It has been widely reported that the National Football League is in a free-fall. Backlash from kneeling players, concussion concerns and a fairly warmer than average fall have taken people to do other things with their Sunday afternoons. Through the first seven weeks of the NFL season, television ratings were down 5 percent. There was even some serious conversation that maybe Commissioner Roger Goodell’s days were numbered as the head honcho of the league.
Perhaps given the league’s free-fall, we could have no better big game match up than the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, before I am labeled a hater, please understand, I have absolutely nothing against either team. Of course, neither team is the Arizona Cardinals, but that is beside the point. We have an upstart team of young players, in the Eagles, against the Goliath of the league, the Patriots.
The Philadelphia Eagles come into the game never having won the big prize; they last played in the season finale in 2005. The New England Patriots, on the other hand, are making a record 10th appearance in the game. If they win, they would be tied with the Steelers for the most victories in the contest at six. Perhaps even more remarkable is that the Patriots are playing in their eighth big game in in the past 16 years. Think about it, at least every other year the season closes out with the New England Patriots playing. Goodness, there are teams that have never made it to the final game and here are the Patriots, going yet again.
And let’s be honest, wouldn’t a Jacksonville Jaguars/Minnesota Vikings match-up been exciting? The Jaguars have one of the best defensive units in the league and nearly knocked off the Patriots. The Vikings were looking to be the very first team to actually have the opportunity to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy on their home field. On top of that, there is an unbelievably scary number of Minnesota Vikings fans around these parts. I am sad that for those fans that the Vikings won’t be around to play another week.
Perhaps that is why I seem to be completely underwhelmed by this year’s contest. Yes, we had the same Patriots last year, but they were going against another up and coming team, the Atlanta Falcons. And if you remember that game, the Falcons knocked the champs to the mat a couple times. And then miracle of miracles, the Patriots pulled out a victory in overtime.
Oh, and let us not forget that game back in 2015 where the Patriots played the Seahawks. The Seahawks were making a goal line push with just seconds on the clock that came after an improbable catch. Everything was trending for the Seahawks until an ill-advised pass with intercepted.
No doubt, the Patriots are a good team. You don’t make it to championship game eight times in 16 years without showing some ability to win the game. Furthermore, the team does an excellent job of re-stocking their roster with league castoffs to create a team of misfit pieces that always fights for a championship. Even star quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t projected to do much after his days with “That Team Up North.“
As we get ready for Sunday’s game, we are going to be talking around the cafeteria or the water cooler about the players and who we believe will win. We will talk about Tom Brady and his “aw shucks, I just throw the football” lackadaisical attitude. We will see Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick and his press conferences where he evades each question with his blunt deadpan delivery. If we are lucky, we might actually know some of the players for the Philadelphia Eagles.
But of course, the bitterest part of the game is that afterwards, the season is over. It seems like each football season just goes by quicker and quicker. It was just four months ago, we were out in shorts and t-shirts enjoying those last sun-soaked days welcoming the football season with open arms. And here we are, bundled up and freezing; waiting and longing for the longer days and warmer weather of spring and summer.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.