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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Life as a Boston sports fan: Not just if but who

Published: January 18, 2008
Section: Sports

Well you can put the Patriots’ name on the 2007 Lombardi Trophy after both the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts bowed out of this year’s playoffs this past weekend.

After all, those were the only two teams that could conceivably end the Patriots’ quest to obtain perfection.

This weekend the Patriots will play a banged up San Diego Chargers team, one that they obliterated in week 2 by a score of 38-14, while the Giants and Packers will attempt to dismantle each other for the right to lose this year’s Super Bowl to the greatest sports team of all time.

While watching the Chargers-Colts game this past Sunday, I, along with every other New England Patriots fan, was adamantly cheering for Peyton Manning to restore his choking ways because, in reality, the only team that seemed like it could have a chance at knocking the Patriots off of their 17-0 throne was the Indianapolis Colts. While watching this game, I found myself rooting against the Colts just as hard as I cheer for my beloved New England Patriots.

However, when Peyton Manning and the Colts failed to orchestrate a game-winning drive at the end of regulation, I did not have the same feeling of jubilance that I do when the Patriots win. But why was this the case? I mean, I was cheering for the Colts to lose just like I cheer for the Patriots to win.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out the answer to this question and then it hit me. Being a Boston sports fan isn’t just about winning championships anymore. It’s about who you beat when you win them. When the Patriots defeat the Chargers this weekend, it simply isn’t going to feel as good as it would have had they beaten the Colts.

For instance, in 2004 the Boston Red Sox overcame the impossible odds of surmounting a 3-0 series deficit to the New York Yankees. While the 2004 championship would have been special regardless (due to the fact that they had broken the Curse of the Bambino) it was extra special because of who they beat to win it – the New York Yankees.

When the Red Sox won this past season, the feeling in Beantown simply wasn’t the same. Now maybe it was because they had won three years ago and the curse had already been broken, but I say the championship would have been more celebrated had the Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in the ALCS instead of the Cleveland Indians.

As is the case with the 2007 Red Sox, the 2007 Patriots are also going to leave their fans with the taste of bitter-sweetness because this year’s championship just isn’t going to feel the same when the Pats beat the Chargers instead of the Colts.

For the Patriots, this season was all about setting records and redeeming their past and, let’s face it, every New England Patriots fan wanted to see Tom Brady against Peyton Manning for the AFC Championship. Especially after last year’s catastrophic collapse in Indianapolis, there was a sense of redemption that everyone in New England was hoping to feel this year, and the Pats were supposed to beat the Colts for the rights to play for the highly coveted Lombardi Trophy, not the Bolts.

When Brady and the Pats beat up on a pathetic Philip Rivers and company this Sunday at Foxboro, it just isn’t going to feel the same as it would have had they beaten the Colts, I guarantee it. So when you are sitting on your sofa wondering why the feeling of having your team win the AFC championship doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would, remember this article.

Life as a Boston sports fan is pretty unbelievable right now, given the fact that fans like me can make a case about one championship being better than another because of who our teams defeated on their path to the titles.

Having said all of this, I think I speak for every Boston Celtics fan when I say that I would be perfectly content with the Celtics beating the Raptors and Hornets in their quest to capture the NBA title this summer instead of the traditional Sixers and Lakers.