If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I’ve spent nearly 30 years working in sports instead of the “real world”, well…I’d never have to work at all. This year’s Super Bowl serves as the perfect reminder of why we love our fun and games.
Sports is the ultimate reality show.
Watching the first half of the Patriots and Falcons left me numb. Growing up outside of Boston, I am a huge Patriots fan, from back in the days when they were the league’s laughing stock.
That was then, and this was now.
I was so sure the Patriots would win this game without much trouble. I had my Super Bowl t-shirt from “our” first title, the biggest upset ever, against The Greatest Show on Turf Rams. What could go wrong? NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS did I think they would fall behind 21-3! This was such a stunner, that even Lady Gaga flying in from outer space could distract me. In a “Why not? Nothing else is working” moment, I changed to my Patriots Super Bowl 51 t-shirt. Not like it would matter.
The game stunk, the commercials stunk, and my wife was laughing at me…repeatedly. It wasn’t worth the aggravation. She decided to go upstairs to let me “suffer with my team” by myself.
Midway through the third quarter, with Gaga apparently returning to whatever planet she came from, it was 28-3. By then, I was checking my Directv guide to see what else was on. But that’s when Tom Brady became..Tom Brady. THE GREATEST QUARTERBACK EVER dinked, he dunked, and on a 3rd and 8, he ran for 15 yards. TB12 capped it off with a touchdown to (formerly) unknown running back James White. Even with their first sign of life, it was still 28-9. There’s no way the Falcons could blow this.
Even after a field goal a few minutes later, the Pats were still down 16 points. They’d have to not only score two touchdowns, but also convert two two-point conversions, just to tie the game. Oh, and there were less than 10 minutes to play. New England was breathing, but barely.
About a minute later, Donta Hightower, delivering a blow for all of New England – who knew that our Tommy was the real MVP, not Matt Ryan. The Falcons qb fumbled, and now we were back in business.
Five plays later, Brady hit Danny Amendola for the score, it was 28-18. A two-point conversion wasn’t a question; it was the only choice they had. That’s when THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA, aka THE BEST COACH OF ALL-TIME pulled out his bag of tricks for a direct snap to White, and somehow, we had a one score game.
It was about this time I realized I hadn’t moved from my spot on the couch. My initial thought was to rush upstairs to let my wife know what was happening, but somehow we had come back, I wasn’t going to mess with karma. I stayed planted, in position. My refusal to move was making a difference!
I think it was at about this point that the Falcons learned an important lesson – it’s hard to play football with your hands around your throat. They punted, and gave Brady the ball with 3:30 left on his own 9-yard line. Joe Buck mentioned that New England’s longest touchdown drive of the season was 91 yards. Hmmmmm.
My heart was racing, yet somehow, I don’t think Brady’s ever skipped a beat. This was his time. Time to shut up all the critics. Time to tell Commissioner Roger Goodell what he could do with his deflated footballs.
I was still nervous. They needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Last year, they were in a similar situation in the AFC Championship game vs. Denver. They got the 6, but Tom threw a poor pass, and the two-pointer failed. The good news was that I still hadn’t moved a muscle.
When Julian Edelman made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history, it was like the ghost of David Tyree was finally exorcised. Now it was a matter of time. With :57 seconds to go, White rammed it in from the one, and Tommy (that’s what we New Englanders call him) hit Amendola for two, and we were tied!
The Falcons should have just packed up at that point. There was no way they were tying the game (they didn’t), and when they lost the coin toss to start overtime, we all knew what was going to happen.
By now, my bladder was begging for a pit stop, but that would involve me moving. I decided if the Patriots got a field goal, or didn’t score, I would take a bathroom break. But not until then.
Thankfully, it took less than four minutes, but Tommy marched them down the field, my new favorite running back, White, bulled it in, and the Patriots were champions again! And, not insignificantly, I could run to the bathroom!
Now I’m a fairly intelligent guy – went to college, have done well professionally – and rationally, logically, my not moving for more than an hour probably didn’t have much to do with our latest championship. But maybe it did. It’s that uncertainty that makes sports so great. We live and die with every game – until next season, when it all starts again.
That’s why I love working in sports.
Mike Isenberg heads up the sports department at MediaStars. Visit their website at mediastars.tv. You can follow Mike at @TV_Agent_Mike.