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An ode to Gonzo Journalism. When the going gets weird the weird go pro.- Hunter S. Thompson
I walked into the household of the dynasty with no goal in mind. I was just there to watch football and eat good food and hang out with my friend Hector Alcantar. What I got was a study in resolve, joy, community and pure despair. Hector and I have known each other through high school and he is one of the least tolerable Patriots fans I know. That’s a good thing, I enjoy hanging out and getting to know people who are confident. Going into this game I would say the Alcantar household was more than confident. The general vibe was that this game was the one, the one that would solidify the Patriots as the greatest franchise of all time. To the outside public they already were but to the Patriots castle this game was a re affirmation of baptism in victory. I entered the house to a stern scolding, I made the conscious mistake to wear my Broncos gear to this game. Not the flamboyant orange but a throw back cap and a grey conference championship long sleeve. The reasoning was twofold, consciously this was the last day of the year I could wear football gear. Unconsciously somewhere deep down I thought that maybe I would be a bad luck charm.
The First Quarter: Where do they get these chips and the definition of resolve.
I arrived fashionably on time, I missed the anthem and settled in right after the kick off. Grabbing a plate of chips and guacamole I watched the first drive. The immediate question I had was, where do they get these chips? I’d been at this exact same party last year and the chips had been just as good. They weren’t dry and grainy like the store-bought version of Tostitos these were crisp, salty restaurant quality chips. The Guac was thin and runny, it looked like a sick ooze of some bodily variety. Don’t judge a book by its cover though, it was delicious, spicy but not so much that it was unpleasant. Enough about food more on football. The feeling in this household was resolve. Resolve: Firm determination. After an early touch down drive by the Eagles the living space jammed with family friends and co workers most of which were Patriots fans was completely calm. They had seen this movie before the Patriots haven’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl since the dynasty began against the Rams. No worry, cracking Modelos, a pure uninhibited state of calm and relaxation. That is the definition of Resolve.
The Second Quarter: Brady can’t catch, more resolve, and a moment of pure panic.
No worry, cracking Modelos, a pure uninhibited state of calm and relaxation. That is the definition of Resolve.
The second quarter began with an Eagles touchdown. The house was still calm though, they were quieter now but you could see in their eyes there was no worry. No sense of panic just silence and focus. This all changes when the Patriots run a trick play and Brady drops a pass and the Eagles presence in the house, mainly myself, proclaims “Gisele was right he can’t throw and catch the ball!” In reference to an interview Brady’s super model wife gave back in the summer. That remark gets some laughs and I live with the bit until it gets tired it’s second time, then it is completely scrapped. The strange thing about this game was as much as I was routing for the Eagles I found myself cheering when James White rumbled in for a touchdown. The intensity and happiness of the house got to my core I guess. I stood up and cheered at full froth with the rest of the rowdy Patriots fan. This was less of a watch party and more of a Boston based bar transplanted into the middle of urban Salt Lake City Utah. When Nick Foles scores a touchdown off a pass from Trey Burton the room is in disbelief but still completely calm all at the same time. I make a remark that goes un heard about Nick Foles being able to catch a football, I’m glad it falls upon deaf ears as I’m sure Salt Lake Masshole death stares would have ensued if it was heard. Things are going well, and no one is worried until the TV with 30 seconds left in the half mysteriously shuts off. Total panic, I can only imagine what that must be like for a host. Here you have the biggest TV event of the year and your Television shuts off with 20 plus people in the room instantly enraged. Mr. Alcantar grumbles that he’s going to call Comcast and curses at his TV as his youngest son reboots it. For 15 seconds there is an air of palpable tension in the room. You can feel the people trying to decipher their next move, this is not a group of people who are willing to miss the Super Bowl. Then in a split second sweet relief and the game is back on. Everyone calms back down, and we reach halftime.
Halftime: Good times, good food, family.
