Like most Americans, I love Super Bowl Sunday. It's a national holiday. Except for Thanksgiving, more food is consumed today than on any other day of the year. The earliest memory I have of the Big Game is from thirty-six years ago. The Cowboys tight-end drops a pass from Roger Staubach in the end zone, giving the Steelers the victory in Super Bowl XIII. I remember my dad jumping up and down in triumph. "Wait a minute," I said. "You're a Giants fan, Pop! Why do you give a shit?" (I realize I'm putting curse words in a child's mouth, but I also grew up with an older brother who told the neighbor's dad "Go fuck yourself!" when asked what our dad would say if told we were cursing in the street.) "That's why I care!" Pop replied. My dad was big to me then. Still is. Had plenty of tattoos. Still does. I figured I'd better agree with him. I still do. I hate the Patriots now, but the idea is the same. You cheer against your favorite team's biggest rival. No matter who they play. You must despise them! We're Americans. We compete! We root against our enemies with every ounce of our souls. I'm a Jets fan. Pathetic, I know. The only thing I can brag about is that if it weren't for Joe Namath, there wouldn't be a Super Bowl Sunday. But forty-six years later, no one really gives a shit about Broadway Joe. Or about the Jets, for that matter. But I'm rooting for the Seahawks today (of course).
I haven't told you why I love the Super Bowl yet. It's for the same reason I love Christmas and every other holiday. It brings families and friends together. OK, this year's a bust for me. I don't have anyone to watch it with. My wife's on a cruise to the Bahamas, my daughter wants to play football (not watch it), and my son hates New England like I do (see the pattern?). Fine. I get it. I'll get over it. I don't want to watch that fucking team again anyhow. (The commercials do show some promise, however - those Doritos sneak previews online are hilarious! And there's Katy Perry, of course.)
For me, life would be nothing without Joe Montana (downs the Bengals with forty seconds to go), Marcus Allen (bulldozes the Redskins defense), Bradshaw to Stallworth, Favre and Elway scramble all over the field, Da Bears!, Scott Norwood kicks wide right (holy fuck!), David Tyree's miracle catch buries the Great Satan's perfect season (second greatest moment in New York sports history behind Billy Buckner letting a certain ground ball pass through his legs). Even if I hated some of those guys, I love them all. Why? Because for better or worse, they played and I watched with the people I love. Even with my mom, who complained on Sundays about how much she hated football yet stuffed us with trays of lasagna every Super Bowl and screamed at the TV alongside the rest.
Three years ago, my dad visited for Super Bowl weekend. Together, we watched Eli and the Giants rally to beat the Patriots for the second time. After the game, I collapsed in my wife's arms, bawling as hard as I did when each of our children was born. "Are you that happy the Giants won?" she asked. "No," I sobbed. "I'm just happy I got to watch the game with my dad."