Acceptance. The art of coming to the realization that the past is unchangeable. In rare cases, this also applies to the future. For about three months, it applied to the New England Patriots.
They were going to win every game ahead of them, something that hadn't been accomplished since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and there was certainly nothing we the fans could do about it. More pressing, there was nothing any modern NFL team could do about it. Acceptance.
It was written in the stars. It was written between the lines in just about every Super Bowl XLII report filed by journalists. The New York Giants were a subplot, a nice story, that sadly had to end on February 3, 2008.
I accepted all of this. In fact, so much time was invested in accepting a Patriots dynasty, I had evolved beyond just looking forward to it. I was actually disappointed when the Patriots' 19-0 season didn't occur.
The moments that prevented it are frozen in memory. Eli Manning's improbable escape. David Tyree's did-that-just-happen reception. Plaxico Burress' basket catch in the end zone 59½ minutes into the game. Tom Brady's last-ditch 4th-and-20 effort. The scoreboard reading New York 17, New England 14, putting a nonzero value in the Patriots' loss column for the first time in 378 days.
The immortal 19-0 season won't happen. And yet, like Professor Henry Higgins, I've grown accustomed to the idea. Accustomed to the accomplishment. Accustomed to the moment.
Since it didn't materialize, another period of acceptance should be in order. The NFL champion is not an impressive 19-0 or even 18-1, but a head-scratching 14-6. The team that earlier in the season lost by 24 points at home to the Minnesota Vikings boxed the NFL's then-best team on the nose to steal the shiny trophy.
Except for sports fans who, as children, wallowed in the last quartile of being picked in dodgeball, a dynasty requires months of acceptance, but parity requires minutes of realization, followed by a lifetime of awe.
In short, that was a goddamn amazing Super Bowl.Powered by Sidelines