Wearing my satiny orange Denver Broncos jersey in the privacy ofmy living room, I cheered for Peyton Manning and all that he represents.
They said he was too old, broke down and past his prime to win against the Patriots. They were wrong. All season, they said his fragile neck bones could break like dry spaghetti with a single sack. Didn’t happen. I’ve liked the Broncos for years but I can’t tell anybody that now because I live in North Carolina, where “Keep pounding!” has replaced “Y’all come back now” as a friendly conversation closer.
So. What to do? Hide my Broncos jersey, which wasn’t cheap even years ago, and pretend to be a Panther diehard? Forsake my beloved Broncos just because the locals got lucky? Maybe.
As soon as the Panthers beat the Cardinals, I went into full-on existential crisis mode. Also the kitchen where there was just enough of that gooey dip with Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes left. God, I love football.
Even my close friends don’t know about my Broncos devotion. It has been a deeply private pursuit for many years. My fondness for Denver predates the Tim Tebow timeline. While I liked the prayerful QB fine, I have never been completely comfortable when any player’s post-game interview starts by thanking the Creator for the win. You just slammed somebody’s face into the dirt for fun and profit for three hours.
It ain’t noble; it’s football.
WWJD if faced with having to switch sides out of sheer geographic loyalty and certain inclusion in Panther parties where there will almost certainly be chipotle wings. It’s hypocritical to pull for the Panthers, although I’ve never disliked them and admire how Cam Newton always gives the football to the kid instead of some hairy grownup who will sell it on Craigslist of Perverts.
I even enjoy his trademark touchdown celebration dance, this, how you say, “dab”?
In contrast, Peyton can’t “dab.” He is the antithesis of cool but recognizes that and unwittingly becomes cool in the process. His hosting turn on “SNL” produced one of the funniest non-Timberlake episodes ever. Check it out on the YouTube. The man has terrific comic timing.
Of course, there’s more to football than the quarterback. So, back to the question at hand. Does being a native North Carolinian mean that I have to switch sides? Will I, and Panther-loyal Duh Hubby, be banished from local parties to seek solace at the nearest multi-screen sports bar to watch the game?
Ours is a mixed marriage on this point. Also approximately 753 other points but time and space prohibit a full discussion.
Perhaps my Super Bowl dilemma defines the expression “first world problems” more than just about any other I can think of. I’ve devoted way too much time to fretting about this and so, as the coaches always say when asked about this-or-that injured player: “It will be a game-day decision.”
All I know for sure? There is no “I” in Velveeta.
Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.