Super Bowl? Just Super Uninterested

With seconds left on the game clock, I glanced around a sports bar filled with high-fiving 49ers fans on Sunday afternoon. There were a few dejected members of the Falcons faithful, too. Either way, everyone seemed passionate about what was going down in the Georgia Dome. But for some reason, I just couldn’t muster up much emotion either way.

Sure, I cheer when the Falcons do well, when Matt Ryan throws a gorgeous pass straight into Julio Jones’ hands. It’s a nice moment – but honestly? After the game I don’t really care all that much.

I’m NFL apathetic.

This is in complete contrast to my personality during the college season. I’m never indifferent about anything related to the SEC. Mention Steve Spurrier, and I’ll instantly spew vitriol. But Jim Harbaugh? Uhhhh … well … I got nothing.

I feel especially guilty about this at the dawn of the season and the week before the Super Bowl each year. If I love college football so much, how is it possible for that interest not to extend to the pro version? How do I explain to friends that Fantasy Football sounds like a complete drag? That I’d really rather be watching Downton Abbey next Sunday?

I find myself wanting to scream, “I swear I love football. I just don’t love *this kind* of football.”

It’s easy to attribute my apathy to being raised outside of a passionate NFL fan base. That friends raised in Dallas and Chicago and Wisconsin have picked this up because of life-long exposure. And I’ll admit that same kind of tradition is definitely the root of my love for SEC ball.

But my father usually watched or listened to Falcons games when we were growing up – even when they were truly, undeniably terrible – and took us to see them at Fulton County Stadium and the Georgia Dome several times. My brother was sitting in the club level for last week’s loss. It’s clearly not that NFL interest doesn’t run in the family.

Maybe it’s the ridiculous pageantry that leaves me feeling annoyed and disconnected. Yes, everyone bags on NCAA sports because of all the rules, especially when it comes to questionable unsportsman-like conduct. I agree that there’s not much wrong with a kid doing a little polite celebration after a surprising, great play. But the more I’ve watched pro games this year, the more I understand all this rule-making and what it prevents.

No one wants to watch grown men taunt the hell out of each other. I have one thought when I see a guy making ungodly amounts of cash strike a lewd pose and throw his hands in another player’s face: “I hope that jerk gets eviscerated on the next play.” That’s about as much NFL emotion as I can stir.

It may also be that so many pro personalities turn me off. We’ll hear all about the great retiring Ray Lewis for the next week and nary a mention of his obstruction of justice plea after being connected to two brutal murders in Atlanta. Even though charges weren’t filed against him, I’ll never think Ben Roethlisberger is anything other than dirty. Meanwhile, no one needed to give Michael Vick a second thought, let alone a second chance.

Even the so-called good guys gross me out.Tom Brady is a crybaby. Peyton Manning is smug. Tebow … well, I’ll do you a solid and cut off my traditional rant at this: Once a Gator, always a Gator.

Watching NFL constantly reminds me of the true tragedies associated with it, too. Those concussions that will haunt good men into their old age. The mental illnesses that don’t get intervention. (Read our column on that topic here.)

None of this is to say that college football doesn’t face many of the same challenges. But somehow, I just find it easier to stomach.

I thought maybe seeing the Falcons do so well this season could turn around my NFL apathy. It couldn’t. Even if they’d kept that 17-0 lead and beat San Francisco, I don’t think I’d care all that much about Super Bowl XLVII.

At least college kick off is just seven months away.

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