Monday I was sad my team lost so I told myself it was just a game. A football game. Our nation’s largest millionaires slam into each other causing possible irreparable brain damage. It’s America showing some of our most indulgent and barbaric behavior.
It is, but it’s not. It means more.
I was surprised at how genuinely sad I was that our Carolina Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos Sunday night. I didn’t cry, that’s stupid, but there was some sulking and eating my feelings.
The story of this year’s Super Bowl goes deeper for us. See, we have a group of friends that make up our Fantasy Football league. We are six married couples. We became close friends after four couples (including us) were neighbors for several years. We all share a mutual love of crass humor and loud laughs. We have hosted the Super Bowl for several years. Last year was a fiasco as we inadvertently poisoned our friends with my brilliant “Build Your Own Nachos” bar idea. The source of everyone barfing the next day was either baby diaper fecal contamination or the more likely source, a virus. Our friends were able to joke about this through the year, thankfully. Two Fantasy team names were “Super Bowl Upchuck” and my team “Tainted Queso.”
This year we had to have everyone back, even with the poisoning. You see, this was our Super Bowl. I’ve been a Carolina Panthers fan since the team came to our state when I was a teen. My husband grew up outside of Denver, following the Broncos’ every heartbreaking Super Bowl loss with a framed and signed John Elway jersey on his wall. That was before he got to do highlights of his team winning the big game his first year as a sportscaster. Years later, he would marry me and live in North Carolina. He happily adopted the Panthers as his NFC team, and I embraced the Broncos as my AFC team. Oh, I can’t forget a key part of this. My husband graduated from Auburn University. We all know Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a Heisman winning Auburn alumni.
Truly our Super Bowl.
We promised our friends we would just buy food and not cook anything. We pleaded with them to give us another chance after the poisoning. They shared our excitement for “our Super Bowl” and packed our living room with smiling faces wearing Panthers blue. My husband wore his Broncos jersey under his Panthers jersey. He was in enemy territory, after all.
The kids cheered and begged for Panthers noses and whiskers. I gave my son’s old infant Newton jersey to our friend’s new baby to wear for the game. We took turns snuggling him between wrangling children. Like all Americans we shared beer and wings while scratching our heads over Mountain Dew’s “Puppy, Baby, Monkey” commercial. We awarded this year’s Fantasy champ our league’s trophy. It’s a bra with tassel pasties on a box spray painted gold. True story. Our friends left and my husband comforted me, promising our young team would be back in a few years. I know he’s right.
Wednesday we got a box at the door. My father-in-law sent my husband a championship hat and t-shirt. He kindly didn’t send youth sizes to my children. I appreciate that. The sting is still there. I really thought the Panthers would win.
As silly as I feel being upset about this game, I feel I’m justified. This wasn’t just a game. It was our teams in the Super Bowl. I guess I’m also saying it’s never just football.
It’s seeing my husband feel like he can’t lose.
It’s dressing up my kids who can’t wait to see their friends in the same colors.
It’s forgiving friends willing to laugh with us.
It’s a father surprising his son with a thoughtful gift.
I don’t care if football is America’s guilty pleasure. It’s more than just a game.