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Super Bowl: Time to pick a team to cheer? Good luck

A banner decorating a pedestrian footbridge in Atlanta touts the matchup for Sunday's Super Bowl. But neither New England nor Los Angeles is all that lovable, leaving fans across the country wondering who to cheer. [AP PHOTO]

A banner decorating a pedestrian footbridge in Atlanta touts the matchup for Sunday's Super Bowl. But neither New England nor Los Angeles is all that lovable, leaving fans across the country wondering who to cheer. [AP PHOTO]

This Super Bowl may well be a classic.

Let's see, you've got a pair of supremely skilled quarterbacks. You've got extraordinarily talented head coaches. You've got arguably the game's best running back, the game's best defender and the game's best gotta-make-a-play-here pass catcher.

Aren't you excited for this?

Eh. Yeah, me neither.

Even with all the firepower in this matchup, we have no one to cheer. The problem is, neither of these teams is the least bit lovable. Not New England. Not Los Angeles. Live outside Beantown and Tinseltown, and you are as excited about watching this game as doing your taxes.

Patriots vs. Rams.


New England is Public Enemy No. 1. One of sports' most successful franchises is also currently its most hated.

The reasons are many. Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. Tom Brady. All those Super Bowl appearances, nine in the 2000s. Tom Brady. All those Super Bowl wins, five in the 2000s. Tom Brady. The smugness of Patriot fans. Tom Brady. The cheating.

And did I mention Tom Brady?

Listen, the disdain for the New England quarterback isn't because of his play. He's still magnificent at 41 years old. But he's annoying. Annoyingly perfect. He's got the model wife. The cleft-chin, beard-scruff good looks. The super-restrictive diet he follows to the letter.

The guy doesn't drink coffee or eat sweets.

I have hard time trusting anyone who doesn't need an occasional Starbucks or Snickers.

Brady and the Patriots are darn near impossible to love — but the Rams aren't all that cuddly either. And it's not because Los Angeles is in the Super Bowl after perhaps the most egregious no-call in the history of sport. As bad as that was, the Rams are prickly because of their smarmy owner.

Stan Kroenke moved the franchise a couple years ago, and while he's not the first owner to relocate, the particulars of the deal call into question his humanity.

In 2015, Kroenke essentially strong-armed the league into letting him move the Rams, not the Raiders, to an incredibly lavish stadium in the L.A. suburb of Inglewood. It was a two-by-four to the head of Inglewood (hello, huge tax bill!), the Raiders (they thought they were moving!) and St. Louis.

St. Louis still owes tens of millions of dollars on a now-empty stadium. Then as one final kick to the solar plexus, Kroenke wrote in his application for relocation the city was basically unworthy of a team and the league would be harmed if it put one there.

Folks in St. Louis are still so mad about it that a chain of sports bars there has put pictures of Kroenke on its urinal screens. Yep, people can pee on his face.

So, again, who exactly are we supposed to cheer in this Super Bowl?

I'm not going to try to tell you what side to pick, but I'll leave you with a couple of stories.

First is the tale of Obi Melifonwu. He grew up less than an hour from his favorite NFL team. He dreamed as a kid of playing for them, maybe even going to the Super Bowl with them.

He was drafted by the Raiders in 2017, but when they cut him in the middle of the 2018 season, Melifonwu thought his NFL career might be over.

Then in November, New England signed him, and now, the safety who grew up in Grafton, Mass., is off to the Super Bowl.

Childhood dream realized.

Pretty cool.

The second story is cool, too. It involves a man named Alfonso. He's a janitor in Los Angeles, a blue-collar worker who holds a job that often goes unnoticed.

But Rams receiver Brandin Cooks noticed Alfonso and the pride he had in cleaning the team's locker room and facility. So even though Cooks has turned down ticket requests from lots of people, he decided to give Alfonso two of his Super Bowl tickets in addition to providing all of his travel expenses.

The two teams aren't entirely loathsome — you just have to look a little harder for a little something to love.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›