Bowl, poll

Sunday, Tuesday sure to be super

On football and politics

January 29, 2008

PHOENIX — PHOENIX-- --Once again, we meet at the intersection of sports and politics, and once again I'm going to ignore the glaring "Don't Walk" sign and cross right over into my first Super Bowl stream of consciousness.

If you haven't already noticed, Hillary Clinton's New York Giants are down here in John McCain's backyard to play Mitt Romney's New England Patriots, and the latest ESPN poll shows that Hillary's team is preferred by a solid majority of America's football fans.

The New York Post went so far as to declare the Giants "America's Team" in Sunday's editions, and if you can't believe the New York Post, well, I think we've got a serious crisis of national confidence on our hands at a critical time in our country's history.

Still, you have to wonder how you can be "America's Team," when the other team is called the Patriots, unless you somehow equate Bill Belichick's Spygate scandal with some of the more onerous provisions of the Patriot Act.

The fact that the majority of people outside of New York are rooting for the Giants (and it is a fact because somebody did an Internet poll) is much more a reflection on the overbearing nature of the Patriots than it is some reaffirmation of New York as the center of the sports universe.

C'mon, how else do you explain anyone outside of the Tony Soprano suburbs rooting for Tom Coughlin and Michael Strahan to win anything? This team is about as lovable as the Steinbrenner family.

The only reason the Giants have become such darlings all of a sudden is because of this country's long love affair with the underdog. We always go with the scrappy team that seemingly doesn't have a chance, though somehow that never applied to the Dennis Kucinich campaign.

(OK, this is the point where a lot of people write in and complain that they go to the sports page to get away from the real world, but that just isn't possible when Super Sunday and Super Tuesday are in the same week. I heard somewhere there's even going to be a Tostitos Best Damn Super Tuesday Pre-game Show on Fox, though I can't find it in any of the listings.)

I think we're also a little uncomfortable with the whole concept of perfection, particularly when it is achieved by a team who was disciplined early in the season for cheating, but maybe I'm just getting preachy.

The Patriots are a great, great team and -- with a win -- could be considered the greatest in NFL history, though only if you put an exaggerated emphasis on winning every game and setting just about every significant scoring record along the way.

And keep in mind that if they beat the upstart Giants, we won't have to listen to any more media reports of the '72 Miami Dolphins cracking open champagne every time a team that threatens their status as the modern NFL's only undefeated team loses for the first time.

If the Patriots somehow lose, just be grateful the Florida primary will already be over, because the last thing we want to see this time around is a bunch of tipsy old Dolphins stumbling into their polling places and accidentally voting for Pat Buchanan.

Going 19-0 would be a stunning achievement during a salary-cap era in which anybody (including the current Dolphins) can beat anybody (including the current Ravens) any time. New England sports fans have every reason to be on cloud nine, especially when you also factor in the Red Sox's winning the World Series and the Celtics' amazing renaissance.

Think of all the sports cliches that regional domination has made available to Romney, who used to be governor of Massachusetts. That said, a Giants upset might give a boost to Clinton and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, though Rudy has turned into such a long shot that Sean Astin has signed to play him if they make a movie about his campaign.

One way or another, over a 72-hour period next week, we'll crown a new NFL champion and, most likely, pick the presidential nominees for the two major political parties.

That's just super.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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