The NFL has captured the passion and imagination of our country for so long that it has entwined itself with every part of our culture. They say that life imitates art. One has to wonder, are we just becoming an imitation of the performances they put in front of us on the field every Sunday? The question you will need to ask yourself as we go back through the last decade and a half of Super Bowls and politics is, “Has it gone too far?” Feel free to follow along as we discover that not only has every Super Bowl this century had a specific theme, but it is also a reflection of what we can expect from our country on a broader spectrum.
2001- No Body Cares Bowl
Do you remember back at the turn of the millennium when the Baltimore Ravens (Maryland is one of the states that donated land for Washington D.C.) crushed the New York Giants (the team from the Greatest City in the East Coast) in the Super Bowl? Of course you don’t. Nothing had happened yet to catch our attention. So why are we even talking about this? Why is it relevant? It’s not really. Except for the fact that they were just laying the ground work, and teaching us a lesson that “defense is important.” It wins Championships!
2002 -911 Bowl
I have no doubt, however, that you remember that dreadful year when New York City was attacked. The whole country, man, woman and child were left in terror, and in a brilliant twist of fate, the Patriots (the team that represents early America) who beat the Raiders (the team that was once from the Greatest City on the West Coast) thanks to the Tuck Rule, went on to beat the Saint Louis Rams (the team from the Gateway City) for the victory that every American would cherish. They gave us something to be proud of, something to calm our fears.
2003 – John Gruden Bowl
A year later, while we were all reveling in the greatness of our country. John Gruden (the league’s most popular young coach) left Oakland for the Sunshine State, and led his new team, the Buccaneers to a victory over his nasty old team, the Raiders, who thought they deserved to be in the Super Bowl the year before. Was it all just another coincidence? Or was there some sort of theme developing here as the “old” gave way to the “new.”
For future reference, it was also the year the “Rooney Rule” was put in place.
2004 – Oh Shit! Bowl
But wait a minute. What about that brave little team from New England with the mad genius coach and wonderboy quarterback who were irrelevant before they won the Super Bowl 2 years ago, but had left a mark of pride on every citizen of this proud country. We almost forgot about them. As a matter of fact they weren’t even in the playoffs the year before. Don’t worry, they are back, and they are playing in the biggest game against another nice team from the East Coat, the Carolina Panthers (the upcoming city that represents prosperity). The Patriots win again, but just barely. Had this team really found the magic formula to success? Or did they simply have to justify their first win without making it too obvious? Only time will tell, but for now it feels good, and makes perfect sense.
Also, as a side note, this was an election year, but I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself just yet.
2005 – Dynasty Bowl
You guessed it. The Patriots are here again. Why? Because now they’ve made you comfortable with the idea that this team who has never really been relevant at any point in history, excluding a few choice cameos of course, is the real deal. So when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles (the city who represents our Liberty) you barely bat an eye. I mean, 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. This renegade squad who just came crashing down on us like a plane out of the sky, might just be the best team of all time.
2006 – Homecoming Bowl
The last time Detroit (the Motor City), hosted a Super Bowl was in 1982. This year, after Jerome Bettis (one of the most popular running backs of the era) announced his intention to retire, the Pittsburgh Steelers (the Steel City) beat the Seattle Seahawks (the city that represents the lumber industry, and that also popularized the grunge lifestyle) in the “Bus'” home town. What could distract us more easily from the puppets on the strings on the stage in front of us than a fan favorite going out in style in front of his hometown fans?
2007- NAACP Bowl
For years now, we had known that Tony Dungy was going to be the first African American Head Coach to coach his team in a Super Bowl. Why? We didn’t know this yet, but it would be a lot easier to have an African American President, if an African American had just been to the big game the year before. As luck would have it, not only did Dungy win, but he just so happened to beat his good friend Lovie Smith, who also happened to be the other first African American Head Coach to coach in a Super Bowl, and his team happened to be the Chicago Bears (the city which represents Barack Obama).
The winning quarterback in that game was Peyton Manning.
2008- NoBody is Perfect Bowl
Earlier this year it had come to light that the Patriots who had won our hearts by unifying our country after 9/11, just may have cheated during their Super Bowl run. Was is possible that our most beautiful truth could actually be a brutal lie? Was somebody attempting to pull the wool over our eyes? There was only one way to rectify the situation. Let Tom Brady and his crew win every game that season. Well, at least every game until they met the team who hailed from the city where the attack had taken place. Even though on paper it seemed like their was no way the New York Giants could possibly win this game against such an impossible opponent, they did. David had once again beat Goliath. Justice was served.
The winning quarterback in that game was Eli Manning. And by the way, it was an election year, and just like in the Super Bowl, the underdog won.
