The Atlanta Falcons will try to deny the smooth-running football machine that is the New England Patriots another Super Bowl trophy. The Falcons are underdogs.
A lot of Americans naturally root for the underdogs. That’s one of the things that used to make America great.
The Falcons are the logical choice for casual football fans who dislike Trump. And there are many Americans who dislike Trump, as evidenced by hundreds of protests the past two weeks against the Predator in Chief, who dislikes underdogs when they are Muslim refugees trying to escape hellish wars in their homelands.
“The Falcons must win for America,” a sports editor for the liberal magazine The Nation headlined his advance story on Sunday’s game. They also might want to win for Atlanta, their hometown that Trump denigrated a few weeks ago as a cesspool of crime and decay because it’s the home of civil rights icon Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who called Trump an illegitimate president.
Trump is a big fan of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. They are all fabulously wealthy. Brady and Trump are both married to former models. Belichick has a reputation as a master strategist. Trump sees himself as the smartest man in any room.
Moreover, Belichick’s look of wearing rumpled sweats on the sideline probably reminds Trump of the weedpatch look of his chief strategist and top security aide, white nationalist Steve Bannon.
During his campaign, Trump name-checked Brady and Belichick almost as often as he talked about his great wall against Mexico or throwing Hillary Clinton in jail.
During the crush of media coverage before the Super Bowl, both Brady and Belichick have dodged questions about their friendship with the president. Belichick even answered a question about his underwear but wouldn’t comment on Trump.
Brady, on the heels of the greatest outpouring of protests since Americans took to the streets against the Vietnam War, said this about current events: “What’s going on in the world? I haven’t paid much attention. I’m just a positive person.” Dodged that Trump-laden question like he was escaping a blitzing linebacker.
One of New England’s black players, tight end Martellus Bennett, said he probably wouldn’t go to the White House for the traditional team visit if the Patriots win this Sunday because Trump would be there. In a league in which 70 percent of the players are black men, there probably are others who share Bennett’s sentiments about Trump, who received 8 percent of the black vote in November.
It won’t happen, but I literally had a dream that the black players on both teams gathered at midfield right before kickoff and said the Super Bowl won’t happen until Trump agrees to a list of their demands. Two demands would be: grow some basic human empathy and cut your hair. Your Ed “Kookie” Byrnes ducktail and pompadour looks ridiculous on a 70-year-old man.
What’s almost certain to happen, no matter who wins the game, is that Trump will be furious Monday at some perceived sleight he’ll suffer at the hands of halftime entertainer Lady Gaga. Ms. Gaga was a big Clinton supporter. It’s doubtful she’ll eschew the chance to throw a zinger or two at Trump before the world’s biggest audience, even bigger than his inaugural crowd. She could easily dedicate a song to fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates. That would keep Trump on Twitter for 20 furious minutes.
What I hope happens is that the traditional phone call to the winner’s locker room from the president goes like this:
(Rich team owner, eyes burning from champagne, takes phone from nebbish underling.)
“Yes, Mr. President. I can hear you. Why yes, it was a tremendous game, a real credit to the NFL and all our corporate sponsors, and…”
(Deep voice of a dog-tired defensive tackle booms through the noise of the celebration.)
“Hang up on that ducktailed fool. Congressman John Lewis is on the other line..”