It’s a lonely time for non-football fans – as Sunday’s big game nears, it feels as if all of New England is embracing in a group huddle and we’re on the outside.

Super Bowl parties sound delightful in theory. What could be better than spending a cozy night in with friends supping on a hearty bowl of chili? But imagine what it’s like at one of these gatherings when you yourself don’t care about the outcome of the game. Let’s just say that I haven’t been invited to one in years.

On the one hand, I’m old enough to know that a victorious New England team is something to be cherished. And the Patriots are good – like dynastically good.

On the other, I miss my friends, family and other members of the Cult of Kraft. Recently I endured a conversation where the topics ranged from Rob Gronkowski’s career plans (no way he’ll retire – he loves it too much); to an injustice that may have occurred in Miami this year (the Pats were robbed); to how this Super Bowl title will finally give Tom Brady his due (fat chance, those who hate the Patriots are just jealous because we win so much!).

I’ve tried to give football a chance, but it’s, erm, pretty dull. An average game lasts well over three hours, but according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the ball is actually in play for only 11 minutes. That’s not a lot of action.

Besides, what the Pats have going for them doesn’t compel me. There’s Coach Bill Belichick, a man with all the charisma of a tax assessor. There’s Gronk, who in his spare time designs “rock star” party buses and offends female sports journalists.

And there’s Brady. My female friends implore me to consider watching games for No. 12 alone. Put aside his MAGA hat, they say. Forget about his scientifically dubious fitness regimen and overly restrictive diet, which reveal him as the world’s most joyless human. He just might be the greatest quarterback of all time. Or at least the most handsome. (I give them that.)

Recent events have made it somewhat more socially acceptable to disdain football. The growing body of research that suggests football causes long-term brain damage in players has underscored the league’s callous approach to its employees’ health. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest of police brutality and racial injustice has exposed the league’s ugliness and desire to put profits above everything else. But I am not going to preach. Every non-fan has his or her reason for abstaining.

To be sure, there are benefits to being a football fan. In the dead of winter, even a boring game can be better than staring at the falling snow. And whenever the country feels divided, we in New England can come together for a cause: the Pats.

So, even though I won’t be attending any Super Bowl parties Sunday, I will be enjoying a silent celebration. I’m getting my old friends back Monday. Or, if all goes well, maybe Tuesday.

In the meantime, how ’bout them Celtics?

 


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