Election 2012: If Super Bowl XLVI Were Decided by the Fans

Russell Puntenney@@RussPuntContributor IIIFebruary 1, 2012

If there are two things Americans love, they're football and voting.

Well it’s election year, it’s primary season and guess what?

It’s also time for the Super Bowl, America’s favorite unofficial national holiday (sorry, “No Pants Day”).

What better way to celebrate both occurrences than by engaging in another of America’s favorite practices – unnecessarily combining two passions into one epic travesty of instant gratification (see “Denny’s”)?

Today we’ll examine just what the weekend ahead might look like if the outcome of the Super Bowl were left entirely up to you, the fans, rather than being decided by the tired, traditional method of seeing which team plays better for a few hours on one measly Sunday evening.

This is the biggest moment in sports, after all, and the Super Bowl champion is, in many ways, a reflection of all of us.

Consider the staggering economic and social impact surrounding the big game. The massive worldwide audience. All the impressionable children watching at home.

There’s clearly a whole lot more at stake on Super Bowl Sunday than just some gaudy jewelry and a year’s worth of bragging rights, so why should anything be left to chance?

You’re right, it shouldn’t be, and today’s your chance to make it right.

This year, let’s make sure our Super Bowl champion is a People’s champion, too.

Listen closely as each team pleads their case, consider your options carefully, then cast your vote below.

It’s the American way!


New England Patriots

Motto: Because it just feels right

Platform: “America needs a Super Bowl champion with experience, a team that understands the value of hard work. The Patriots are that team. These guys are proven winners, they’re self-made, and they are the direct result of a series of smart decisions. They’re living proof that if you work hard and stay disciplined, you can achieve any goal you set. A vote for New England is a vote for common sense. Cast yours today!”


Intelligence – The Patriots don’t just beat their opponents, they outsmart them too. On the field, off the field, on Draft Day, on game day, and every day in between.

You don’t compete for a title every year for a decade straight in this day and age without making some shrewd moves along the way, and New England has made more than their fair share of them over the years.

Intensity – The Patriots bring it full force every play week no matter where they are, who they’re playing, or what the score may happen to be. You could line these guys up against a pack of newborn babies for all it matters, nothing’s going to change.

They’re coming hard and they’re coming strong and you better be ready if you know what’s good for you.

Focus – New England doesn’t just play smart, they keep their eyes on the prize. They understand how the game works. They don’t get rattled when they lose. They never run their mouths.

They don’t make dumb mistakes, and they always show up for the playoffs prepared, conditioned, and determined to win.

Why They Should Win:

They’ve Been Here Before – Charlie Sheen is wrong: If you look up the word “winner” in the dictionary, you won’t find him. You’ll find a picture of Tom Brady polishing his rings standing next to his super model wife in front of a giant mansion (with Bill Belichick standing just over his shoulder, quietly scowling).

The Patriots have an impeccable record when it comes to winning championships, and they play the role as well as anyone.

They look like champions. They play like champions.

They’re an elite NFL team every single season, and it’s easy to picture them as champions again this time around.    

They’ve Beaten Virtually Everyone – The 2011 Patriots are 15-3 so far but the core of this team has seen a lot more action than that.

Tom Brady is one of just three quarterbacks in NFL history to have beaten all 31 other teams over his career, for example, while Bill Belichick, the unquestioned ringleader of this perennial juggernaut, has beaten all of them, including the Pats, which he defeated while in his first head coaching position with Cleveland in the early 90’s.

Many teams have triumphed in select battles against the Pats over the past decade.

None of them can say they’ve won the war.

You Respect Them (Whether You Admit It or Not) – The Patriots are an easy team to dislike. They know it and you know it.

No matter how you feel about them personally, however, you’d be insane not to admire what this franchise has accomplished.

Five Super Bowl appearances in 11 seasons, are you kidding? Has a more intimidating team ever been fielded? These guys are still only four seasons removed from the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history, and right now they’re only two weeks removed from the most explosive half of playoff football anybody’s ever seen.

If you were a coach, who would you fear more, the Giants or the Pats? Is it even a question?

What Their Critics Say:

They’re Insiders – Well this is just perfect. Another year, another Super Bowl berth for the New England Patriots. What else is new?

Americans are tired of seeing the same old teams dominate year in and year out and when it comes to stuffing your team’s success down the throat of every other fan base, the Patriots are public enemy No. 1.

Don’t let 2012 go down as just another bullet point in New England’s already excessive championship resume. It’s high time this dynasty just up and died already.

