I cannot say that I had a specific rooting interest in this year's Super Bowl. The reason my Denver Broncos weren't the champions last year, the Seattle Seahawks, were pitted against the team that seems to have taken up near permanent residence at the game, the New England Patriots. Still, I found myself caught up in the contest, since it was quite a different experience this year. This game came down to the last few seconds. Last year, it was pretty much over in the first few seconds. I spent the next few hours reckoning with how to approach this idea of being second place. No shame in losing, if you tried your best. That was the question, last year: was it the best?
This year, we saw two heavyweights slugging it out for four quarters. Each time one team would take the advantage, the other would swoop in and make a play to level things out again. It is a testament to the players and coaches of both teams that this year's Super Bowl was more interesting than the commercials that surrounded it.
When it was all over, the debate raged around the room: Would it be better to know that the world championship was just not going to happen that day because a superior foe bested you in every phase of the game, or to come within three feet of winning the Lombardi Trophy, just to have some silly mistake be your undoing in the last twenty seconds of the game? Slide down a fifty foot razor blade in to a bucket of rubbing alcohol or eat a bucket of boogers? So many choices, so little time.
As I mentioned at the outset, I have no particular love for either one of these teams, and if there was a way for them to wail away at one another for sixty minutes and call the whole bloody mess a draw, that wouldn't have been a bad deal for me. Except I wanted to see someone win.
I found myself pulling for whichever team fell behind. I wanted to see the last play of the game decide the outcome. That's just about what I got. Unfortunately, the last few seconds devolved into the brawl that I was loosely describing earlier, as tempers and energies began to fail. The distance between first and second place in the National Football League this year was a yard. Thirty-six inches. Had another decision been made on the Seattle sideline, all those Patriots World Champs shirts would have to be boxed up and sent to the Third World. That's a lot farther away than three feet. Maybe that's the true distance between first and second place: Where your T-shirts land.