Note: This post’s first half is tongue-in-cheek, folks. If we can’t have a sense of humor in the comments section, I’ll be throwing penalty flags on you. Because heaven knows they won’t be thrown on the Patriots.
I personally suspect that it might be amongst the lowest-rated Super Bowls in NFL history. I’m writing this several hours before kickoff, so I don’t know if this prediction is true as you’re reading this. But it’s my guess.
And not just because of this year’s well-intended but broad and self-defeating player protests, though that’s part of it.
No, it’s because it’s the Patriots.
Partially because we tire of seeing the same team year after year. Tire of the same fawning drool from the talking heads. Tire of people saying that (your NFL team here) should cut all their players after their first contracts because raawwrrr let’s be cutthroat like New England. Sure. That’s exactly why they win. *eyeroll*
Partially because we all know what’s coming. The Patriots will enter the 4th quarter trailing by two scores and win without breaking a sweat, because thirty NFL teams haven’t yet learned NOT to field soft prevent defenses against them in the 4th quarter. Fans know it. Analysts know it. New England knows it. The Giants knew it, fortunately for our sanity. But thirty NFL teams don’t.
Partially because some of us believe (or, like Fox Mulder, want to believe) in the conspiracy theory that NFL referees favor the Patriots because it’s “best for the game”.
Maybe. Indulge me: every time a commercial uses game footage to sell a TV or broadcast package, what kind of play is shown? A defensive play? A running back? Don’t make me laugh. It’s a ground-perspective shot of a dramatic leaping catch in the corner of the end zone. That’s what sells. And nobody produces more of those plays than Pats quarterback Tom Brady.
But this is why I’ll really be more interested in talking with friends (or maybe watching paint dry, that’s always good) during the game: the Patriots haven’t always played by the rules.
Yep. I went there. Tom Brady, futzer of footballs, deleter of SMS evidence. Bill Belichick, videotaper of opposing team practices. Or at least he makes a great scapegoat.
And that’s why I don’t need to get worked up over it (too late?)…because their reputation is already sealed.
Though Brady and Belichick are the best tandem ever to play the game, those scandals ensure they’ll never get according respect. That’s already decided. I can just relax and enjoy a mineral water in my sunchair (if I had a sunchair, or a mineral water) because no matter how many rings they win, there will always be an asterisk next to their names in people’s minds.
And in the end, no matter how many hip replacements Tom Brady has before he finally retires at age 67 (now there’s a deflating thought), he can’t be on the stage forever.
It’s the same with Satan.
I believe Satan exists. I believe he messes with us, because we are the creation of the God he hates. I believe he’s enough of a threat to merit the flashing warning of 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
But at the end of the day, I believe his fate is sealed. Scripture has declared it.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8b)
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14)
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:20)
No soft defenses here. One greater than Satan is holding the lead entering this 4th quarter, and he will not blow it. For the Christian, Jesus alone holds life and death. We are in his hands.
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be harmed by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
No matter what we suffer in this life, no matter what losses we endure, no matter what sorrow we must undergo in the night (including Patriots games), joy will come in God’s morning.
So, though we must be alert and sober, though we will sometimes grieve, we can also have peace. Satan’s doom is decided. His work will be destroyed. His illicit dominion will end. He will never gain the throne he seeks. Someone else is already on it. He will be ours, and we his, forever.
Enjoy the game today.
But enjoy hope even more.