Narratives drive me insane. Justin Verlander, in my opinion, won the 2011 AL MVP simply because of a narrative that was a creation of the mass media.* Narratives are created by those who need something to write, either to kill space or to gain viewership. They are ususally false, overhyped, and predictable.
*Seriously, the dude had a great season, but it was by no means legendary. If any pitcher should have won the MVP, it was late ’90’s-early ’00’s Pedro. Since he didn’t, Verlander – by NO means – should have.
The Super Bowl features the “best” two teams from the National Football League, America’s most popular sports league. There are two weeks in between Championship Sunday and Super Sunday. This creates a huge magnification of the event and the need for major news outlets to fill serious space. This year’s fillers are typically uncreative and very annoying, including, but not limited to:
1. Where does Tom Brady rank among all-time QB’s with a win?
2. Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach in NFL history with a win?
3. Is Eli Manning elite?
4. What can we force Antrel Rolle to say today?*
*A midget? Seriously?
These are few among many, many more. By now, we are all tired of these arguments and debates. We’ve all heard this debate, and we all know on which side certain writers/analysts stand. Thus, the MSM – mainstream media – has come up with a narrative that is
fresh just as boring;
5. That revenge will play a huge role in determining the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI.
Of course, the Giants ended the Patriots perfect season four years ago. We know that it was a David and Goliath story and that the Giants pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the NFL. Because of this, the Patriots are angry and will beat the team that spoiled the dream.
This has already gotten on my nerves. Don’t believe how overhyped this is? Look at this Google search of “Revenge in Super Bowl.” However, it was this article in the Boston Herald that really struck the wrong chord for me this morning. In it, Karen Guregian quotes several players that remain on the current Pats team that were there for the loss in 2007-2008. The article implies that the Patriots will be more motivated to beat the Giants than they would have been the 49ers.
This is not only a ludicrous notion, but a misguided one. There are only seven players- and only six of them are active- left from the 18-1 team. The list includes Tom Brady, Matt Light, Wes Welker, and Vince Wilfork, who are all major players on this edition of the Patriots. They are not, however, used in the same light. Wes Welker is no longer the focal point of the Patriots offense, Rob Gronkowski is. Tom Brady is no longer as dominant as he was in 2007. Wilfork is now the most consistent part of the defense.
The team is much different and is based around players who were not even in the NFL in 2007. Belichick will not attempt to stir up anger in his players over Super Bowl XLII because, for 47 members of the New England Patriots, it will not resonate. They weren’t there. They can never understand what the Patriots felt on the night of February 3, 2008 and they will never feel the bitterness that those Patriots still feel.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have gained a reputation for being more prepared than any coach/quarterback tandem in the league. They’re supposedly tireless in their effort to win, and that effort seems to translate onto the field- they win, and they win a lot. To my eyes, they seem to pride themselves on that reputation. Does it really make sense to assume that they would prepare less for the Super Bowl if they had a perfect season four years ago?
I’ve never bought the fact that players need more motivation to prepare for the Super Bowl. This is the Super Bowl. The eyes of America and the world abroad will be upon these two teams. If you’re an athlete, what more motivation could you possibly need than to be playing on the greatest stage in American sports?
Do the Patriots who remain want revenge? I can only imagine so. Will that desire factor into the game? I don’t believe that it will. There aren’t enough players left on either side for that game to really matter to the players. To many fans, it will matter and will always matter. Many fans err when they believe that players are concerned with the same things that they, as a fan, are.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, it will be because they outplayed the New York Football Giants, not because of some misguided theory of revenge. If they lose the Super Bowl, it will be because they got outplayed.
It’s the Super Bowl. If players need to look for more motivation to win, then may God help them deal with the agony of the defeat that will surely follow.