Do you know how hard it is watching your team leading in the fourth quarter while Tom Brady has the ball in his hands? It’s a weird space to be in. You’re supposed to be that ignorant fan jumping around-talking that shit because you’re a few minutes away from victory. But in reality, it’s quite the opposite. You’re quiet as a mouse, hoping that if you don’t make a sound it will help your defense focus (sports fans are weird, we know).
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece where I talked about watching Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special. I talked about how I was mesmerized and inspired by watching a master of his craft do his thing at the highest level. When I watched Tom Brady methodically bring the ball down the field against the Jaguars to clinch his eighth Super Bowl appearance, I felt the exact same way. And, even though Brady and his late game heroics broke mine, and the entire city of Jacksonville’s heart last night, I want him to take home his sixth Super Bowl in two weeks. I think there’s no arguing anymore. Brady, like Chappelle, is simply the G.O.A.T. The greatest of all time.
I can put my fandom and heart ache to the side as I write this to pay respect to a living legend. Never once during yesterday’s game did I feel comfortable about taking home the victory. Not during the 14 point first quarter, not being up 10 with nine minutes to play. Never. We’ve seen this story one too many times before. 350 days ago, we saw Brady rally the Patriots back against the Falcons in the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. How’s the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
My girlfriend and I caught the train from our house in Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles, matching from head-to-toe in Jaguar gear (she looked a lot better than I did) to watch the game. I was expecting to walk around and get lost in the Twilight zone that is DT LA, but something else happened. It felt like the whole city noticed us at every turn. At least five or six times people walked past us and yelled, “GO JAGUARS! WHOO!” It was the weirdest thing ever. We are 2,142 miles away from the city of Jacksonville, but it felt like we were smack dab in the center of Duval County. It was like the collective universe came together, and for one day, everybody outside of Massachusetts was a Jaguar; the power of sports, man.
We hopped in a Uber and made our way to this bar named EightyTwo. My boss took me a few months back when we flew out here from Austin to look for houses before we moved out. It’s a bar with vintage video games in it everywhere. It’s pretty dope, only problem was that the bar didn’t open until 2. So, we walked around and found this little spot named Resident, that was a food trailer park with a bar and patio area, it reminded Leslie (the misses) and I of Austin, so we stuck around.
We took our first shots of the day when the Jaguars put up their second TD of the first quarter. In my mind, I was trying to numb myself with whiskey and trick myself into being a little confident about taking the victory home. Let me be the first one to tell you, it didn’t work. I don’t want to talk about certain plays or breaking points in the ball game because I’m only going to get sad again, but I will say this. There were certain times during the late second and early third quarter where I looked at Leslie and told her I wasn’t feeling too hot about how it was going. Now, remember that the Jaguars were winning this game up until the end, every time the Jags made a play Brady put his helmet on and said, “Hold my beer.”
I’ve learned that if you don’t distance yourself and maintain momentum against the Patriots, something bad happens. Bill Belichick’s defensive scheme started to figure out the Jags running attack and that’s when you could slowly feel the lead slipping away. I watched this lead crumble to pieces, it felt like watching sand slip out of my closed fist as I tried to hold on to it. What’s worse is that there is absolutely nothing you can do but watch a magician pull off the greatest trick of his career, again.
Let me not forget to mention Blake Bortles played the game of his life yesterday. Bortles finished 23-36, 293 yds, and 1 TD. The difference between Brady, 26-38, 293 yds, 2 TD, and Bortles, though, was Brady did what he do best, and that is make the big play when it matters most. Brady’s been there-done that, while the young ferocious Jaguars looked like the cubs they are in this league. No one expected them here this early in the re-build, which makes me happy as a fan. Everybody expected Brady and the Patriots return to the Super Bowl, which also makes me happy as a fan. Winning is attractive to me. Being the best is attractive to me, that’s why I’m between a rock and a hard place.
I’m at a crossroads where I feel bad for rooting on the man who ruined my day yesterday. I also don’t feel so bad because I know sometimes no matter how hard it is, you must show respect where respect is due. To maintain the level of success that the Patriots organization has maintained over the years is impressive. A modern-day dynasty. But like my man Desus Nice says, “You gotta hear both sides.” That is where my boy Chuck comes in.
I talked to my boy Chuck, who works with me at RBI, after the Eagles put a beat down on the Vikings. He is the proudest Philly sports fan I know, and I couldn’t be happier for him, and his city. We had one of those heart-to-hearts that only happen when there is booze and sports involved. We’ve known each other for a long time, but we’ve never officially met. We’ve written pieces together, we talk shit on Twitter to each other about the Lakers and 76ers, it’s a beautiful relationship; but last night was a night I think we’ll both remember for a very long time. A night he was celebrating his heart out as he deserved to, while I ravished in his team’s victory from the sideline. I did it because, as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that how you conduct yourself during defeat is way more important than how you act while victorious. I also know that if my Jags won and his Eagles lost, he’d be showing me the same love back. You can’t help but root for people who root for other people.