I should be better than this.
I was on the floor, doing push-ups, watching the NFL’s AFC championship game on Sunday night when Elysha asked, “How are your football games going ?”
“I really don’t care.”
It was true. I was hoping for a good game, which means one wherein the score remains close enough to keep it interesting, but a large part of me was annoyed that my team, the New England Patriots, was not playing in the game, and even worse, that I was not watching the game live in Gillette Stadium.
Earlier in the day, I texted my Patriots season ticket pals and said, “Great weather for a championship game at Gillette. 50 degrees. No precipitation. So annoyed.”
I know. I sound awful.
The problem is this:
I’m spoiled. I know I’m spoiled. I know that I shouldn’t be feeling this way. But it’s hard to avoid these feelings of frustration and lament after experiencing such long-term, nearly unabated joy.
From 2001 to 2018, New England Patriots played in 13 out of the 17 AFC Championship games, including a record 8 in a row.
They won 9 of those championship games. Went on to win 6 Super Bowls.
I personally attended 7 of those championship games in section 333 of Gullette Stadium.
During that incredible stretch of good fortune, my friends and I would constantly remind ourselves to enjoy these moments because they would not last. A winning streak like that may never happen again, so we constantly counted out blessings, celebrated our luck, and told ourselves that one day it would end.
Then it did. For the last four years, the Patriots have failed to reach the championship game. In fact, they missed the playoffs entirely in two of those four years, including this year.
Despite my promises to count my blessings and recognize my great fortune of those 17 years, I still found myself deeply annoyed on Sunday night. I couldn’t believe that, once again, the Patriots weren’t playing for a championship.
What a jerk I am.
The Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders haven’t played in a championship game in 30 years.
The Dolphins, Cowboys, and Browns haven’t reached a championship game in more than two decades.
I have personally attended more championship games than 20 NFL franchises have competed in.
I’ve personally witnessed my team win more championship games (6) than all but 5 NFL teams have ever won.
This isn’t even counting 1985 and 1996 when the Patriots also won the AFC championship game. I wasn’t a season ticket holder back then and didn’t attend those games, but I was old enough to watch both of those games, remember them well, and celebrated those victories with enthusiasm and joy.
I’ve had a remarkable run as a Patriots fan, and I am indeed grateful for all the remarkable, unforgettable moments that the franchise has given me over the course of my lifetime, but I want more.
I won’t be satisfied with anything less than championship football.
I’ll be annoyed whenever the team that I love isn’t playing in the championship game.
I’ll be frustrated when I am not personally watching the championship game be played in Gillette Stadium.
Success breeds contempt, and I know this well. The Patriots are routinely in the top 10 of the most hated NFL teams in America.
Good. I like that.
But success also breeds the desire for more success, which I am now experiencing. When the Patriots aren’t playing for a championship, I am annoyed, upset, and angry, I feel cheated. I feel like something is broken in the universe.
I’m insufferable. I should be better than this.
I am not.