This weekend’s matchup between the Patriots and Eagles is a “lesser of two evils” situation for a lot of neutral fans around the league. Plenty of people hate the Patriots and their fans, and plenty of people hate the Eagles and their fans.
But, when it comes down to it, sports are more fun when you pick a side and have a rooting interest. With that in mind, there are going to be a number of people who begrudgingly find themselves in a corner and rooting for a team they never thought they would ever see themselves backing. Sports are weird like that sometimes.
If you’re one of those people who’s on the fence and having some difficulty picking which house of horrors you would rather find yourself in, let me assist. Here are five reasons why you should just swallow your pride, join Team Goliath and root for the Patriots for one single day. I promise you it will be over quick.
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1. You’re going to root for Philly fans?
You had to know this reason would be at the top of the list, right?
Sure, every fanbase has its bad apples and it’s somewhat unfair to overgeneralize, but Philly fans continue to earn their reputation as an extremely volatile bunch. Not only that, they seem to be proud of the nastiness associated with their team’s faithful.
You have to go back only as far as the NFC Championship Game to get a glimpse at that nastiness. One Eagles fan punched a police horse outside the stadium. Several others chucked full beer cans at Vikings fans before the game, then pelted the Vikings’ team bus on the way out of the stadium after the Eagles’ win.
They even had the audacity to insult that adorable 99-year-old Vikings fan, Millie, during the NFC title game, an offense that should be punishable by law. Millie has basically become the NFL‘s darling this season, and a slight against Millie is a slight against us all.
Sure, some Eagles fans tried to negate their gross behavior by donating money to charity in the wake of the NFC championship, but if Philly fans had to pay reparations every time they were the worst, they would all be in crippling debt.
And while New England fans aren’t exactly saints either, it says something that neutral fans are even considering rooting for the Patriots in this game. With all their rule bending and winning over the years, the Patriots have essentially become a widely despised evil force atop the NFL’s ranks. Scores of fans are (and have been) desperate to see them get knocked off that throne.
And yet, it seems like a significant percentage of neutral fans reluctantly find themselves in the Patriots’ corner heading into Super Bowl Sunday because they just can’t bring themselves to root for the people of Philly. That’s how rancid the stink on the Eagles’ fanbase is.
2. For history and for legacy
It gets pretty tiresome to watch the same teams thoroughly dominate over an extended period of time, so it’s understandable that plenty of football fans are eager for the day that the Patriots’ empire ceases to exist. It’s exhausting and frustrating to watch them win over and over again.
However, this Patriots reign is one of the most dominant and historic displays of sustained success in the history of the NFL. There remains little doubt that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, and Bill Belichick certainly has a case for best coach of all time.
Even for non-Patriots fans, there should be some sense of wonder and appreciation when it comes to watching what New England has accomplished over the years. Modern sports leagues tend to be shaped for parity, so the level of sustained excellence that the Patriots’ current regime has accomplished is nothing short of rare and special — even if just a bit infuriating.
Super Bowl LII brings the fleeting opportunity to witness greatness being built upon. Brady and Belichick can win their sixth Super Bowl together, which is a record that could go untouched for a very, very long time. Say what you want about either of those guys, but there’s no questions that they are walking legends.
If you don’t have a dog in the fight, you should just sit back and hope to see greatness play out, even if it leads to a quiet rage or copious amounts of envy inside you. One day you’ll get to tell your kids or grandkids that you witnessed history in the making.
3. The hope that the Patriots might rest on their laurels
Again, almost everyone outside of New England is really sick and tired of the Patriots at this point. It’s hard to blame them.
It seems like once a year there’s a development that hints toward the Patriots’ dynasty nearing its end, only for the Pats to surge back stronger than ever. They simply will not die.
This season, that development centered on the alleged deteriorating relationships among the leadership triangle of Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft. How much truth was contained in those reports remains somewhat of a mystery, and maybe we’ll never know.
But what we do know is that a loss in Super Bowl LII isn’t going to ruin Brady or Belichick’s legacy or bring the whole empire crumbling down. In fact, if anything, a loss would probably motivate them even more heading into next season.
Do you really want to deal with another Patriots campaign in which Brady and Belichick have extra motivation? We’ve seen how that story ends.
Instead, fans who want to see the Patriots’ reign come to an end actually might be better off rooting for them to beat the Eagles. Guys who are as proud and competitive as Brady and Belichick seem much more likely to call it quits while they’re on top.
There’s little to suggest that Brady wants anything to do with retirement (which is why Jimmy Garoppolo is in San Francisco) and why should he? He’s the favorite to win NFL MVP and isn’t showing many signs of slowing down.
However, there’s actually a prop bet that wagers on whether Belichick will announce his retirement right after the game. It seems unlikely (and the odds aren’t great) but it’s also not inconceivable.
Where there’s smoke there’s often fire, so maybe there is some discontent in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Belichick’s offensive and defensive coordinators are expected to depart this offseason, meaning the coach would have some work to do installing a new staff for next season. (Though it stands to reason one of those coordinators might have stuck around if they thought Belichick was considering retirement.)
With a sixth Super Bowl win to his name and a bit of uncertainty ahead, maybe Belichick actually entertains the thought of walking away. Again, it seems like a long shot but if there’s even a tiny chance of it happening, all 31 other NFL teams and fanbases should be rooting hard for the possibility of not having to face Belichick again.
4. To avoid all the contrived Nick Foles/Carson Wentz takes
Regardless of whether the Eagles win or lose Sunday, Carson Wentz is the Eagles’ starting quarterback of the future. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, that person can’t be trusted.
And yet, if the Eagles win their first Super Bowl with Nick Foles at the helm of the offense, it seems inevitable that the insufferable hot takes and contrived controversy would find their way into the picture.
If Foles does indeed become the first backup quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Brady did it in 2001, then good for him. He’ll likely secure himself a starting job somewhere outside of Philly because of it.
But Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz. Foles is a 29-year-old quarterback who has had trouble locking down starting jobs throughout his career, and Wentz is a 25-year-old stud that led the Eagles to the top of the NFC and looked like a potential MVP candidate until a devastating knee injury took him out of the lineup. Foles has done a great job of stepping in and restoring hope, but this is still Wentz’s team and it likely will be for a long while to come.
If you want to save yourself the headache that comes with having to hear otherwise, you should probably just pull for New England.
5. Philly fans. Seriously?
Rooting for Philly fans to find joy in their lives? Could never be me.
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