That IS the Question.


By frightened Emmet

I have become a modern day Hamlet, unable to decide whether to watch the Sunday football game between my beloved Patriots and the hated Denver Broncos…or to assume my natural position hiding under my L. L. Bean comforter .

The Patriots cannot win. Do I want to watch them lose…to a Manning?

To watch or not watch, that is the question—
whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Mannings,
Or to take arms against a sea of Bronco touchdowns,
And by opposing, end them? To nap, to sleep—
No more; and by a Saturday nap, to say we avoid
The heart-ache, and the thousand extra points
That Patriots are heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To read, to nap,
To sleep, perchance to dream of another Patriots Super Bowl; Aye, there’s the rub.

It all started with Larry Bird. I became much too close to Celtics wins and losses. I would change the television channel when things got too tight. I would watch some cop show for a few minutes, then take a peek to see how the Celts were doing. If they were up by five over the Lakers, I would watch some more. I know it sounds crazy, but the Celtics seemed to do much better when I stopped watching. My Irish superstition took over and I became convinced that I was a source for good. My benign neglect then spilled over into Red Sox games, then the Patriots.

When in doubt, tune it out.

The Broncos-Patriots showdown is being held in Denver. This means that the crowd-and the officials- will be solidly behind the Broncos. If the game was scheduled for Foxboro, I think the Patriots would have a chance of winning. But the Pats have lost so many good players to the sidelines and the local hospitals (plus prison) that Las Vegas bookmakers have made Denver a five-point favorite. That’s a lot.

If the Patriots were playing San Francisco or Seattle, I would watch without question. (They are the other two teams left still playing.) But to watch another loss to a (ptui!) Manning would be too much to bear for my fragile psyche.

I hate all Mannings.

In case you have forgotten, the Patriots lost TWO Super Bowls to that hillbilly, Eli Manning and the New York Giants. One loss was aided by a fourth down “helmet catch” to David Tyree who has since vanished from the Earth. The other was helped by a closed-eyes Manning sideline pass to (I would not lie) Mario Manningham.

In case you have been visiting Lee, New Jersey, the Broncos are led by Eli’s big brother, Peyton Manning. This Manning has not only had a season for the ages (breaking some of Tom Brady’s records) but has been named Sportsman of the Year by the sporting Bible, Sports Illustrated. All of this came after Peyton (ptui!) had a dozen or so neck surgeries. If you are alive and have a television, you know this Manning from his endless ads for pizza and new cars. Why they chose this lump for their spokesman is beyond me. I will never eat at Papa John’s or drive a Buick as long as I live.

I hate Archie Manning, the father. I would hate the mother if I knew her. There is another brother, somewhere. I hate him, too.

I could manfully accept a Patriots loss to any other team not lead by a Manning. I would drink a beer and give the other team credit, sort of.

But watching the Sunday game could take years off my life span. I don’t have many to spare. There will be yelling. There will be swearing. I may just hide under my comforter. I may just take a good, long, four-hour walk (not bloody likely).

But if everything breaks right, if Tommy throws three touchdowns, if LeGarrette Blount (who?) scores four more running touchdowns and Peyton Manning (ptui!) throws five interceptions, then I will never forgive myself for not watching the Manning exorcism. Think of the Manning press conference.

To watch, or not to watch…