| 03.18.2018

A divided nation — Fans from anywhere can find a reason to cheer for, or against, a team in the Super Bowl


On Sunday, most of America tuned in to watch one of the biggest televised events of the year.

While the 51st Super Bowl did not provide a regional connection for those living in the Northwest, there was no shortage of opinions when it came to team preferences.

The New England Patriots might be one of the most divisive teams in the NFL. However, even in Moscow, devoted fans for New England can still be found.

Jake Jermyn, a New England native, knows all too well about dealing with the hatred for the Patriots. Jermyn is a member of Theta Chi Fraternity at the University of Idaho. He said, eventually, he learned to thrive on the jeers.

“It feeds me,” Jermyn said. “I love it.”

Jermyn said he is a diehard New England fan, seeing as he lived in in the area until he was 14. He said in the eastern U.S., public opinion of the Patriots is very different, especially regarding quarterback Tom Brady.

“For me, I grew up where everyone loved him,” Jermyn said. “People idolized him. It was, ‘I want to be Tom Brady when I grow up.’”

Fellow Patriots fan Matt Sweeney may not be from the Northeast, but he too stands by his team.

“My brother was a Patriots fan, and I just grew up watching them,” he said.

Both Sweeney and Jermyn said the Patriots’ scandals did not bother them. Sweeney said New England would still have won the AFC championship game against Indianapolis, because the margin of victory was so large.

Meanwhile, Jermyn said researchers from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology deduced that the air pressure in the footballs would have minimal impact on a quarterback’s ability to throw.

On the other side of the ball, Atlanta Falcons fans are even harder to find in Moscow. While the Falcons have never been a perennial contender in the NFL, their recent rise to dominance, led by quarterback and league MVP Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, gathered several fans.

Most of the fans cheering on the Falcons also wished to see the demise of the Patriots, whether it be because of the shady activities of the organization or the four Super Bowl championships previously won by the team since 2002.

Kalene Bataluna said too many wins by the Patriots was enough for her to cheer for Atlanta.

“I went for the Falcons because they were considered the underdog of the two,” she said. “The Patriots were too mainstream, I’m not a bandwagon, so I went for the opposite.”

The game itself proved to be dramatic. Brady led the Patriots from the largest deficit in Super Bowl history and became the only NFL quarterback to win five championships.

Early on in the game, Jermyn voiced his frustrations. But once it became clear that the Patriots would seal a comeback win, he had nothing but positive things to say about his team.

When tailback James White battled his way into the end zone for the final touchdown, both Jermyn and Sweeney exploded in celebration. Bataluna, on the other hand, was not so thrilled and said she was upset with the outcome.

After the excitement calmed down and the celebrations subsided, Jermyn had only one thought on his mind.

“What did I say?” he said. “Diehard.”

Brandon Hill can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill

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