of the game. Brady and company won the coin toss and proceeded to march down the field and score a touchdown which ended the game. And with Brady’s hands on the ball in overtime it just always felt like the Patriots were going to win because the best quarterback in history has that kind of feel—like Joe Montana used to have as a field presence. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in sports—and a metaphor for many things that are distinctly American.
Tom Brady had a lot of reasons to blame the NFL and free agency for why he could have lost and never had to apologize for it. After all, Brady started the season with a four-game suspension for deflategate. There were no “big receivers” on the Patriots team—like a Randy Moss from the past, or the great Julio Jones on the Falcons sideline. The big name tight-end on the Patriots team was not able to play the game and the running game with one of my favorite players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LeGarrette Blount, was struggling and going nowhere. All Brady had was a bunch of undersized receivers who were scrappy, aggressive, and playing way above their head. Julian Edelman is only like 5’ 10” and he was playing like he was 6’ 5” with a 40” vertical leap. He amazingly out-worked most of the Falcons secondary to get open for Brady to hit with laser blasts that were simply amazing—and he did it with his head down into a grinding fashion and without a lot of fanfare. It was a very impressive performance that I never expected to come out so positively. Yet it did by working with what he had around him. It was pretty amazing.
But before all that I was enjoying the Americana aspects of the Superbowl festivities and was greatly relieved to see that the Lady Gaga Halftime Show was actually really good. She may have supported Hillary Clinton and works toward progressive causes—she may actually be one of those Spirit Cooking people that John Podesta likes so much—but any woman who jumps into a stadium after singing a song on top of the roof is good in my book. She was actually fearless in a way I haven’t seen since Michael Jackson performed in a Superbowl, but these stunts that Lady GaGa performed were actually dangerous, especially considering that she was going into full choreography once she hit the stage below. It was an amazing performance that I was worried would be filled with political anti-Trump messages—which were there in small degrees, but not enough to matter.
She did a classy, tasteful show that indicated that this particular Superbowl had a really uniting factor to it which defined much what I had told my foreign guests. I know the Falcon fans are upset, but overall, they played in one of the greatest games in sports history. And the best that entertainment could put forward performed under the sponsorship of companies thriving under our capitalist system and the best players in football with the best coaching and ownership staffs won. So it was a great experience. A real treat in the middle of winter setting off a continuation of the Trump election victory—because after that game, it felt fun to be an American. The conclusion of that game is what it now feels like to be an American again—and that’s not a bad thing.
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