It's the question that I've been asking myself all week: Who do I root for in the AFC Championship? As a Pats fan, the correct answer is that I root for a huge earthquake to level Heinz Field and swallow up both the Jets and the Steelers, but that's not very likely. So assuming that no natural disasters occur on Sunday, other than Rex Ryan's post-game dump, which team do I throw myself behind? Back in the day when my NBA team, the Timberwolves, were relevant and they would get ousted from the playoffs, I would often turn myself into an NBA monk and just pretend the rest of the post-season never happened. Unfortunately, there's just no way to do that this time around. The AFC Championship isn't being played at 10:30 PM on TNT like a Kings/Lakers game, the Super Bowl is a national event that everyone talks about, I happen to run a sports blog network that will be covering the games heavily, and I just like football too much to ignore it when there's only three games left until, well, who knows with the lockout? So like it or not, I have to pick a side.
In most situations like this, I just choose the team that I happen to like better. With Jets/Steelers it becomes a little more difficult as I have to realy sit down and figure out who I hate less…
Why I Hate the Jets:
– Rex Ryan is the antithesis of everything I believe a football coach should be. He has no class. He has no character. He is loud-mouthed, self-serving, and puts himself in front of his team. He allows his players to say whatever they want, no matter how inappropriate, and as a result has bred a 53-man team of pretty crappy role models. He is a gigantic blight on the National Football League, and other than serving as a great villain for anyone with an ounce of moral character to despise, he adds no positive value to the game of football.
And he likes to suck toes. Just had to throw that in there.
– The Jets have sexaually harrassed Inez Sainz this season, as well as had a scandal about sexual harrassment against Jen Sterger come to light. Santionio Holmes was investigated for assualting a woman. Antonio Cromartie needed a loan from the team to pay his child support for the nine children he's fathered with eight different women in six different states. I'm not Mr. Feminism, but that seems like a locker room full of scum bags to me.
– Mark Sanchez is not a good quarterback. His team wins in spite of him, not because of him. I'm tired of hearing people praise him when it's the Jets defense that gets the job done.
– The Jets hurled profanity laden tirades against the Patriots last week, including a threat of injury to Wes Welker by Bart Scott. Total classlessness. You would never hear a Bill Belichick team disrespect their opponent like that.
Why I Hate the Steelers:
– The Pats beat them handily in two AFC Championship games and all we've heard from them is whining.
– They've won six Super Bowl titles, which is the most ever. I could respect it, if the last two they won weren't complete and utter crap. They were a 6th seed in 2005 and beat Cincy in the Wild Card round by putting a cheap shot on Carson Palmer and tearing his ACL at the start of the game. They lucked out on a missed Vanderjagt chip shot in the next round. In Super Boxl XL, the most rigged football game I've ever seen, the referees have openly admitted that they made horrible calls that cost Seattle the game. Three years later, they were bailed out (as was the rest of the league) by Brady's ACL tear and the streaking Patriots getting locked out of the playoffs despite being 11-5. They barely eeked out a Super Bowl win against a Cardinals team that the Pats beat 41-7 weeks earlier.
Basically, they've fielded two of the worst Super Bowl teams in recent memory, who won it all by getting lucky, getting bailed out by the refs, and having other teams beat the actual good teams. In both those seasons I've failed to see them put forth a true "Championship" level effort. Where is the defining moment where they overcame a huge challenge to prove they were the best? There isn't one. If they win again this year, they could very well do so by facing a slate of a 5th seed, a 6th seed, and a 6th seed. Pathetic.
A Super Bowl is a Super Bowl, and if it were any other team, I'd leave it at that. But the last thing I want to hear is PIttsburgh fans spouting off about "seven rings" when three of them basically meant their team were the tallest midget at the circus during the three weakest seasons over the course of a decade.
– Ben Rapistberger. It would really irk me to see yet another shoud-be-convicted-felon hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The only thing Ben Roethlisberger shold be holding between his hands are prison bars.
So what's worse, the Jets and Rex Ryan winning a Super Bowl, or the Steelers winning a 7th? A talented dirtbag like Roethlisberger winning a title, or an over-rated hack like Mark Sanchez? Some thoughts to consider…
– If the Jets get to the Super Bowl and lose, it's still "progress" and somewhat of a victory for them. If the Steelers get to the Super Bowl and lose, it's not such a big deal. In terms of giving your enemy the least amount of gratification possible, having the Steelers advance and then lose is about as good as you can get for a Patriots fan.
– On the flip side, that would be a pretty big stomach-punch to the Jets to come "this" close to the title and lose the Super Bowl. I would certainly take great pleasure in watching that happen, similar to the Saints downing the Colts last year.
– If the Steelers win a 7th title, I just don't see the Patriots ever catching them in that department. You figure with a strong draft this year and some smart roster management, the Patriots still have time to rack up a solid two titles, and maybe even sneak in a third before Brady's window closes. If the Steelers stay put at 6 titles and the chips fell the right way, the Patriots could be just down one or even tied by the time Brady turns 40. Having the most Super Bowls has been a goal of mine since the Patriots won that third one in 2004. A Steelers win this year, pretty much kills the dream.
– If the Jets did win the Super Bowl, it would suck, but it's ultimately just one title. It would be like the Buccaneers winning in 2002, a good moment for the franchise, but not necessarily a defining moment in NFL history. We'd move on, and when the Patriots kick the Jets' tail next year, we'd tend to forget about it.
– The Jets knocking off Manning/Brady/Rapistberger and perhaps even Rodgers, lends a little more credibility to the Patriots' loss. It would sit with me much better to feel that the Patriots got beat by a really good team, as opposed to coming out and laying a stinkbomb against a mediocre opponent in a year where the Super Bowl was ripe for the picking.
– My best friend is a Jets fan. We don't trash-talk each other or anything like that, so the animosity level there is pretty low. He hasn't seen one of his teams win a championship since we were in 6th grade and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. As much as I'd like that stupid fireman to go to his grave never seeing his team win a title, I'd feel bad if my best friend never experienced what it's like to see your team hoist the Lombardi.
So in case you hadn't figured it out yet, I'm backing the New York Jets on Sunday. All bets are off in the Super Bowl and I hope Mark Sanchez throws eight picks and that Rex Ryan cries at the podium while delivering his post-game press conference, but I'll be rooting for them to get there. In the end, it really boils down to the Patriots and protecting their legacy vs. a temporary feud with an obnoxious team. A 7th Steelers title and a 3rd for Roethlisberger could start to take away from what the Patriots and Brady have accomplished this decade and their historical standing in the future. A Jets win is simply aggravation that we'll all get over.
Still, I'll secretly keep pulling for that earthquake.