There are a lot of fans in New England who aren't interested in watching the game today. Indy beat the Pats twice this year, and ended our dreams of further cementing the Pats' place in history. Peyton is overexposed, and nobody wants to watch his goofy grin upon being handed the trophy. On the same lines, Chicago is a team that ran the table against the NFC this year, a feat which hasn't earned them any respect. They struggled against the likes of Arizona, and sometimes seemed to be nothing but smoke and mirrors.
So why watch this matchup?
I'll take you back to Superbowl XXXII. John Elway, who positively owned the Pats during his career, was facing Brett Favre, who had defeated the Pats the year before. Pats fans didn't want either of these guys taking the trophy. Elway was to us, what the Pats were to Manning (up until this year, grr). Favre's victory lap around the Superdome was still fresh in our minds.
With this context in mind, I watched a 30-minute highlight show on this game, today, on ESPN2. And I grinned like a little kid. I relished the tension, the drama, seeing the game unfold, watching the big hits, and big drives, the determination and grit as the Broncos' ran the Packers over enough times to wear them down and win the game.
And when Elway hoisted that trophy up, I still felt that residual resentment. "Now retire, and let us start winning AFC championships." But beyond that, I looked at two legends, at or near the tops of their games. And I knew I was watching something beyond what mattered to our team. This was history, this was football.
This year, the story is no less compelling. Manning, at the top of his game, with his aw-shucks grin and a team built to propel him to the top. Chicago, with decades of historical greatness in defense, ready to take it all away and slowly grind the game away with a punishing running game. Rex Grossman, inexperienced, maligned, ready to either win it for his team or lose it with a single foolish throw.
For these men and their families, this may well be the day they most remember, for the rest of their lives.
It's the Superbowl. The final showdown you've been building towards since August. You have to watch. I mean, who knows what you might miss?