I would like to take this moment to appreciate culture. It is so often lost in the present day that there is culture other than our own. The Alcantars being a Hispanic American family offered up nothing but culture and selfless hospitality to me. At half time I decided to skip the over hyped, work man like JT performance and intermingle. I quickly bested a Raiders fan in Madden with my beloved Broncos after I was shit talked mercilessly. I’m not one to throw verbal barbs on the virtual gridiron, if you want to play me, play me save the talk for after. I ventured into the kitchen and ate some of the best Tacos I have ever had. A big thanks to Mrs. Alcantar for that, I missed out on the enchiladas, much to my chagrin, but they looked equally delicious. So often you go to these things and feel like a complete stranger, not here. Here I was part of a family. The food was delicious the Coca Cola was plentiful, and I had a wonderful time.
Third Quarter: They call him the GOAT, and astute observations on lack of defense.
The Third quarter started with a masterful drive from Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. At this point the house has elevated from resolve to confidence. Unaltered confidence is a dangerous thing. The word GOAT was thrown around several times during this quarter even after going down to the Eagles. This casa was rocking and rocking hard for the Patriots. However, one creeping disturbance nagged in whispers in the corners of the house, where is our defense? This was a fan base who totally believed in the coaching of Bill Belichick to prevent things like missed tackles, yet the Patriots missed the most tackles in a game since the stat was tracked in 2006 according to Cris Collinsworth. On the outside there was backslapping and merry making but in the pits of there stomachs you could feel creeping concern. One fan I was sitting next too remarked several times, “I thought they fixed the defense”.
Fourth Quarter: Confidence, then Worry creeps in and then….
The Fourth kicks off in the Pats bar turned house with the Brady to Gronk TD and the Pats taking a lead for the first time in the game. There is hope, I have written about hope before so I won’t hammer it to death, but hope is essential in times like these. Then though worry crept in. In the longest most painful drive of this tumultuous living room bars life the Patriots were massacred by the Eagles. Drained to there core. Nothing but fatigue and brittle dying bones was left on the field. In the house silence, headshaking and for the first time an emotion fresh and new to this family of sports fans, worry. Never has worry creeped into a Patriots fans mind. I asked Mr. Alcantar about worry and he was only been worried about this team one other time, last year at half time. The constant creeping fear of a loss was beginning to mount. It was almost a sigh of relief when the Eagles scored. The game would be won or lost by the offense. When Brady got the ball back though, yet again calm and resolve. Then a fumble.
Final: Poetic tragedy not even Shakespeare could write.
When the ball ended up in the Eagles hands for the first time the crowd got nervous. Shifty silence around the house. Excuses started to pour and suddenly you felt that this house knew doom was eminent. Before the play I felt the opposite texting my Dad to tell my Mother the Patriots were about to win the game. After the fumble though I felt as if the game was over. However, with three stops and a forced field goal something strange happened. In the pit of my stomach while the Patriots fans sheepishly looked on I felt over time coming. I have never been so confident, and I talked them into it. My hope had poisoned them, hope can also be harmful it can create falsities that any rational human could see right through but to a hopeful man would be as true as the Bible to a Priest. On the kickoff backwards half asked trickery pitch though I lost it. Hope for me disappeared. At that moment I knew all hope was lost. Yet the room still felt it, poisoned by false hope. 4th and 10 completion, hope begins to bubble. Throw in the flat and out of bounds to Gronk, hope builds. Same play as before, hope turns into confidence. An incompletion, hope dies down. The Final play. The room stands up, I remain seated and observe. The ball leaves Brady’s hands and for a moment as it soars over the 20 I get nervous I feel a sliver of hope. As it is bobbled around the end zone it grows.
I see it hit the ground. They see it in the patriot’s arms and the house erupts in applause. Joy. Then reality hits you like a freight train, shock. Silence, Hector and his father in pure disbelief. It is hope that has poisoned them. It is one of the most dementedly poetic things I have ever seen. From Joy to pure despair. I miss the final call of the game only to find later Al Michaels didn’t do a very good job, the man needs to retire he is no longer the best in the game. I finish my game of madden and revel in a few moments of private joy before thanking my hosts for there hospitality. I go home, next year this will happen again. Most likely with the Patriots but suddenly a community is broken apart the high of the crowd disappears and you realize how empty the world is without sports, as you distort the traffic light through rain on the windshield and ponder, tossing around in your mind, the definition of resolve.