QJ Sports: Super Bowl hate

It’s amazing how much the word “hate” gets thrown around when talking about the NFL.

Super Bowl XLIV — the game’s most recent instalment, played last Sunday in Glendale, Arizona — might as well have been dubbed the “Hate Bowl”.

It’s hard to find two teams who get more animosity directed towards them than the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL champion New England Patriots.

The game’s two quarterbacks were far from the cause of the hatred. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is renowned for his poise, character and charity work.

New England’s Tom Brady has upheld a similar reputation for years. Of course, every star athlete will still have their detractors, but the two are among the sport’s most respected leaders.

But there are other personalities on both sides that drive the hatred.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick employs a permanently cold and unwelcoming approach to nearly everyone in the public sphere, and has been questioned repeatedly for his involvement in various “cheating” scandals.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has had several issues with the media, often repeating the same monotone sentence in press conferences without allowing the possibility of open questions.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, meanwhile, epitomizes every stereotype of a high school jock grown up. Photos of his partying exploits emerge every off-season, and he was recently quoted saying he hasn’t read a book since grade nine.

And then there’s Richard Sherman, leader of the “Legion of Boom” Seahawk defence, who is known for being one of the game’s biggest trash-talkers. Everywhere you look on these teams, it seems you’ll find controversial personalities.

As much as these teams and players are hated, many also love them, too. They’re currently among the league’s most popular teams.

Wilson had the NFL’s highest selling jersey in 2014, while Brady ranked fourth, according to the league.

Lynch has been one of the game’s best running backs for nearly his entire career, and has done tremendous amounts of charity work for underprivileged youth. Belichick is in the conversation for best NFL coach of all time.

Gronkowski has set new standards for tight end play in the NFL, having established single-season records for both receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end in 2011.

Sherman graduated from Stanford University and consistently challenges stereotypes, despite growing up in a city with one of the worst reputations in America: Compton, California.

Twitter and other fan sites were running amok during the Super Bowl, pointing fingers at every error and making fun of any minor mistake.

Sherman’s bewildered reaction to Wilson’s late interception was one such moment, spawning memes, GIFs and Vine videos spread all over social networks.

But no one would care if the players weren’t among the best at their jobs. Both New England and Seattle are fantastic football teams filled with stars.

The hype around the game was bigger than usual because of the personalities involved. And for many people, they’d have preferred nothing more than somehow seeing both teams lose.

That’s the beauty of one of the world’s most violent pastimes. New England’s eventual 28-24 win was one of the most exciting games in the sport’s history, only escalated by the two teams and the personnel involved.

In the words of James Franco’s character Dave Skylark in The Interview: “They hate us, cause they ain’t us.”

Kudos to both teams for providing a spectacle to remember on the sport’s biggest stage.

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