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Other stories filed under Editorial
February 2, 2017
It is hard to deny that for the majority of NFL fans, the New England Patriots are poised as the villain in this year’s Super Bowl LI, yet for New Orleans Saints fans it may be hard to root against them.
The New England Patriots have had a series of scandals and cheating allegations against them. Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady found himself suspended by NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell for the first four games of this past season after being held responsible for his knowledge of several deflated footballs used by the Patriots during the American Football Conference Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.
Tom Brady is no doubt angry about the suspension, as he posted the highest passer rating of his career this season. The sight of Goodell handing Brady the Lombardi Trophy and potentially his record-setting fourth Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award is a sight many NFL fans are terrified to see.
On top of the outright hate for Brady and the controversies surrounding New England, the Patriots are headed to an NFL record ninth Super Bowl, while their opponents, the Atlanta Falcons, are going to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years and are still looking for their first ever championship win.
Even with the eighth-highest scoring offense in NFL history, the Atlanta Falcons have remained the underdogs to the widely hated New England Patriots. It is a popular and acceptable practice for sports fans to cheer for the underdog in a championship game, especially when that lower rated team is playing the New England Patriots.
Everything surrounding the Patriots has given nearly every football fan outside of Massachusetts a reason to cheer for the Falcons, except for Saints fans.
The bad blood between the Saints and Falcons, historically one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries, can be traced back to the Saints’ inception in New Orleans, where they beat the Falcons in 1967 for their first ever game in the city. The two teams then became part of the same division in 1970, where they were then able to play each other twice a year.
More recently, the Falcons defeated New Orleans on both of their match ups this season, games that at the time could have been influential in the Saints’ playoff chances. After those two wins, the Falcons secured a lead of 51 wins in the rivalry over the Saints’ 45.
This second Super Bowl appearance for Atlanta has almost given them total bragging rights over New Orleans, except for the Saints’ sole Super Bowl win in 2009. While the Falcons have one more Super Bowl appearance than the Saints, New Orleans fans have still held out hope their rivals will fall short and return home without a single Lombardi Trophy to their name.
New Orleans Saints fans have more justifiable reasons over those of any others in the NFL to not only root against the Super Bowl team representing their conference, but to cheer on the universally disliked New England Patriots. For New Orleans sports fans, not enough scandals and record-breaking performances could exist to make them root for the Atlanta Falcons.