tomorrow, superbowl XLVI will feature a rematch of superbowl XLII between the new york football giants and the new england patriots. in february 2008, the patriots were one game away from an unprecedented 19-0 season before the giants concluded an amazing postseason run (that included beating the top 2 nfc seeds, dallas and green bay, on the road) by beating the patriots in one of the great upsets in sports history.
superbowl XLVI will only feature 20 players from that memorable 2008 game but these two superbowls will forever be tied to each other no matter the result. rather than analyze the game from a football perspective, let's try and look at the game from a fan's perspective.
it's hard to be objective when you are sports fan. it's even harder still when all the analysts, pundits and commentators only strive for interesting narratives and extreme opinions.
for patriots fans, the 2007 season will forever be a failure. it's one thing to be 17-1 heading into the superbowl and lose... sure it's tough, but the lone loss in the regular season is a constant reminder that your team is capable of losing. but going 16-0 in the regular season and then 2-0 in the playoffs, as the 2007 patriots did, creates an expectation that only a championship can live up to.
so when the giants defeated the patriots in superbowl XLII, patriots fans felt like they had been robbed of something that they undeniably and inalienably had a right to. superbowl XLII was to be the culmination of a dynasty (the 2000's patriots), the coronation of a king (either brady or belichick), the fulfillment of their destiny (perfection). the arguments were already laid out on the table for why the patriots were the greatest team and dynasty of all time; why brady was the greatest quarterback and belichick the greatest coach. and who, in their right mind, could have denied them that?... only if they had won of course.
the worst part (no, not really) might be the three year aftermath of superbowl XLII. between the david tyree catch (seen below) replays, missing the playoffs in 2008 (after going 11-5) and losing both playoff games (at home) in 2009 and 2010, the patriots have failed to live up to the most modest of expectations. but in 2011 (2012), finally a shot at redemption.
a win over the giants tomorrow will convince some (though incorrectly) that all has been made right in the world, that order has been restored. a modicum of relief may finally set in. at the end of the day, brady and belichick will still get their 4th rings, tying joe montana, terry bradshaw and chuck noll, respectively, for the most all-time.
sure, everything will seem alright for a time and patriots fans will be able to suppress the nightmares of 2008 for awhile. it's the self-delusion of a sports fan.
we didn't even belong here in the first place. it's the perfect emotional state to be in when you are unsure of the impending results. when you expect results because of previous high levels of performance, you better hope you win or else (see above). lucky for us, we're pretty much in a win-win situation. i love how fan psychology works.
with a loss, eli and coughlin will be 1-1 in superbowls. it's a solid achievement. i mean, brett favre went 1-1 and he's one of the greatest quarterbacks in nfl history. as did bill cowher. moreover, losing to the 2011 patriots is less worse than beating the 2007 patriots was great. so overall, we're still ahead.
with a win, however, now you're entering extreme sports fan snobbery territory. remarks, such as, "eli is 2-0 against brady in superbowls" enter the conversation. even after the argument touting mvps, 5 superbowls, 3 rings, a hall-of-fame career and even giselle, all a giants fan needs to do is lay back, smirk and say "0-2 vs. the giants when it counted" - fans are a twisted lot.
don't get me wrong. it's not like there's nothing riding on this game. a superbowl win is a superbowl win no matter how you slice it. and for a few minutes, hours and maybe even days after the game, it'll sting if the giants lose. maybe when you're home alone or with other giants fans, you'll allow yourself to admit that it was pretty shitty to lose the superbowl. but we can always find some comfort in the fact that if a patriots fan wants to talk some shit to you, you need only point to 2008 and show him a clip of this video....
NEW YORK GIANTS - 34
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - 27