For one final time until September, Sunday is significant. Football at its highest level is played, for some reason, on the chilly, windswept planes of The Big Apple and at the end of the day, someone will be crowned the best. We're stuck in a weird position, guys. While the number of teams that have never won a Super Bowl is larger than I expected (surprisingly, 13 teams have never hoisted the Lombardi), it still feels like a club that is all too exclusive and all too crappy to be a part of. We support a team that has never gotten a ring, has never been the media darling, has never overcome the odds, has never been "gritty" enough, has never "wanted it more than the other guys", all of those cliches and buzzwords and "intangibles!" that people just can't help attaching to the NFL's sick puppies. That means that whenever we discuss the best teams we've ever rooted for that the conversation will inevitably include a resigned "Yeah but...". Our Super Bowl Sunday is one of excitement for all the wrong reasons. We're hyped to watch the biggest game of the year, but it's hollow, we're really just looking forward to having a few too many drinks with our friends and eating absurdly loaded potato skins and the wingiest of wings and blowing off work/class the next day because "it's the Super Bowl, bro." We're looking forward to seeing the Clydesdales make friends with a puppy, we're looking forward to not watching the half time show, we're looking forward to making this into not just an event, we're looking forward to making this into an ordeal. The football game might be pretty cool, too.
As Titans fans, our situation is pretty uniquely awful, our Super Bowl failure is probably only eclipsed by the Bills and their run of four straight losses to the NFC East in the early 90's. I mean, one yard short? Really? The Vikings had their "wide left" to derail a magical season with a team that boasted at least three slam dunk Hall of Famers, the Falcons beat the brakes off of everyone in the Georgia Dome in 98 only to see their monstrous turnover margin of +20 fall short against John Elway and the Broncos. Hell some teams have never even been to the Big One to begin with. Two of those teams reside in our division, and while I remained convinced that Houston was gearing up for a big time run this year, they quietly decided to put together an all-time string of futility that should land them among the worst teams in NFL history, if not at least one of the most under-achieving teams ever. Seriously, I don't care that Matt Schaub was playing quarterback, you cannot tell me that he's a 2-14 player. Case Keenum might be, but whatever witchcraft screwed the Texans this year more or less slammed their window shut in my opinion. Football is weird, let's take a minute to recognize just how weird it is and bask in it because win or lose, we live for this kind of stuff and I still don't quite know why.
Of course, now that I've given up on them ever being good again, it will just be more fitting next year when they rip off 11 wins in a row, finish the season 14-2, and crush San Francisco in the Super Bowl because that's what the life of a fan whose team has never won jack is like. We're never right unless it concerns how bad we have it. We're perennially losers, even when we're good, we're bad. I mean hell, we lost to a team that lost 14 games in a row. 14 games! We lost to the Jaguars last year. The Jaguars! We're only here to be disappointed, that is until we're not. Until one day that special group of players refuses to lose and makes all of that suffering worth it. Until you can rip off your paper bags and burn your membership card to the lousiest club in sports and throw a middle finger up to the world because they can't hurt you anymore. We're all just waiting for the day where we can win the Super Bowl just so the next year, when we inevitably miss the playoffs because reasons, we can blow it off because shove it, we've got a ring and we're on top and no one can take that from us for another few weeks.
But as far as tonight goes, pardon my French but I don't really give a damn. It will be cool to see Peyton Manning win and basically replace the legacy of his younger brother and arch-rival with dad jokes and Papa Johns commercials. It will be equally as cool to see the city of Seattle finally get the Skittles they deserve with an emerald and sapphire ring that'll make Flavor Flav blush. Man oh man I can't wait to feel so comfortably indifferent to everything that when the Lombardi is hoisted by an old rich white dude that my pulse remains at resting pace and I have absolutely zero vestigial reflexes that create piloerections all over my arms. I'm basically Kanye West to these teams. I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but until my team wins the Super Bowl, I'm not going to catch feelings over anything you do or say during or after the game. Yeah I may have participated in a little bit of buffoonery last year after the Ravens won and my city was both figuratively and literally ablaze with emotion, and yeah I might have skipped school to go to the parade and mess around on the field, but the electricity (and possibly large bag of cocaine) that rain through the crowd that day didn't reach me. It didn't instill any kind of primal emotion that being the best at something should. I was sitting there, in the words of Brad Pitt, calm as Hindu cows.
When we finally get our due and arrive as classic underdogs, under-appreciated, underrated, and underwhelmed by the constant trail of broken enemies we leave behind us, I think I'll probably recall to memory the words of Samwise Gamgee.
By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.
And of course, the question that we all have, including Mr. Frodo, is what in God's name could it be that they were holding onto? Do really believe that after all of turmoil we've been through with this journey that our number will ever be called? Well I'll tell you what they were holding onto:
That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fightin' for.
Keep a clear head, soldier on, and be ready, because we and our non-Super Bowl winning brethren have so much good to fight for.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are fans of a team that has never won the Super Bowl, and that's okay. We are fans of a team that has never won the Super Bowl, and we don't have to care about what happens tonight. We are fans of a team that has never won the Super Bowl, and when that day finally comes and we cast off our chains, it's going to be fucking awesome.