How many Super Bowls does one franchise need, anyway? One for each finger? Enough’s enough.     

They’re Shady – Yes, the Patriots have skillfully built themselves a championship caliber team and yes, they have successfully maintained it for years on end like few before them ever have.

Big deal.

If the Pats are such a model organization, why does controversy seem to follow them everywhere they go? Remember the “Tuck Rule?” The allegations of illegal contact in the ’03 playoffs? Of course you remember “Spygate?”

The Patriots are a great team. One of the greatest. But with their history of questionable ethics and the mysterious nature with which they’ve always approached the game, it’s clear this team is not the kind of representative you want to see hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when all’s said and done.

NFL fans deserve better than this. America deserves better. This Super Bowl Sunday, make the choice you can still live with the morning after and say N-O to N-E!   

They Have No Class – Being good is one thing, but blatantly flaunting your prowess purely for your own self-glorification? That’s another story altogether.

The Patriots chase records just as fiercely as they do championships.  How else do you go 16-0? How else do you break the all-time single season touchdown records for the quarterback, wide receiver and tight end positions all in a span of just four years?

If the NFL is a high school, New England is its pompous class bully that nobody likes. They’re good at everything they do, they have no problem rubbing it in if they beat you and, if they really dislike like you on a personal level, they might just throw a swirly in right at the end there for good measure.

Where’s the honor in these clowns? Where’s the respect? The humility? Yes, we want our Super Bowl champion to be the best. But is it too much to ask that they not be egotistical jerks too?


Key Endorsements: Denis Leary, Peter Griffin, Birdman



New York Giants

Motto:  For the underdog in us all

Platform:A No. 4 seed, the New York Giants represent the 66% of playoff teams that don’t receive the luxury of a first round bye. The Giants have proven themselves just as much as New England this post-season. They already knocked off both the No. 1 and No. 2 NFC seeds, which was the superior conference in 2011, and they beat both of them on the road. The Giants play best when it matters most and in the NFL, that’s the only thing that matters at all! Elect New York your Super Bowl champion today. They are the 66%!”


Perseverance – The Giants are a team that looks better in action than it does on paper, and it’s all because of one defining characteristic: the ability to show up in the fourth quarter.

New York has seven come-from-behind victories this season and has already engineered one of the most epic comebacks in Super Bowl history against this very same Patriots team four years ago.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning led the league with 15 fourth quarter touchdown passes this season and he finished with the second best overall QB rating during the period, too. With Manning leading the way the Giants are that rare somehow-still-under-the-radar contender who can go toe-to-toe with anyone if you just give them a full 60 minutes to do so.




Does that sound like a champion or what?

Passion – Both teams want the same outcome on Super Bowl Sunday, but they want it for entirely different reasons. For the Patriots, this Super Bowl is a date with destiny. Dynasties and legends are at stake here. Pretty heavy stuff.

For the Giants, on the other hand, this is about as close to “just another game” as a Super Bowl matchup possibly could be. The Giants have nothing to lose in this one.

They’ve already upset the Pats on this stage before, nobody expected them to be here again and as recently as Jan. 1, it still wasn’t guaranteed these guys would even be in the playoffs.

This team isn’t playing for the records. They’re just having fun out there, enjoying the game for what it is and trying to win just because that’s how the game is played. Shouldn’t that also be how the champion is crowned?

Hope – For a team that just won the Super Bowl four years ago and has gone 9-5 in the playoffs since 2000, the Giants are not your typical NFL underdogs. They have elite talent in several key positions, plenty of experience and a veteran coach.

In order to reach the big game, they first had to beat three teams with better regular season records than their own, and two of them they beat on the road. And yet, here we are.

The Patriots are favored in this one, just like the Packers and 49ers before them and just like they, too, were back in 2008, when the Giants shocked the world and won Super Bowl XLII against seemingly possible odds. Is it possible the G-Men can somehow sneak up on these guys again?

With your vote and support, yes they can!

Why They Should Win:

The Game Will Be More Interesting – A vote for the Giants is a vote for worldwide must-see television, the likes of which have not been seen since, well, probably since the last time the Giants beat the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

The Giants rarely dominate an opponent from start to finish, and if they win Super Bowl XLVI, rest assured they won’t have the victory locked up until well into the fourth quarter.

The Giants are showmen. Entertainers. Artists. If you vote them as your champion, you know you’ll be getting one fantastic finish on Sunday, while those ruthless Patriots are just as likely to have the thing settled by halftime as they are on its final, breathless play.

