The Super Bowl may be the largest unofficial sports holiday in American culture with family, friends and sports fans alike celebrating with barbecues and watch parties all across the country.
Even if you aren’t necessarily a football fan, chances are the big game is impacting your life in some way. Super Bowl LI has a direct impact on Bay Area football fans despite the fact that no Bay Area teams are participating in the game this year.
“I’m a die-hard Raider fan so I’m rooting against the Patriots,” senior softball player Alexis Konstantino said. “I’ve hated them since the early 2000s. I hope the Falcons win.”
The animosity between Raiders and Patriots fans dates back to 2002 when the Raiders were the third seed in the AFC, playing the Patriots, the second seed, in the divisional playoffs. Despite being the away team, the more experienced Raiders were heavily favored over younger quarterback Tom Brady. Though the game was close, the Patriots won 16-13 in overtime due to a controversial call late in the 4th quarter.
The Patriots would later go on to win Super Bowl XXXVI and Raiders fans would continue to harbor animosity for years to come.
The historic game sent the two franchises in opposite directions. New England would go on to win four Super Bowls, with Tom Brady winning two MVPs and head coach Bill Belichick winning three Coach of the Year awards. Since then, the Patriots have continued their chokehold on the NFL.
The Raiders, on the other hand, became the cellar dwellers of the league. Despite making the Super Bowl the following season, it took Oakland 14 years to finish a season with a winning record. Raider Nation endured draft busts, relocation threats from ownership and overall terrible play on-field.
“I’ve rooted against the New England Patriots since that game,” basketball player Brantley Bynum said. “They’ve gotten in trouble for scandals multiple times over the years.”
San Francisco 49ers fans have a vested interest in a Patriots loss as well.
With Brady and Belichick spearheading New England’s dynasty, they have capitulated themselves into discussion as the greatest of all time in their respective positions. Currently, former Niners Joe Montana and Bill Walsh universally hold that title, but a Super Bowl win for the Patriots will likely place Brady above Montana and Belichick above Walsh.
Montana and Walsh were the masterminds behind the Niners’ dynasty of the 1980s, winning four Super Bowls from 1982 to 1990. Montana also won two MVPs while Walsh won two Coach of the Year awards himself.
“I hope Atlanta beats the Patriots because I want Montana and Walsh’s legacies as the GOATs to stay intact,” rugby captain Andrew O’Brien said.
Another reason many SF State students are siding with the Falcons is the cultural and political differences. Atlanta is considered hip, especially amongst the younger generations. Some of the most influential cultural references have ties with Atlanta including Migos, Future and Dwight Howard.
New England, on the other hand, has had negative racial history with athletes of their beloved sports teams like Bill Russell and David Price. Brady and Belichick have ties to President Trump. In fact, Brady had a “Make America Great Again” cap in his locker during his media availability. While Atlanta may be the hip-hop mecca of the present, the New England/Boston area has a more conservative view on life.
“Hopefully Brady and their Trump supporter fan base takes the loss on Sunday,” O’Brien said.
It seems as though SF State athletes, along with many Bay Area football fans, will unite against the Patriots this Sunday. The Falcons seem to resonate with college kids, athletes in particular. The Patriots are seen as the evil empire and the Falcons are the rebel alliance, representing the good and fair side of the galaxy of football.
No matter the outcome, the hope is that the footballs are fully inflated and the force is with both teams enough to make for an exciting game.