Super Suffering: One Fan's Take on the East Coast Matchup

Dave Seminara often writes for Indianapolis Monthly and covers sports for The New York Times, ESPN, and other publications. This season, he published several articles for the Times from the perspective of a Buffalo Bills fan—for whom the Super Bowl XLVI matchup represents extreme agony. Here, his final word.

My pathological hatred of the New York Giants began the day I barricaded myself in a dorm room as a gang of marauding Giants fans attempted to break down my door. It happened in the painful aftermath of Scott Norwood’s unforgivable wide-right miss, which sealed the fate of my beloved Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV, 21 years ago.  (They lost 20-19.) I’m now 39 years old, happily married, and the father of two boys. But I still hate the Giants.

I was the only Bills fan at St. Mary’s Hall, a huge dormitory at Villanova University that was chock-full of cocky Giants fans. My team was a 10-point favorite, but I was still nervous enough about the outcome that I chose to watch the game alone, inside my 8’x10’ cell, on a 13” black-and-white television with rabbit ears antenna. The door was locked throughout the game, and just before Norwood’s final field goal attempt, I took the additional step of barricading it with chairs and a mini fridge. That proved to be fortuitous.

The moment the ball sailed wide right, the gang—some of them friends, some acquaintances, others strangers—began pounding on my door, ramming it, chanting, threatening to break in.

I don’t know what they would have done if I’d opened the door, but I wasn’t about to find out. I turned out the lights, got under the covers, and stewed for about two hours. Then I got up, peeked out the door, and, realizing that the coast was finally clear, snuck out onto the cold, dark streets of Philadelphia’s Main Line. I walked for miles along Lancaster Avenue, replaying the tragic moment in my mind as tears welled up in my eyes. The Giants had just won the Super Bowl a few years before—they didn’t deserve it! This was our year! I was an 18-year-old college freshman, and the Giants had just ruined my life.

Tragically, my team would go on to lose in the Super Bowl in my sophomore, junior, and senior years of college as well. I got a diploma but no Super Bowl win. But no loss ever stung as much as the first one. After that failed kick, I stopped believing that God would bestow championships upon the most deserving, title-starved fans. There was no football God, and Buffalo would never win.

That gloomy sporting worldview has never felt more valid than this year, as two spoiled-rotten fan bases, both with recent titles, have an opportunity to see their teams win again in the Super Bowl.  Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention that I hate the Patriots, too. Hate is probably too mild a term. Loathe. Detest. Abhor. Despise. You get the point.

It isn’t just the fact that my team is a woeful 2-21 against the Patriots over the last decade-plus. Okay, so it is mostly about that. But I also dislike the team’s uniforms, its too-pretty and too-talented quarterback, and the fact that it’s so damn good.

Over the last 30 years, there have been only two Super Bowls in which I failed to conjure a rooting interest: this one and the first Pats-Giants matchup, in ’08.  In recent days, I’ve tried very hard to determine which team is the lesser evil because I have a hard time watching a game if I have zero interest in the outcome.  

But the task has been a bit like trying to decide if I want to listen to R.E.O. Speedwagon or Richard Marx; vote for Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin; get a root canal or have a colonoscopy. I just can’t do it. I simply cannot bring myself to root for either of these teams, even passively. Even if I had a million shares of Facebook stock riding on one of them, I’d still have mixed feelings about rooting for either.

Perhaps all I can hope for is some sort of cataclysm that would prevent this game from actually taking place. No, I don’t want anyone to get hurt—no earthquakes or anything like that. Maybe something like a good, old-fashioned power outage right before kickoff would do the trick. But with all the money at stake, inevitably it would be rescheduled.

Yes, the show must go on, so for me, and other haters, the only ray of light in this bleak football season is the fact that fans of either the Giants or the Patriots are going to be very, very disappointed come Sunday evening. I doubt that they will feel as bad as I did in 1991, but I can always hope. 


Photo courtesy Bromer Sports