What you are about to read might make you sick to your stomach.
But it might also help you come to terms with a harsh truth.
It’s OK, Bills Mafia, to root for Tom Brady to win the Super Bowl. Make no mistake. No one is saying you should. But if you are already leaning in that direction and conflicted and trying to come to grips with this strange feeling, there are a few ways to explain/justify this train of thought. So, let’s try to understand how this could have happened.
Let’s make some sense out of why you, someone who has hated Brady with every fiber of your being for 20 years, might pull for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upset the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
1. It’s the best story
Brady, 43, is playing in the Super Bowl for an unprecedented 10th time in 21 seasons and is looking for his seventh ring. That’s beyond incredible, but even more so, considering he’s made it back in his first season since his divorce from the New England Patriots, with virtually all new teammates, a new coach and despite the Covid-19 pandemic wiping out offseason workouts and the preseason.
Only three other quarterbacks in NFL history have led multiple franchises to the big game: Craig Morton, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning.
Only Morton had won a championship in both the AFC and NFC. He lost both Super Bowl appearances.
Only Manning has started and won a Super Bowl for multiple franchises.
Brady can become the first to do so for a team in each conference.
And you can root for the greatest of all time without the burden of pulling for the Evil Empire.
"The Bills ranked 14th in sacks per pass attempt. Not bad. But it should have been better," writes Mark Gaughan.
2. Patriots schadenfreude
Taking joy in another’s misfortune is an admittedly ugly emotion, but just imagine Bill Belichick right now.
Tell me that doesn’t make you smile.
For years, football fans have questioned whether the true genius behind the Patriots’ dynasty was Belichick or Brady. It was certainly a combination of the two.
But the Patriots just went 7-9 for their first losing record in two decades.
They were swept by the Bills and knocked from their longtime perch atop the AFC East.
And The Hooded One has to watch his former quarterback lead another team to the Super Bowl.
3. He’s the underdog
The Chiefs dismantled the Bills in the AFC championship game, and while it might be nice to think that Buffalo’s longest playoff run in a generation was ended by the eventual Super Bowl champs, how much does that really soothe the pain?
Kansas City is the best team in the conference. It’s not particularly close. And Patrick Mahomes, who already has a Super Bowl title and NFL MVP award to his credit, is only 25 years old.
Win or lose on Sunday, the Chiefs are going to be a problem for a long, long time.
And the oddsmakers believe they’ll win, installing K.C. as a three-point favorite against the Bucs.
Brady hasn’t been an underdog in the Super Bowl since his first appearance in 2002, when he and the Patriots shocked The Greatest Show on Turf.
The Bucs are the No. 5 seed in the NFC and had to win three road games to reach this point, first defeating Washington, then beating Drew Brees in the Superdome and finally Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field. They were dogs in each of the last two games.
Tampa Bay is the fourth wild-card team since 1990 to make the Super Bowl, joining the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2007 New York Giants and 2010 Green Bay Packers, all of which won.
The Buffalo Bills’ wide receiving corps had a season for the decades in 2020.
4. Root, root, root for the home team
The Bucs are the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium, which, by the way, has a pirate ship with firing cannons.
However, they are not the first to play a Super Bowl in their home market.
The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Steelers at the Rose Bowl in Super Bowl XIV and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins at Stanford Stadium in Super Bowl XIX.
The Packers are the last franchise to play the league’s championship game at their own stadium. Green Bay beat the Cleveland Browns in the 1965 NFL championship game at Lambeau Field.
A year later, the Packers beat the Chiefs at the Los Angeles Coliseum in what was retroactively called Super Bowl I.
Similar to Brady, it’s a chance to pull for the local guy without having to cheer for the Patriots.
Rob Gronkowski, the future Hall of Fame tight end from Williamsville, said he had nine surgeries and an estimated 20 concussions in his nine seasons with New England before stepping away from the game after the 2018 season.
But the three-time Super Bowl champ came out of retirement to join Brady with the Bucs.
Gronkowski, 31, had 45 catches for 625 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season.
He said he’ll wait until the offseason to decide whether he’ll return next season.
There’s little chance Brady steps away. He’s long said he intends to play until he’s at least 45 years old, and has another year and $25 million remaining on his contract.
But upending the Chiefs at home in the Super Bowl while sticking it to the Patriots would be an amazing way to go out.
Is it too much to root for that, too?