"Ow! No teeth, Sports Illustrated!"
As often as I find parallels between sports and politics, even I'm surprised by how perfect the analogies are flowing this week. Between the recent Nevada ballot results and Sunday's NFC Championship Game, I may have to toss aside my distaste for dynasties (Clinton, Manning) in the interest of going against much greater foes (Republicans, Patriots).
For now, Hillary Clinton's nomination is still far from a given. In fact, Barack Obama still edges her in official delegates. But there's no question now who's going to Super Bowl XLII. And, as usual, not a single team I preferred won throughout the entire playoffs. I was really counting on Brett Favre to take on my current Least Favorite Person In The World Not In The White House, Tom Brady. Alas, us Patri-Haters now have to hope Eli Manning will rise up to be the 2008 equivalent of 2003 Tom Brady.
Brady and the New England Patriots are hardly on par with Osama bin Laden or George W. Bush, but in their own way they fill the same role: they are the overpowering tyrants of the National Football League, liked by few outside their immediate clique, perfect despite a system designed to prevent such one-sided concentration of power. In that sense, they're the Wal-Mart of the NFL, and every other team is Pop's General Store. But even in an age where everything seems destined to fall only as the Powers That Be allow it, we should still be able to watch a football game with some degree of suspense.
Enter Tom Brady. He was great back in his Ram-slaughtering, SNL-and-Family Guy days. But this year's 18-0 and the "Path to Perfection" crap is a bit much. I can't trust anyone who never loses. Everyone needs some kind of balance in their lives. Call it karma. I'm already dry enough in that department, being that everything seems to be out of balance. These days, it seems like you're either always a winner or always a loser. And randomly, at that.
What is it about the Patriots that makes them so special? Their talent? It's great, but so are lots of other teams' nuclei. Their alleged cheating ways? They're probably not alone. Is it their ability to buy the best players? The New Orleans Saints have the highest payroll in the league. So what is it, exactly? No one really knows. And that's perhaps the most depressing reminder that this NFL season has been about life: merit matters, but luck and other uncontrollable factors often matter more.
Which is why, come Super Bowl Sunday, I hope karma does a total 180 and causes the New York Giants' Michael Strahan, through pure merit, to uncontrollably grab Tom Brady by the balls for four quarters. Then all will be right with the world. For one day, anyway.