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Taibbi writes: "My personal excitement level Sunday night was between enjoying a good cheeseburger and waking up to find a boil gone."

Tom Brady. (photo: Getty)
Tom Brady. (photo: Getty)


The Worst Super Bowl in History?

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

06 February 19


As the Patriots clinched their sixth Super Bowl, even the winning team seemed bored by Sunday night’s punt-a-thon

n behalf of Patriots fans everywhere, I apologize for the Super Bowl. We know it was a terrible game. We also know you hate us. Hell, I hate us.

Even we don’t enjoy this that much anymore. My personal excitement level Sunday night was between enjoying a good cheeseburger and waking up to find a boil gone.

Aesthetically there have definitely been worse Super Bowls. The 1995 Niners-Chargers game was over in five minutes. The Eighties and early Nineties were filled with games like that, blowouts decided before your second beer. Super Bowl V, in 1971, featured 11 turnovers and a missed extra point.

But Sunday’s game was 14 punts and four hours of offensive ineptitude capped by an ending that depressed everyone outside New England. The Patriots themselves struggled to conceal the mildness of their excitement over their just-good-enough win. Devin McCourty, yawning almost, called it “still a pretty good feeling.” Depending on your point of view was either an amusing middle finger to the rest of the country or the ultimate testament to their vile corporate personality, or both.

Tom Brady, in previous Super Bowls, jumped up and down like a kindergartener (the Seattle game in 2015) and collapsed from exhaustion (the Falcons’ comeback in 2017). After his first championship in 2002 he seemed dumbfounded with excitement, wearing the “Who, me?” look of the next contestant on The Price is Right as he stood with his hand on his head staring in all directions.

This time around, in the postgame interview with Tracy Wolfson, the gazillionaire 41-year-old struggled to identify why he was celebrating. Thinking for a moment, he said, “We’ve, uh, been this far and lost, which is really tough,” then added, “I wish we’d played a little better on offense, but we won… Super Bowl champs.”

Two weeks of hype for, Well, it’s better than losing. No wonder everyone hates us. He looked about as happy as your Dad unwrapping yet another shaving kit on Christmas morning.

A lot of people this week are saying things like, “We’ll never see a dynasty like this again.” That might not be true. I could see Patrick Mahomes ripping off six titles. What we’ll never see again is a team that makes it to a ninth Super Bowl and unironically plays the “nobody believed in us” card when they get there.

Even curmudgeon-in-chief Bill Belichick, who normally keeps such thoughts imprisoned behind that Easter Island face, was babbling about how “Everyone counted us out” in his postgame interview. This is a man who repaints the name of his boat with each title and will soon be puttering around the Vineyard in a vessel called “VIII Rings” (he counts the two he won as a coordinator with the Giants). Count you out? The Patriots are as inevitable as herpes to most Americans.

The one poor kid who ran his mouth about the Patriots in the last few weeks was Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. His crime was being insufficiently pedigreed as a player to say true things about Brady (Aqib Talib would have gotten away with it). Robey-Coleman said age had “taken its toll” on the GOAT, who was “not the sharpest” and “not the same quarterback” he’d seen as a member of the Buffalo Bills, hinting Brady’s arm and brain had both slowed. The kid was seemingly forced by someone to backtrack in a public statement in Atlanta a few days later that was as convincing as a captured jet pilot offering a video confession.

Then the game started, and Brady instantly validated everything Robey-Coleman said! The man who we keep hearing has “seen every coverage” and is “impossible to fool” mixed up zone and man literally on his first pass, which he underthrew to Chris Hogan, allowing (who else?) Robey-Coleman to tip the ball in the air for a crushing early interception.

The Patriots deserved to lose the game on that play alone, or at least Brady did. But the Rams’ offense spit the bit on the next possession, on the way to not showing up all game, so it didn’t matter.

The one saving grace of the Patriots throughout its period as America’s leading sports villain was that the team always played interesting Super Bowls. Until Sunday, every single one of their championship games has been a good one, and three or four (2002, 2004, 2008 and 2017 stand out) were outright classics. The only previous title game that was on the boring side was the 2005 game against the Eagles, which the Patriots characteristically won when their opponents appeared to forget the score late in the fourth quarter.

Not this year. The 2018-19 Patriots made a Super Bowl that was tied heading into the fourth quarter feel as exciting as an evening re-run of Shoe Shopping on QVC. The Patriots wet themselves a half-dozen times early on and headed into the fourth quarter with just three points on the board, forcing the whole country to keep watching out of reflexive Schadenfreude, after which the Pats didn’t even have the common decency to lose the game.

Even as the confetti fell, the players were so clearly bored, they seemed to borrow interview lines and expressions of exuberance from previous celebrations (the Brady-Edelman-Belichick tri-hug was a clear ripoff of the Brady-Belichick-Legarrette Blount bro-down after the Falcons game). It was like watching the ’27 Yankees jump for joy after winning on a passed ball against a beer league team. An America that doesn’t hate this team has no self-respect, and again, I say this as a Patriots fan.

Then there was the award celebration, which hit another surprising new low. The Patriots have been waging a fierce national unpopularity contest with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for years. Every time the league suppressed CTE research or colluded against Colin Kaepernick or suspended potsmokers while welcoming alleged domestic abusers back to the field, the Patriots would take back the lead with something like Deflategate or an unsolicited endorsement of Donald Trump.

On Sunday, when Pats fans in Atlanta viciously booed Goodell for having the temerity to congratulate Pats owner Robert Kraft for winning an 852-punting-yard contest that cratered ratings and probably set the league’s TV ad rates back 15 years, the Patriots improbably snuck back in the lead of this neck-and-neck race.

