Appealing as this year's NFL Super Bowl matchup is—Patriot revenge, Giant resurgence, Brady legacy—it cannot and will not prevent me from me imagining the savory big-game matchups that could have been.
So what if the playoff gods did not deem them worthy? My mind can compensate for what reality fails to provide.
We're talking Harbaughs, Rodgers, Brees and the other alternate universes that never intersected with our own.
So basically we're talking wormholes...and football.
As you'll no doubt discover in the next two weeks, rematches make for great hype.
But a rematch of last year's Super Bowl in the most volatile American sports league?
The media machine would blow a fuse trying to keep pace. We're talking regular rematch hype raised to the nth power.
Two proud franchises, two all-timers at quarterback, the second of a two-game series on America's biggest stage—it would have been one hell of a game.
As our volatile NFL would have it, neither conference champion from a year ago won a single game in this year's playoffs. Football, we know well, doesn't care for best-laid plans.
I have no interest seeing either of these teams in the Super Bowl if they aren't playing each other.
All the self-appointed football purists can shove it—defense isn't sexy. I want my Super Bowl sexy.
And you know what's sexy?
Two brothers locked in the battle of their professional lives, grappling for a place atop football's highest peak.
Ok, wait...I didn't mean "sexy" so much as...well...
Forget it, you know what I mean.
Jim Harbaugh versus John Harbaugh would send the intrigue meter through the roof and inspire some sweet, soft-focus features about their family vacations.
Though the actual game would reek of defense and check-downs, the emotional build-up would be well worth the in-game ugly.
It wouldn't have been pleasant, but some sick part of me wants to know how big Tebowmania could have grown.
Would ESPN have devoted an entire day to Tebow?
Would GOP presidential candidates have openly courted his endorsement?
Would the Lord himself have descended from the heavens, fitted in an orange-and-blue beer helmet?
No images do justice to whatever madness this matchup would have wrought.
Tebow's David versus Aaron Rodgers' Goliath would have been holy chaos, a sort of sporting zealotry this country has never seen.
For our own sanity, perhaps it's better this game didn't materialize, if only to prevent Skip Bayless from saying things.
It wouldn't have been the prettiest game, but I have a soft spot for title games where neither team has ever won a championship (see World Cup 2010).
Besides we would have gotten to see T.J. Yates...
I mean, think about watching John Abraham...
Never mind. This game would have been awful.
Still, it's cool to see new teams and new cities get a taste of title pie.
Professional football is entertainment, the Super Bowl is its highest form, and no game would have been more entertaining than the Green Bay Packers versus the New England Patriots.
Great quarterbacks, terrible defenses and a scoreboard calibrated for triple digits. Sounds awesome.
Some fans will tell you they'd rather see great defense than great offense.
They are lying, both to you and themselves.
Given no rooting interest, it's always more compelling to watch score after score rather than punt after punt.
Admitting that doesn't violate some holy doctrine of football purity. Dick Butkus won't crawl out of an air vent and steal your manhood.
Aaron Rodgers versus Tom Brady in a battle for aerial prowess and historical pecking order would make for great television. And if it doesn't leave 20 players concussed, I can live with that.
Take everything from the last slide, replace "Packers" with "Saints" and we're up to speed.
This would have been one of those "sign of the times" games—two potent offenses, two great quarterbacks, three charters members of the tight end revolution every NFL expert seems to embrace.
And when the focus wasn't on offense, it would have fallen on the dueling legacies of Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Brady would be playing for a place as the greatest quarterback in NFL history (he still is) and Brees would look to cement his spot alongside Louis Armstrong in New Orleans' pantheon of cultural heroes.
Oh, and did I mention the offense? There would have been tons and tons of glorious offense.