As one headline recently put it, Super Bowl LII presents New York football fans with a “pick your poison” scenario.
The New England Patriots meeting the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl leaves New Yorkers without an especially desirable victor. As the Eagles are the Giants’ divisional rival, and the Patriots are the equivalent for the Jets, residents of the Empire State’s biggest city are theoretically without a natural rooting interest.
New York media has reflected this in some of the Super Bowl LII coverage.
“I love to hate both. They’re like math homework and science homework, the flu and pneumonia,” a New Yorker told the city’s local CBS affiliate when asked about the Eagles-Patriots matchup. In a piece of New York’s Metro, columnist Joe Pantorno identified the Patriots with a classic Yankees moniker (the “Evil Empire”) while simultaneously explaining that New England was still a more worthy rooting choice than the Eagles.
The New York Post’s Mike Vacarro put it even more bluntly, affixing his byline to a column titled, “Have we ever seen anything like this hellhole of a Super Bowl?“
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) January 22, 2018
The most prominent New York piece of media to decry the reality of New England vs. Philadelphia was Frank Bruni’s Times op-ed titled, “The Existential Hell of This Year’s Super Bowl.”
Charging that the Patriots are the team of President Trump, Bruni offered this particular passage:
The Patriots perfectly embody our income-inequality era and the tax reform that President Trump recently signed. Their good fortune begets more good fortune. They shamelessly hoard glory. And there’s frequently a whiff of cheating in their success.
And in regards to the Eagles, he was a equally unforgiving:
Please forgive the mixed bestial metaphor, but these Eagles aren’t cuddly underdogs. They have fans so famously obnoxious that after Sunday’s rout, some of them threw beer cans at a Vikings team bus as it pulled away from the stadium. Sore winning: I wonder which of our amazing leaders taught them that.
The column received widespread attention, and was promptly picked apart on Boston sports talk radio.
Letters to the editor were run on Tuesday by the Times in direct response to Bruni. One refuted the Trump comparison:
The Patriots are no symbol of income inequality. They play in a salary cap environment. Every team in the N.F.L. passed on multiple opportunities to draft Tom Brady before the Patriots snagged him in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. He went on to become the most accomplished quarterback of all time. Brady also restructured his contract so there would be more to spend on other players.
You can envy and resent the Patriots’ success, but you cannot equate them with the current administration in Washington.
One of the worst aspects of the Super Bowl for Giants and Jets fans is the inescapable fact that both teams struggled in the 2017 season. The Jets extended a playoff drought to seven straight years, while the Giants finished with a franchise worst 13 losses. As the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers put it, the Jets and Giants were “eliminated from the playoffs before the kids went trick-or-treating the end of October.”
Ultimately, New York fans – specifically Giants fans – may heed the advice of Tom Brady himself, as the News noted.
“They made a few of our Super Bowls nightmares,” Brady said on WEEI in reaction to New York sentiment. “So the people in New York, they shouldn’t worry about that, especially Giants fans.”