As a journalist, I’m rooting for a good Super Bowl that’s decided by the players, not the game or replay officials.
But as a fan, I’ve got to go with my hometown team.
Joe Bailey has an impassioned column about why you should be rooting for the L.A. Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
I’d like you to join me in rooting for the New England Patriots to win one more Super Bowl before age finally catches up with Tom Brady.
I realize that around here I’m in the minority (although there is one other Lee Central Coast Newspapers employee — who has requested anonymity — who is secretly pulling for the Pats).
Most Californians, indeed most people outside of New England (well, most of New England — western Connecticut is N.Y. Giants territory), are either rooting for the Rams to win or the Patriots to lose.
But then again, I was born and raised in Massachusetts so I’m sticking with my home team.
Now, I can’t say that I’m a lifelong Pats fan but that’s only because I am older than the Patriots — they began play in the old AFL in 1960 when I was 11 years old, but I have been rooting for them ever since.
It is worth noting that the Patriots weren’t always the villains.
When New England’s current run began in early 2002, at the end of the 2001 season, quarterback Tom Brady — remember, he’s from nearby San Mateo — was the young darling of the NFL.
Brady was a sixth-round draft pick in 2000 who spent his rookie season watching and learning behind starter Drew Bledsoe.
But when Bledsoe was seriously injured in the second game of the 2001 season, Brady came off the bench, eventually leading the Pats to their first Super Bowl victory.
Now, let’s go back to the beginning.
In 1960, behind quarterback Butch Songin (who?), the Pats had an unremarkable 5-9 inaugural season. Songin lost the starter’s job to Babe Parilli the next year, was traded to the Jets and was out of football a year later.
But Boston (they didn’t become the New England Patriots until 1971 when the Pats moved south to Foxborough) started an entertaining, high-scoring winning run behind Parilli and wide receiver Gino Cappelletti, making it to the AFL Championship game at the end of the 1963 season (they lost 51-10 to the Chargers).
And then followed years when they were mostly lovable losers before finally turning things around to earn a spot in Super Bowl XX, where they lost 46-10 to the Bears.
New England also earned a spot in Super Bowl XXXI where the Bill Parcells coached team lost to the Packers 35-21.
The Pats were fans favorites when they began their current run at the end of the 2001 season — well, favorites everywhere but Oakland.
That’s the year of the infamous “Tuck Rule” playoff game.
While this year’s New Orleans Saints fans are understandably upset over the non-call at the end of the NFC Championship game that propelled the Rams to this year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots also had a controversial call that led to the Super Bowl breakthrough that jumped-started the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick run of success.
Playing against Oakland on Jan. 19, 2002, in brutal New England weather, the Patriots trailed 13-3 midway through the fourth quarter of a first round playoff game against the Raiders when Brady led the Pats on a 67-yard touchdown drive.
With time running out, Brady was spearheading another drive when he went back to pass, pumped the ball as he was going to throw and was hit by Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson.
The ball came loose and was ruled a fumble that Oakland recovered, seemingly icing their win.
But since it was ruled a fumble, the play was reviewed and referee Walt Coleman reversed the call saying it was an incomplete forward pass.
The Pats kept the ball. Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-tying field goal and kicked another in overtime for a 16-13 New England victory.
Outside of Oakland, it was an unpopular ruling but still popular win over Al Davis’ Black and Silver squad.
The Pats went on to beat Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game and the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams — who’d abandoned Los Angeles for the greener pastures of St. Louis — 20-17 on another Vinatieri game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2002, in Atlanta.
The teams went in opposite directions after that — the Rams floundering for years until young coach Sean McVay righted the ship last year while the Pats went on to win two of the next three Super Bowls and five overall since the 2001 game.
The Patriots could have won three more — two against the Giants and last year’s against the Eagles — if their defense hadn’t let them down. That’s my concern this time around, too.
Now the tables are turned.
The Rams are back in California — the upstarts with a young, California-bred (Novato, Cal Berkeley) gunslinger, Jared Goff, running this new edition of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
They are also the team to benefit from a controversial call.
Is that an omen? I hope not.
Both teams are also back where it all began, in the Super Bowl, in Atlanta on Feb. 3.
If the Patriots’ defense can slow down Goff and the surprisingly rejuvenated C.J. Anderson to keep the game close (that’s a big “if”) and Brady gets the ball with two-minutes to go and the game on the line, I think TB12 will make another run into the record books to become the first quarterback to bring home six Super Bowl wins.
I’m picking the Patriots in a thriller — 38-35.