ESPN analyst and radio show host Colin Cowherd said that the New England Patriots are good for the Super Bowl, because America likes a villain. But what if both teams in the Super Bowl are villains? Who do you cheer for?
In one corner, there are the New England Patriots, playing the role of Lex Luthor, the brilliant evil genius that causes so many troubles for Superman. Whether it's allegedly deflating footballs in the men's room of their stadium (Deflategate), or spying on the other team's practices (Spygate), head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady know all the lines that can't be crossed, and how to cross them.
New questions are being raised about how the New England Patriots obtained LaGarrett Blount, who mysteriously quit on the Pittsburgh Steelers, or how the team dramatically reduced fumbles after the rules allowed teams to control their own footballs.
The thing is, the Patriots were heavy favorites over the Indianapolis Colts, and defeated them soundly. So why bend or even break the rules? That's what you do if you're the villain.
Of course, like Luthor, they never really get caught. Nothing ever seems to happen to them other than a slap on the wrist. If you're the New Orleans Saints, ask what happens when the NFL comes after you for breaking the rules.
As for the Seattle Seahawks, they're the personification of the Joker, Batman's nemesis. They're just a little crazy. Maybe they're a little more than that. Exhibit A is Marshawn Lynch, who has a dislike of the media questions, an inability to follow uniform regulations, and has made obscene gestures after scoring touchdowns. Was his team punished for these? It might have helped his playoff opponents, the Green Bay Packers.
Exhibit B came after the big Seahawks win almost two weeks ago. After defeating the Green Bay Packers in an impressive comeback in the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks then proceeded to make a mockery of Martin Luther King Jr.'s classic "we shall overcome" quote, as if a football game was anything analogous to the civil rights struggle.
Exhibit C is Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson. After the win over the Green Bay Packers, Wilson claimed God led the team to the comeback victory. It could be just chalked up to an emotional outburst after a thrilling game. A few days later, when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Christian, noted that he doesn't think "God cares a whole lot about the outcome" of football games, Wilson sharply responded that God does indeed care about football. As a Christian, I'm pretty disgusted with this assessment.
Of course Americans will watch the game. But who will we root for? Who are we supposed to cheer for when it is Lex Luthor going against the Joker? Maybe football needs a villain, but not two of them.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.