You hear it every season. Does the NFL want certain teams to win and instruct its referees to favor the desired franchise? Troy Polamalu’s overturned interception in last season's AFC divisional playoff game. A very late false-start flag on the Eagles' Scott Young in last week’s NFC divisional playoff. The "facemask" penalty on Bronco Nagurski in the 1934 NFL Championship game, which predated the invention of the face-masked helmet by nearly twenty years.
Perhaps league preference is merely fan paranoia. But if it isn’t and the NFL really does pull the strings, then I urge Commissioner Roger Goodell to finagle a New Orleans–New England Super Bowl.
Because nothing in the history of professional sports would lend cause to party like a Saints-Pats showdown.
Should that match-up come to fruition this weekend, Goodell must postpone the big game until March 17. Sure, this would be a dangerously unpopular move and hand everyone a ridiculous six-week wait that would drain every last drop of anticipation and excitement from the event. But the payoff! A Saints-Pats Super Bowl on St. Pat’s Day. Drinking on a scale never before seen. Excessively intoxicated fans everywhere—many of them female and eager to relieve themselves of clothing. New Year’s Eve 1999 in Times Square would be a Women's Christian Temperance Union meeting held on a Sunday in Pennsylvania during Prohibition by comparison.
And when better to celebrate a Super Bowl featuring superlative Irish players named Brady and McAllister than on St. Patrick’s Day?
Commissioner Goodell would do well to take a page from Pete Rozelle, the visionary progressive who brought the National Football League to national television, negotiated the NFL-AFL merger, and ensured that O.J. Simpson would not kill anyone in the stadium by enacting a harsh loss-of-down penalty for homicide.
Let’s hope that Commissioner Goodell has the good sense and the gumption to see this through—and we’ll all share the record for the longest bomb in Super Bowl history.
Erin Go Brees!