2009 – Rooney Rule Bowl
This year, after longtime Coach Mike Tomlin retired, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a decision to make. They were looking for a new head coach, and the top three candidates where Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Offensive Line Coach Russ Grimm, or Rooney Rule candidate Mike Tomlin. In a politically correct world, the Steelers knew they better do the politically correct thing. So obviously they chose Tomlin. Whisenhunt and Grimm went off to coachthe Arizona Cardinals ( the state that represents immigration). Ironically, even though the Cardinals hadn’t been to any form of championship game in 51 years,the two teams met in the Super Bowl, and Tomlin won. Not only was this a happy victory for minorities, it was further proof that the country had done the right thing by electing an African American president.
2010 – Katrina Bowl
The New Orleans Saints had been been irrelevant forever. As a matter of fact before they traded for Drew Brees, the only player who had ever meant anything to the team had been star quarterback Archie Manning. Now it’s one thing to believe that the government knew that a terrorist attack would happen, but a natural disaster? Is that even possible? Well after the city of New Orleans had been destroyed, and they advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the Minnesotta Vikings and Brett Favre who had grown up about an hour away from the “Big Easy,”not only did the ‘Aints save the day, but they did it by defeating Archie Manning’s son Peyton.
2011 – Traitors Will not be Tolerated Bowl
Brett Favre had brought the glory days back to the Green Bay Packers (the city that represents the fans as owners). He had not only become the favorite son of the Packers, but of the NFL as a whole, and the symbol of endurance and determination we could all relate to. However, the Packers had moved on to a new quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, the one who Favre had held down for 3 years. The year after Favre lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, he started to unravel. The Packers and Rodgers struggled through an injury plagued year, but somehow managed to take the route of the Wild Card to win the Super Bowl the year he retired,in New Orleans of course, and his most loyal fans turned against him. Once again the underdog had won, and the tyrant who turned his back on his team had been put in his place.
2012 – Deja vu Bowl
Once again it’s an election year, and just like clockwork the Patriots and Giants are in the Super Bowl. The precedent had been set the year before by the Packers, that a Wild Card team could win the big game. Once again the Giants won, and Obama was re-elected.
2013 – Sibling Rivalry Bowl
Is it just coincidence that once again a first happened in the Super Bowl? That Ravens Coach Jim Haurbaugh, and 49ers Coach John Harbaugh were pitted against each other? Brother against Brother, East Coast against West Coast. Now that we’d already been warned about what happens to traitors, were they threatening us with Civil War? The “good” brother beat the “bad” brother. Was that some kind of message. Maybe. But if Ray Lewis (who represents O.J. Simpson) can win a championship in his last year in the league, then I’m guessing we are probably safe. Right?
2014 – Smoka Bowl
This time the irony was a bit more subtle, but it just so happened that marijuana being legalized brought on a matchup of teams from Colorado and Washington, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. After all the tragedy that the country had faced, I guessed they decided that they would let us all feel a mile high. Well, at least until the Seahawks crushed the Broncos. Then we all just felt confused. What was the message we were supposed to learn from this one? It appears the only answer was that now the defense had gone on the offensive.
2015- War on Drugs Bowl
Of course this year they have to dash our hopes and remind us of the price we have to pay for them giving us hope how many years ago. They proved that even in a year that they struggle, they can march back into our world any time they want to, and take away our fun. No matter if the Patriots were dishonest, they were our Saviors, and we just had to deal with it. Remind you of anyone?
2016 – Untoucha Bowl
It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe Tom Brady cheated. That wasn’t the point they were trying to prove. The point is that they want you to know that even if he did, there is nothing you can do about it. And even if the Patriots lose every player on the roster, he will still find a way to beat you, whenever he and the “Hoodie” see fit. Because they are that good? No. Because they saved you from 9/11. They deserve your unconditional trust.
But before you go and guess that I’m predicting the Patriots will win the Super Bowl in 2016, remember this. It’s an election year. After 8 games the Giants are an invisible 4-4. Even though they lead their division by half a game, nobody is taking them serious. They are very quietly the best team in the league’s most unpredictable division. However, if you watched the game this week, you probably noticed that Eli Manning is starting to find his groove again. The Giants may have lost but they were part of the most exciting game of the season against the New Orleans Saints, and what you probably don’t know is, after losing two fingers in the most patriotic way possible, in a fireworks accident on the 4th of July, Jason Pierre-Paul is only a game or two away from coming back to help shore up the Giants defense, and as we all know, Defense wins Championships!
Oh…About that other thing.
Its becoming very clear that whoever is pulling the strings behind the curtain, is well aware that they can convince us that anything is okay in real life, as long as it happens on the football field first. Just in case you weren’t aware, this year they introduced us to the idea that it’s fine for a woman to coach or ref in an NFL game.
So after you watch the Super Bowl, don’t forget to get out and vote. Your country is counting on you!