Well, here we are again. We have national holidays in which we honor past presidents, Martin Luther King and religious holidays. And then there’s the Super Bowl, which for my money should be declared a national holiday, if for no other reason than all the hangovers that substantially deplete our nation the following Monday.
Obviously, a great match-up this year with the L.A. Rams against the New England Patriots, a repeat, if you will, of Super Bowl XXXVI back in 2001, when a rookie named Tom Brady quarterbacked the Patriots to an upset win over the St. Louis Rams, 20-17. Yep, 18 years ago and, he’s baaaack.
The quintessential question hovering over the Land of the Free this weekend is who will win Super Bowl LIII, by how much and why.
The other question that burns deep in my soul is: Why do so many people hate Tom Brady? He’s taken the Patriots to eight previous Super Bowls, winning five of them. He was a sixth-round, 199th pick in the 2000 draft and has risen to be what many consider to be the greatest quarterback of all time. He is the winningest QB of all time and at age 41 has brought the Pats back to the Big One once again.
And then there are the incidentals: He’s got movie star looks, an international model for a wife, beautiful kids, which he’s a great Dad to. Hell, he’s even got great teeth!
And so, to answer these questions, which have the entire universe on hold right now, I went to some of my local luminaries, prognosticators of renown, including one ringer from the OC for the answers.
First up, was Sheriff Erik Apperson, who responded:
“For the sake of transparency, I’m a baseball fanatic. The only reason I tune into the Super Bowl is so I can witness first hand that the pre-season for America’s Pastime is here. Go Cubs! That said, I think the Pats will come out on top. I expect the game to be close (less than a TD) and likely clouded by controversy, but when it’s over, Rams fans will attest that their ‘loyalty doesn’t hinge on winning a ring or not, because at least they’ play fair.’ Or something like that. To answer your other question, people hate Brady because he’s not relatable, refuses to lose or win quietly, lacks humility and smiles way too much.”
From there, I went to accountant and financial planner, owner of the new SeaQuake restaurant and bar and a CV of community activism that defies memorialization due to its length, Kevin Hartwick:
“The Rams are going to win by 10 — the reason is — George Mavris is a Rams fan and I never go against George Mavris.
“On Tom Brady, simple — Tom Brady wins. Tom Brady has achieved success, and there must be something wrong with that, correct? As a side note, he did let the air out of the ball.”
Hard not to go to my next prognosticator after that lead-in, Kevin. I caught up with trial attorney extraordinaire and quintessential, life-long Rams fan, George Mavris, in Atlanta to cheer on his Rams. I asked him what was Rams running back Todd Gurley’s condition and what he saw as the “keys to the game.” His responses:
“Todd’s injured. He got rolled on the Monday night game. He is not 100 percent. They have kept him on bubble wrap longer than expected due to CJ emerging and the need to swing the ax against the beanstalk on Sunday. The Rams have never lost when TGIII gets 120 yards from scrimmage.
“Aaron Donald being himself and Ndamukong Suh continuing to shed his bum label from the regular season and add to that middle push. For some reason, Suh has flipped the switch and has been playing like 2012 Suh right now. Donald will be remembered as the greatest DT ever when his career ends. Brady hates pressure from the middle while he is oblivious to edge pressure. Rams have never lost when Donald gets a sack.
“The Patriots are going to get their plays. You just have to limit the TD’s. Bottom line, however, is the spread between Patriots wins and losses have all been within 6 points or less. They die hard even when they do die, but they also don’t run away with the games.
“I don’t know how it plays out, but it sure has an interesting feel to it. This game is a ‘pickem.’ However, I like 33-year-old Bobby Fischer v. 66-year-old Karpov. McVay was born to this stuff. The bigger the stage, the cooler the action.”
From there I went to an old friend in the OC, Bill Bedsworth, also known as Mr. Justice Bedsworth when he sitting as the presiding justice on the Fourth District Court of Appeals and the holder of two Stanley Cup rings for his service as one of the Anaheim Ducks goal judges for more than a decade. Bedridden with a bad case of the flu, he toughed it out to return my call. Here’s his response:
“Patriots will win because Belichick will find a way to confuse the Rams young quarterback, Jared Goff. People hate Brady because they hate cheaters and they hate dynasties. He represents both in many people’s minds.”
Echoing Justice Bedsworth’s opinion, I caught up with former Del Norte High athletic superstar, Ron Otremba who told me:
“The Rams will win by 10. That’s just a gut feeling, but the Patriots can’t win again, the odds are against them. On Tom Brady — sports is supposed to be fair with a level playing field for all opponents. I know that Tom Brady ordered the reduced PSI in the footballs that helped the Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014-2015 NFL playoffs. I know he lied about it when confronted. He’s a cheater and a liar. What kind of example does that send out to kids who worship these guys?”
Add to that, 10-year-old Ace Davis, an elementary school student from Lexington, Kentucky, who structured his science fair project around “Deflategate,” his project entitled, “Is Tom Brady a Cheater?” The judges must have agreed after Ace “conclusively demonstrated” that Brady was, in fact, a cheat.
Upon winning the competition, Ace said if he ever came face-to-face with him, he would tell him he “needs to retire.” Ace also said he would tell him, “Give me some of your money. You don’t deserve it.”
Contra re: Tom Brady and Rams fans, I yelled out next door to neighbor, county supervisor, community activist, a man who has never let opposition deter him, Roger Gitlin. Also in Roger’s CV, being named the public address announcer for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, which he did for 14 years. Additionally, he founded the Association of Public Address Announcers:
“New England will win again. Why? Because the Patriots are hands down the best team in the NFL, superb coaching. Superb organization. Final score 31-17.
“Tom Brady? Everyone hates a continuous winner. Tom Brady is a winner. I like Tom Brady. He’s humble yet talented beyond comprehension. He’s not a braggart. He’s a gentleman. I predict he will retire after his Super Bowl victory on Sunday.”
From there, I went to Brian Ferguson, a patriarch of our local Grange, supporter of innumerable youth programs in Del Norte County and Niners fan:
“New England will win…by 10 points…because of experience. Brady himself has been there eight times before.They hate Brady because he’s a winner.”
Also, local Niners fan, Jean Robson, weighed in:
“The Patriots most likely, they seem to be able to win in the last five minutes. I really would like the Rams since we are Californians, but the Patriots probably by one touchdown. On Tom Brady, he seems to get it done, but really hope this is his last year — I can’t take much more of him. I am going to have my book close by, so if this is boring, I can read.”
And last, Baltimore Orioles fan and never-ending fighter for good health care for our county, healthcare district board member and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Greg Duncan. Ever the one to look for a compromise, Greg offered this as a way for cooler heads to prevail and have a grin at the annual spectacle:
“A friend of mine has two tickets for the 2019 Super Bowl, 50-yard line seats. He paid $2,500 each but didn’t realize last year when he bought them, it was going to be on the same day as his wedding. If you are interested, he is looking for someone to take his place…It’s at St. Michaels church, at 3 p.m. The bride’s name is Sheila, she’s 5’4”, about 115 lbs., has a great job and a she’s a great cook, too. She’ll be the one in the white dress.”
So there you go, sports fans. Oh, and by the way, I’ll weigh in on my favorite commercial right here — anything with The Dude, (aka Jeffrey Lebowski) in it has gotta be aces (apologies, Ace). Hopefully, it won’t have anything to do with selling pre-owned rugs.
May you all abide.
Jon Alexander lives in Crescent City.