New England can find peace in Denver misery

New England can find peace in Denver misery
February 3, 2014, 1:15 pm
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OK, so now that the Super Bowl is over and the Seahawks are world champions, New England can breathe a sigh of relief. First, because if the Seahawks are champs, that means that the Broncos are not. And if the Broncos are not, that means that Peyton Manning is not. And if Manning is not, that means that the collective fears of the last two weeks didn’t amount to Jack Schmidt.
 
Phew.
 
Instead, in this segment of the NFL world, it’s the same as it ever was. Even more of the same, if that makes sense. In the aftermath of Super Bowl XLVIII, the narrative of Manning’s career hasn’t been erased and re-written, but traced over 10 times in permanent marker. And not some budget, poison-ridden marker from the Dollar Store. We’re talking a designer, high-class product.
 
Here in New England, that marker smells better than a long whiff of Gisele’s hair.
 
Here in New England, there’s no need for new Manning material. The “best regular season QB in NFL history” still carries that same sarcastic pop.
 
Here in New England, we don’t have to spend the next few weeks or the entire NFL offseason with our heads buried in a snow bank while every talking head across every media platform scrambles to loudly anoint Manning as the best there ever was, while casually glossing over Tom Brady like he’s some lower life form. Instead, New England can relax, kick back and get stoned off some good old fashioned schadenfreude. Go ahead. You can inhale. No one has to know.
 
Of course, at the heart of these emotions, it’s not really about Manning’s legacy. It’s not so much about finding happiness in his failures as it is finding peace in his lack of success. And naturally, the lack of effect that lack of success has on the legacy of Brady. But at the heart of that, lies yet another truth. It’s one that we’ll conveniently ignore from now until forever, but one that’s worth mentioning at least once.
 
What happened to Peyton Manning last night would have happened to Tom Brady.
 
Maybe it wouldn’t have been so demoralizing. You have to assume that the Pats would have been better coached and prepared, and some of the unforgivable mistakes that will haunt the Broncos moving forward could have been avoided. Despite the Super Bowl’s neutral site, Denver was also at a distinct crowd advantage on Sunday, and that contributed to the opening safety that shaped the course of the entire game. Given the proximity of New York/New Jersey to Boston, you figure that the Pats would have been better represented, and some of that pseudo home field advantage could have been neutralized.
 
Although knowing the 12th Man, it may not have been by much. And knowing that Seattle defense, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
 
The Seahawks were better than the Broncos. They were better than the Patriots. The NFC Championship truly was their Super Bowl, and the actual Super Bowl was destined to be nothing more than a coronation.
 
In the big picture, this undeniably cheapens the blow from what happened two weeks ago in Denver. Just knowing how much more painful it would have been to watch it unfold on last night’s stage. It’s also a reminder of how much work lies ahead this Patriots offseason, and the strides that Bill Belichick must make to transform the Pats from a team that’s always in the championship conversation into a team that’s once again at the forefront.
 
Then again, we already knew this. We knew this after the AFC Championship. Deep down, we knew it all along. Still, today that loss in Denver almost feels like a blessing in disguise. In turn, that’s slightly depressing. That mentality kind of sucks. But hey, that’s just reality. And it could be a lot worse.
 
Peyton Manning and the Broncos could be Super Bowl champs.
 
And ultimately, the fact they’re not isn’t a testament to Manning’s inability to win the big game or motivation to forever mock his standing among the all time greats. Above all else, here in New England, it’s reason to say this:
 
Thank you, Seattle.
 
Even if you don’t love the players on that team, you have to respect what they accomplished. More than that, you have to respect those fans. Hell, Boston’s won eight titles (in the four major sports) over the last 13 years. Yesterday was Seattle’s third championship ever. The first was the 1917 Stanley Cup, won by a team (the Metropolitans) that no longer exists. The most recent was the 1979 NBA Championship, won by a team (the SuperSonics) that no longer exists.
 
Before last night, sports fans in Seattle were sports fans in Boston back in January of 2001. So abused and beaten down (somehow even more so than we were), yet still so inspired (somehow even more so than we were).
 
Today, they’re celebrating, and in our own demented way, New England’s celebrating right along with them. Not so much for what happened, but for what didn’t happen. For what the Seahawks prevented from happening.
 
And for the freedom to spend the next few months remaining hopeful about the future, without having to doing so with our heads buried deep inside a frozen snow bank.
 
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