This weekend the NFL team I grew up watching, the Kansas City Chiefs, will make their second consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl and take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. This has been an odd and, in some ways, a challenging year for the National Football League. COVID-19 has been a constant presence and the schedule has been adjusted quite a few times. There are few fans in stadiums around the country this year and, a few games in which star players had to sit due to COVID protocol. Additionally, the NFL started the season with a plea for social justice and an attempt to mend fences with Colin Kaepernick that caused some dissension among fans. While the intensity of that has dissipated a bit, it remains true that professional sports have become politicized.
As Super Bowl LV approaches, there’s a lot of excitement. Tom Brady, the 43-year-old quarterback of the Buccaneers is starting his tenth Super Bowl. That’s an amazing accomplishment. It will likely not be surpassed unless it is done so by his opposing quarterback, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes, the 25-year-old quarterback, is making his second consecutive Super Bowl start. This is a marquee match-up for football fans and is eagerly awaited by the media.
As big as the Mahomes/Brady storyline is, the game is likely to be decided in the trenches. Can the Bucs defense stop a Mahomes-led offense that has been able to score at will and in bunches? Can the Brady-led Bucs offense keep Mahomes and company off the field and shorten the game? Will Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans or Chris Godwin shock the world and have a career game? Will a presently unknown defensive player become famous for winning the Super Bowl MVP?
There are many interesting possibilities for this Super Bowl, and the betting line, while favoring the Chiefs, is careful to show respect to Brady and the Bucs. The magnitude of this game is such that it could be a game-changer for the NFL and, for a few hours Sunday night, create a unified diversion for our country.
However, it doesn’t seem like the media and the cultural left will allow us this brief respite. In a veiled attempt to smear him, Tom Brady is still being asked about his support for and his friendship with former President Trump.
USA Today’s Nancy Armour asked Brady, this week, if he thought black athletes had the same leeway white athletes do when broaching political or controversial topics.
It is an offensive and ridiculous question, especially today in light of the NFL’s push to spotlight social justice. Throughout this season, NFL players have been encouraged to make their voices heard and to use their platforms. The question to Brady isn’t about his opinion on the issue. It is an attempt to cancel Brady because he was/is friends with Donald Trump.
Saturday Night Live revealed as much in their recent skit, chastising Brady for supporting Trump . A cursory glance at Twitter, searching Brady and Trump, reveals all kinds of hate, loathing and ridiculous assertions of “white privilege.”
As I see it, this is outrageous and pathetic. Tom Brady can like and support politically whomever he chooses. LeBron James can openly advocate for Democrats and should if he feels that’s right. Tom Brady should also be afforded the same chance.
I am not sure it is wise to have sports heroes publicly sharing their views, but that ship has sailed. If Patrick Mahomes wants to make a video with other NFL players that supports BLM, it is his right. It is also Tom Brady’s right to own a MAGA hat if he wants. The cancel culture of the left has no room for diversity of opinions, however. I know that’s not new. It’s now, though, invading the Super Bowl, making it much less fun.
So, what will happen on Sunday? I expect the Chiefs to win their second in a row. Mahomes and Brady will both do well, but the Chiefs have more weapons and will win a close one. Many will announce a new “G.O.A.T” in Mahomes. I doubt if it happens on a national broadcast, but some left-winger somewhere will conclude that Brady’s loss is another loss for Trump and white supremacy. I know. It is utterly stupid, but it’s 2021.