Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Sickness

Super Bowl Sunday is always a sad day for me. It’s the day the NFL goes into hibernation for the spring and summer. It’s the day a team hoists the Lombardi Trophy and gets to call themselves champions. In my thirty years, that team has never been my team. In fact, my team has never even been to the Super Bowl in my lifetime. Every year I walk away from the game sad that the season is over and indifferent to the outcome. It would seem that this year would be no different, but it was.

This was it. This was finally the year that my team was going to get to the big game. I watched the Colts go 13-0 (thanks to my girlfriend I got to witness win #12 live) and believed that this was finally the year that all the pieces had fallen into place. Instead, I watched them choke again in the playoffs. I was heartbroken. For days afterwards, I could not talk about it or even think about it rationally. I wondered if Manning and Dungy would ever win a championship. Will their legacy be that they can’t win the big one?

Weeks passed and my anger and sadness subsided. Suddenly, Super Bowl Sunday was upon me. I had made my plans to go to a Super Bowl party. Usually, I would look forward to hanging with friends and having a few laughs during the game. This time as the game crept closer I wanted to be a part of it less and less. Every little thing annoyed me. I saw a friend with a Steelers shirt. I wanted to punch her. I watched an interview with Mike Holmgren’s wife who was on a volunteer mission in Africa. I wanted to punch her. I saw a shot of Ford Field with the Steelers and Seahawks logos hanging outside. I wanted to punch them. People said to me, “You seem grumpy. Is everything okay?” I would make up some excuse about being tired or not feeling well. I knew that I couldn’t tell them that I was still heartbroken about the Colts. They wouldn’t understand. They would think I was a sore loser.

I’m not a sore loser. I’ve accepted the defeat. The Colts were beaten by the better team that day. They choked. They had their shot and they blew it. Accepting the defeat does not make the pain go away. The feeling I got when I heard the words “Super Bowl” was the same feeling you get when you have to say, “We broke up” to a friend after you just got dumped. The acceptance of it makes it worse. Seeing another AFC team in the Super Bowl was like seeing your ex-girlfriend dating another – better – guy two weeks after she dumped you. You say you’re happy for her, but you’re not. You’re angry because it should be you, not him, going to see Brokeback Mountain with her. Instead, you’re stuck in the row behind them watching them make out the whole time. That’s what it felt like watching the Super Bowl.

Then I started thinking. What if that was it? What if that was the best shot the Colts will ever get? Maybe Manning goes down with an injury. The linemen retire or get hurt. Receivers retire. We can’t replace James. This disappointing season may be as good as it gets. People tell you that there is always next year. It’s like hearing that there are more fish in the sea. But what if there isn’t? What if that was the one chance? For the rest of your life, you only go out with girls your mom sets you up with. Sure, you’ll be okay but you may never find that true love. That’s something that only happens when everything is just right, and you blew it.

That’s why I couldn’t explain to anyone why I was in a bad mood.

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