The Immaculate Interception
By Ian Mahan February 4, 2015
Whether or not you are a Patriots fan (and I will assume most of you are not), three has to be this twinge of bewilderness that you get when you see amazing things happen in sports. Whether it’s Lynn Swann’s Elevated Catch, John Elway’s helicopter, or Tracey Porter jumping a route from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne, these are all images that spark euphoria. The aforementioned were also so much more important because of when they happened.
The Super Bowl.
I remember Elway’s helicopter. I remember it well. It’s not the most amazing
sports moment that I have stored in my memory bank, but during that time in my life I was too caught up in whatever Michael Jordan was doing, which was usually punking the everlasting life out of Byron Russell, but I do remember the helicopter.
Many ask how I stumbled into “Patriot”-ism, and though it is a long and winding journey, I will tell you the most important moment of it. In 2001, I watched a kid win the Super Bowl. I don’t remember the controversy of the “Tuck Rule” leading up to it and in a way I am glad. I am glad that at one point I was so naïve that Michael Jordan might have been caught up in a gambling ring in the NBA. I am glad that I don’t remember hockey teams messing with the curvature of their sticks in order to gain a better shot. I’m glad I had no clue.
Because of this innocence, I watched what would become my favorite football player start a dream run of a career from nowhere.
You could say that I “hopped on the bandwagon of the Patriots” in 2001, but I was also twelve, so call it what you want.
Maybe it was my inevitable man crush on Tom Brady developing, but maybe it was something else entirely. Maybe we were all watching a star being born. We were in fact, watching a star being born. We are often quick to forget the transgressions of others because of the success and transgressions of a few. And for this I rooted harder for this Patriots team than I ever have in my entire life. I wanted them to win this Super Bowl more than I wanted the perfect season. I wanted this more than I want to see Bill Belichick do stand up comedy and perform at my future children’s birthday parties.
In other words, I wanted this one bad. I got it, albeit not without the controversy that has seemed to follow my favorite team of fifteen years for the last seven years. “Deflategate” came out and I couldn’t figure out what to really think of it. It was such an asinine story that I almost paid no attention to it at first, then like the rest of America, I got wrapped up in it. I got wrapped up in it hard. Then I realized it didn’t matter. Then I started poking fun at it. Then I finally just said, “Screw you all, just wait for it.”
And you all waited. And you all got what you didn’t want.
Don’t get me wrong, for a moment when David Tyree decided to sign with the
Seahawks just before Super Bowl XLIX and make another catch blessed by the Football Gods…oh wait, no nevermind, it was Jermaine Kearse making that catch over unheralded rookie Malcom Butler (who?) and not over All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison, it felt like my heart had fallen out of my ass. I was sick to my stomach. It was like a gut punch and then being given a laxative and having eye drops put in your water like that scene from Wedding Crashers. I was that sick. Sure I was sick because it happened to my boys, but I think I was sick because I didn’t understand how one football player could be so tormented by putting his team in a position to win and having his defense not be able to hold up for less than two minutes. Two minutes, that’s all Brady needed in his last three Super Bowl appearances. Two minutes. I was just shaking my head. I couldn’t handle it again. A miracle catch and it wasn’t even Eli throwing the football. I just didn’t get it. I would have been just as sick had this happened to John Elway and he went 0-for-5 in his Super Bowl appearances.
Then, it turns out, just when you are at your breaking point of losing faith, sometimes the Football Gods reward you. Or in this case, divinely intervene.
Twenty seconds away from having his second Super Bowl victory over a Hall of Fame quarterback in as many seasons: Russell Wilson threw the worst pass of his entire life, Darrell Bevell made the worst play call, Pete Carroll approved said play call, and Malcom Butler made the most important play of his career.
The Immaculate Interception.
We’re onto the offseason.
Oh, and about those deflated footballs? Any ball, any time.