Loving my Boston sports teams isn’t enough. I need a rival to hate.
Look, I know it’s crazy. I know I’M crazy. When it comes to sports, I have issues because essentially I’m just rooting for laundry. But I don’t care. I don’t care that I place an unnatural significance on the outcome of professional sporting events played by millionaires who don’t care about me personally. Want to know why? Because it’s fun.
It’s fun to love a team you’ve inherited from your father who inherited it from his father. It’s fun to bond over that love, go to games, and dissect play calls like it actually matters what we think. It’s fun to have common ground and to celebrate victories while knowing you’re in good company after defeats.
But most of all, it’s fun to share a mutual hatred of hated rivals.
Being a Boston fan, I’m lucky to have no shortage of hated opponents in that department. As Boston Bruins fans we have no patience for those sniveling turds from Montreal. Growing up a Celtics fan, it was all about my favorite player, Larry Bird, and loathing Magic Johnson and the reviled slickness of the LA Lakers. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, it goes without saying my hatred for the pinstriped Yankees from New York knows no bounds, and 2004 was the ultimate purging of demons as the Red Sox completed the greatest comeback in sports history while the Yankees choked away a sure thing.
While I love all sports, football is my favorite to watch. And the Patriots are our beloved hometown team to which we swear fealty and pledge to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
My father is entering his 44th year as a Patriots season ticket holder. I’ve been going to games since the age of 6 with my dad and brother, and soon my sons will join the club. With the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady 15 years ago came an unexpected string of good fortune, which transformed the Patriots from a laughingstock to a model organization and paragon of success, which means one thing — lots of haters came out of the woodwork. Thankfully, I give as good as I get.
Let’s start with the division rival New York Jets, who haven’t won squat since before men were able to walk on the moon. Yet these wretched souls are filled with hope every single year and they actually believe they have a chance, until Tom Brady and Bill Belichick put them in their rightful place. Also, this:
Then you have the Pittsburgh Steelers. Long the kings of the NFL decades ago, they were bested by the upstart 2001 Patriots and Hines Ward and company have been whining ever since. I had the pleasure of being at Heinz Field for the 2001 AFC Championship game, where smug Steelers fans taunted us mercilessly before the game. So when Brady, Bledsoe, Bruschi, Brown and the Patriots slapped them into stunned silence to advance to the Super Bowl, we danced on their lawn and sent the double freedom rockets into orbit.
And then you have the Indianapolis Colts. Sweet mother of crap do I hate the Indianapolis Colts.
It started in the early 2000s when Peyton Manning got all the credit and accolades, despite Tom Brady being the better quarterback. While Manning was racking up stats, Tom Brady did nothing but win with FAR less talent at his disposal. In the 2003 AFC Championship game, the Patriots intercepted Manning four times to advance to the Super Bowl. The following year in the playoffs, the Patriots held Manning to 3 measly points en route to another Super Bowl win.
And then, in 2013 when Manning was playing for the Broncos, Brady led the Patriots to overcome a 24-point deficit to beat “I don’t like the cold” Manning in overtime, prompting this celebration from my dad.
And now the Colts are led by Andrew Luck and a team of crybaby maggots who whined about deflated footballs that didn’t even factor into a 45-7 butt-whooping. I was wondering how I’d manage to hate Luck, who by all accounts is a nice guy and fantastic football player. But now I have my answer. They, along with the NFL, tried to catch the Patriots in a sting in an attempt to besmirch the greatest QB ever to grace a football field. Even though it didn’t work and a $5 million report came up with no hard evidence against our Lord and Savior Tom Brady, his name is still being dragged through the mud. And that will never be forgotten. Not today, not tomorrow, and certainly not on October 18, 2015, when Tom Brady travels to Indianapolis and once again crushes the spirits of Indy players and fans who dare oppose him.
In the end, I’m thankful for the rivalries. Rooting for the Patriots is awesome, but rooting against hated rivals and reveling in their defeat while dancing on their withered bones, is what makes it all worthwhile.
Smack Apparel, the official home of all collegiate and professional sports rivalries, realizes this and caters specifically to fans like me who enjoy irritating fans of other teams to no end. Their Smack Zone blog makes its inaugural debut today, focusing exclusively on sports passion and rivalries, because Smack has been assisting smack-talkers give as good as they get for nearly 20 years.
That’s why I’ve teamed up with Smack Apparel to offer a free t-shirt to a lucky recipient. You have to leave a comment here describing which teams/opposing fans you love to hate, and follow Smack Apparel on Twitter to win. You’ll receive a virtual gift card to buy a shirt of your choosing, just in time for the start of the season on Sept. 10 (when the defending champion Patriots kick off against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers).
Also, be sure to check out the #SmackZone Twitter party on Sept. 8 from 8-9 pm EST for more great prizes. So leave a comment here and that will automatically enter you in the drawing, which will be finalized later this week.
Now LET’S GO PATRIOTS!!!
*I have partnered with Smack Apparel on this campaign and while I received compensation, all opinions expressed here are my own.