— Sir Alex Ferguson
And no, I’m not talking about the National Football League–even though today is Super Bowl Sunday. I’ll get to that in a second. But did anybody see that Southampton/Everton game this morning? I started this entry about fifteen different times, but none of them could capture the agony of watching Saints blow yet another game right at the death and mire themselves even deeper in the relegation battle. They dominated virtually the entire length of the game, got two well-taken goals from Crouch and Camara, had Everton on the ropes…and in the final seconds Marcus Bent scored the equalizing goal. I’ve never been involved in a relegation battle before–and if you listen to Tim Jebb, he’ll insist I’m not involved in one this year either–but I feel as though the stars are starting to allign against Southampton: injuries to key players (losing Michael Svensson for the season was huge, not to mention injuries to Phillips, Niemi and Beattie when he was still with the team), failing to salt games away (this is the third time a Southampton opponent has equalized in the last seconds), no wins on the road…just feels as though this is how a team plays soccer when it’s on its way down. I still have faith: Saints’ form has improved as of late and they’re still only three points behind Crystal Palace, but it’s starting to feel as though it could be all in vain.
Anyway: so the Super Bowl is today. In celebration of this most obvious of footballing outcomes I’ve been putting almost no effort into following the pre-game build-up, and this afternoon, instead of gorging myself in front of FOX’s pre-game show (which started at 10am, incidentally), I’m going to the Raptors/Mavericks game at the ACC. (I had intended on wearing my Saints kit–but alas, my cause for celebration was cruelly wrenched from me.) I dunno–I just haven’t been feeling this year’s game, y’know? Like sometimes, the Super Bowl is this major deal…and this year, it all feels anti-climactic. The Vikings’ elimination hasn’t helped, of course–but neither has the fact that this feels like the most inevitable Super Bowl outcome in, like, ten years. Adam has been calling the Patriots to steamroll to a Super Bowl since they were beaten by the Steelers back in October. It’s taken me a bit longer to come around, but I’m starting to feel as though the Patriots aren’t just going to win: they’re going to steamroll. I have no rational basis for making these comments…well, okay, I do, but I’m not really in the mood to write them down (which makes me a cop-out, and I readily concede that point). Instead, I’m just going to offer two pieces of evidence, and then make a call. The evidence is as follows. Bill Belichek is 9-1 as a playoff coach. Tom Brady is undefeated as a playoff starter. Somewhere, somehow, we’ve gotta start giving the Patriots respect. New England 31, Philadelphia 20
(P.S.: I apologize for this post–a combination of no sleep, post-Southampton hangover and a general apathy for this year’s Super Bowl have conspired against me. I’ll do better next time.)