We all know how rapidly our collective attention spans are shrinking in this fast-paced modern world, after all, so why not do ourselves a favor and try to make this game as thrilling as possible?

Vote New York.          

They’re Fun to Root For –The Giants are a team any sports fan can appreciate, and not just because they’ve been able to win so many big games in recent years.

The Giants steal our hearts because they’re a team that didn’t develop overnight. They grew into their current roles, and we all watched it happen, from the days when Eli Manning’s leadership was publicly questioned to Plaxico Burress’s infamous self-inflicted gunshot wound to the thousands of highs and lows between.


Today they’re fully blossomed into a battle-tested, high-flying conference juggernaut and even though they still show glimpses of the hopeless misfits they once were every now and then, it’s clear after this post-season they’ve learned from each struggle they’ve faced and have only grown stronger as a result.

Exciting, explosive and utterly fearless, the Giants are the champions we all strive to be in each of our lives. Why settle for anything less in our Super Bowl champion?

They’re Not the Patriots – The Giants aren’t just an easy team to root for, they also happen to not be the New England Patriots. Which, for many fan bases, is actually a huge plus.

It’s no secret the Patriots have made some enemies across the league during their rise to the top of the heap, and for many NFL fans, holding a grudge against New England for ruining their team’s championship aspirations at some point is as much a part of football as your basic forward pass.

The Patriots fuel themselves on that disdain, but other teams can use it to their advantage, too.

Remember how great you felt four years ago when the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots and Bill Belichick stormed off the field like a little crybaby? Remember how awesome that moment felt, simply because it was the Patriots who lost? Could any other NFL team affect you so deeply simply by losing?

The answer is no, so this Super Bowl Sunday, let’s party like it’s 2008 all over again! Vote New York this year’s Super Bowl winners, for old time’s sake! 

What Their Critics Say:

They Flip-Flop – Good one game, horrible the next, just who are the real New York Giants anyway? Does anybody know?

One week they can’t be stopped, the next they can’t get anything going no matter how hard they try. How can we elect as our Super Bowl champion a team that’s just as likely to stomp an elite team as they are to totally blow it against some hopeless bottom-feeder?

The NFL champion needs to maintain a certain level of consistency, not simply turn it on when the time is right. The champion should be feared week in and week out, whether it’s February, September or whenever. The Giants are not that champion. 

They Don’t Belong Here – Do we really want to select a 9-7 regular season team as our champion? How legitimate does that sound?

Nine teams finished with a better record than the Giants this season. Three of their losses were to two teams in their own division (neither of them finished with a winning record) and that’s in a division they won by just one measly game.

If the Giants are the best, what does that say about the 5-11 Washington Redskins, who went 2-0 against them this season? Or the New Orleans Saints, who went 13-3 and whooped the G-Men 49-23 in Week 12?

Don’t settle for a subpar champion this Super Bowl Sunday. This time, let’s all finally put the Giants in their place: Second place.

Manning Overload – If you’re not a fan of either Super Bowl participant this year, what do you care who wins? It’s not like your team has a chance to hoist the trophy at the end, now is it? Why even vote then?

Here’s why: The Super Bowl champion affects the entire league and, even if you scrape away all the influence and prestige it bestows upon the victor, just stop and think about all the attention it produces, attention you will inevitably encounter for much of the year ahead if you follow the NFL with even moderate frequency.

Translation? If the Patriots win, you get one more year of the same old Tom Brady and Bill Belichick love-fest you’d probably experience anyway. Not exactly an ideal situation, but you at least know how to tolerate it by now. And if the Giants win?

Well then you get to hear the name Manning every second of every day for a year straight. For some folks, that doesn’t sound half bad. For others, it’s a nightmare.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has dominated NFL storylines for about a decade straight now and he’s still not done yet. In fact, right now he might even be stealing more headlines than he ever has before, as the never-ending saga over his injured neck just keeps growing more dramatic by the day. And we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far.

What if he changes teams? Or retires? Can you even comprehend the magnitude of this thing?

Even worse, can you imagine how much bigger the story will become if Eli wins Super Bowl No. 2 (Peyton has only won one), solidifies his position among the best quarterbacks in football and effectively takes the Manning torch from his older brother in the process? Oh the hu-Mann-ity!

Don’t let it happen under your watch. Let your voice be heard this Super Bowl Sunday, and let it ring loud and clear: No more Manning!

Key Endorsements: Peyton Manning , Jay-Z, Billy Crystal


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