This was despite the NFL’s transparent effort to get out from under its self-inflicted Kaepernick cloud — The Root called it the “MAGA Super Bowl” — by running ads praising MLK and showing Goodell touting “community and social justice moments” in Atlanta.

On stage, Kraft grabbed the Lombardi from Goodell, turned his back, and dragged out his slower-every-year “We are all Patriots!” speech for the 10 millionth time.

If the Pats owner is at Super Bowl 54 next year wearing that same fat pink tie and pretentious white club collar (a stylistic tradition, by the way, that came from Eton College aristocrats in England wanting to visually distinguish themselves from riff-raff) — if he’s shouting “We are all Patriots!” into the Miami night — there should be rioting across the country, and none of us would blame any of you.

I wish I could tell you Sunday was the last of this dynasty. If anything, they seem to be reverting to form. Any Patriots fan will tell you the team was actually better from 2001-2005, before Brady started throwing for a million touchdowns.

Did you see how happy Belichick was after the game? Winning a Super Bowl in which his best player was probably the punter is enough to keep that man tumescent for a decade. He will take it as a personal challenge to see if he can somehow make next year’s game even more miserable for everyone.

This is one of the reasons Patriots fans love coach Bill, but we get it if you want to stab us in the face for it. That was a bad one. We know. We’re sorry.

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+11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-06 15:37
Yeah, it was a pretty lousy game. Some players on the defensive side played well, but the stars everyone expected to do well just did not. Brady was no good. He just got by.

But all of football has been winding down toward a routine and boring sport.
 
 
+3 # BKnowswhitt 2019-02-07 02:37
We were due for a Stupor Bowl. It's hard to predict that just one game will turn out entertaining. Patriots were not great this season .. then they lost their deep threat receiver .. going into playoffs they had trouble scoring . two weeks off what did they do? Absolutely murdered San Diego at home with SD coming in with 8 road wins notched on their guns .. they were behind 35 to 3 in the second quarter! Then what did they do in KC .. same deal took it to them scoring at will with Brady brilliant. That was the Super Bowl. LA QB was awful and unless he's in play action has a low rating .. Belicheck the defensive genious that he is .kept him in the pocket .. and yeah LA D' up knowing the Pats had no deep threat which made Brady look ordinary .. a credit to LA D coordinator. Two cities quite happy to see the Pats win outside of NE .. New Orleans and St Louis .. whom the new Rams owner abandoned after 20 years there .. where the first year in LA .. two years ago restaurants gave out free dinners on Sunday nights if they lost .. and they lost 12 games that year ..
 
 
+8 # MikeAF48 2019-02-06 18:58
13 points maybe a bad omen. Not much to write home about, lets just forget this one.
 
 
+2 # Caliban 2019-02-06 21:04
Already done.
 
 
+7 # EternalTruth 2019-02-07 00:16
I can’t believe I just read an article about how a football game was really boring. I’m too bored by football to find out anything about it at from season to season (I used to play, and I went to dozens of raider games in the nineties. so it’s not lack of understanding of the game) and here I am reading an article that details why a particular game is excessively boring. I only read it cuz I love Matt Taibi, but not even he could make this topic interesting.
 
 
+6 # vilstef 2019-02-07 04:50
On Monday a friend told me something he saw on facebook about the game: Remember the winning team gets an invite to the White House.

That would kill my enthusiasm dead if I were playing.
 
 
+4 # Porfiry 2019-02-07 07:35
Let's face it. It's only a football game, not the Second Coming.
 
 
+2 # dascher 2019-02-07 08:09
football is a team game. if the other team focusses on the star players, that just leaves openings for the others. Belichick (eventually) took advantage of the Rams focus on Brady and Gronk - with Edelman as the receiver who made the difference.

The game had, I believe (based on what the talking heads said - I am not a football fan), the biggest winning margin in any of their Super Bowl games. Belechick knows that the record books don't record how big a win it is - the record books just record who won. Win by 2 points or by 30 points but it is still "just a win".

Not as much fun for the fans but the bettors don't care. We know that sports betting provides the fuel that pays for the outrageous ticket prices that make the league so outrageously profitable - and keep the owners in private jets and multiple homes - actually MORE private jets and MORE multiple homes since they almost all were quite wealthy when they "invested" in their teams.
 
 
+1 # afmeyers 2019-02-07 09:17
Matt, I love your writing and pretty much always agree with you, but shouldn't you have mentioned the Patriot's AFC championship game against KC? IMO it more than made up for the Stupor Bowl, which as you point out is more often a disappointment unworthy of the hype...
 
 
+3 # Dale 2019-02-07 10:57
Apart from the many players that die early as a result of multiple concussions, there are even more serious problems with professional (and college and high school) football. As a cultural symbol football´s essence fosters the cults of competition, masculinity, and blind patriotism. Note that the game introduction was the national anthem sung by a black vocalists while the black players were viewed on camera with their hands over their hearts. Good for those black players from other teams that kneeled in protest. I dont know how true this is but I read on the internet that Brady and the Patriots owners are big Trump supporters.
 
 
+1 # palaherb@gmail.com 2019-02-07 12:15
Quite a hit on the Pats.. Some of it deserved. However, there was another team on the field, so if the major critique is "The game was boring.", then both teams made their contribution.

It's only a game! If the Pats go to the WH and do not make a political statement about WH policies, then the win was not worth it.
 
 
+2 # citygirlla 2019-02-07 15:37
Is this what boxing was like when Ali was sidelined?
 
 
+5 # chapdrum 2019-02-08 14:52
As time goes by, I find that football is a bs game. Hit the other guy as hard as you can, for your pleasure and the vicarious pleasure of the audience. Risk brain damage from successive concussions. Support the bloated military that takes advantage of conflating itself with the game.
 

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