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Should Bears fans root against Patriots or Giants?

Updated: March 7, 2012 9:49AM

For fans with no deep-rooted affiliation with the Giants or the Patriots, it wasn’t easy picking a team to root for in the Super Bowl, or “The Big Game” as it’s called by advertisers that want to do Super Bowl promotions but aren’t officially tied to the Super Bowl and don’t want to get stomped by the Super Bowl Attorneys.

When the Packers were in the Super Bowl last year, many Bears fans cheered against Green Bay. “If the Bears can’t be there, the next best thing is seeing the f------ Packers lose!” That sort of thing.

I don’t play for the Bears, so I don’t say “we” when I refer to the Bears, and I don’t have a particular hatred for one group of athletes representing a city from which none of them hail — but hey, such are sports rivalries. They’re intense and passionate and upon further review pretty silly.

So. Pats and Giants. Goliath vs. Goliath. Not an underdog in sight.

You’ve got Tom Brady and his supermodel wife, who last week was asking the universe to pray for her hubby and his teammates. The universe replied: “We’ve got hungry babies and sick kids to worry about, so we’ll get to you in a century or so.”

Then there’s Eli Manning and the Giants, who are from NEW YORK (boooooo!), and I hate New York because I’m from Chicago and the next best thing to the Bears being in the Super Bowl is seeing a team from New York lose —

A cold move

Just kidding. But Manning and the Giants already have a Super Bowl ring. And it’s not as if New York or Boston/Foxboro have suffered through a championship shortage.

So who to root for? Or maybe the question should be, who to root against?

For some previously neutral fans, the pendulum swung last Saturday, when Patriots cut wide receiver Tiquan Underwood less than 24 hours before kickoff. Cold!

Your first reaction is to wonder if it was a disciplinary move, but by all accounts it was a football decision. Underwood, the little-used wide receiver with the Patriots logo in his haircut, was let go so New England could add defensive lineman Alex Silvestro. (As devastated as Underwood was, imagine the reaction in the Silvestro family when they learned their guy was suiting up for the Big Game.)

The most heartless big stage move in pro sports history? Maybe not, but close. (After Oakland A’s second baseman Mike Andrews committed two errors in Game Two of the 1973 World Series, A’s owner Charlie O. Finley had Andrews sign an affidavit saying his shoulder was injured so Finley could release him. After Andrews’ teammates and manager protested, Major League Baseball ordered Andrews reinstated later in the Series. Andrews had one more at-bat in the Series and never played baseball again.)

Underwood was all grace and class on Twitter. A sampling:

“Good luck to the New England organization, the coaches and all my teammates.”

“This is nothing but MOTIVATION.”

“I been thru a lot but there are ppl in this world with more serious problems so I can’t hang the head. Thank you Lord. #blessed.”

“Thank you to everyone supporting me ... to those happy about what happened, God Bless U.”

This might end up being the best thing that happened to Underwood. He wouldn’t have played much in the Super Bowl anyway. If the Pats win, he still gets a ring. More important is the way in which he handled the crushing disappointment. It could lead to talk show appearances, feature articles, speaking gigs. Underwood could do a “Dealing with Adversity” speech that starts off with one of the best anecdotes this side of Ken Mattingly relating how he was removed from the Apollo 13 mission three days before launch because he’d been exposed to German measles, which he never contracted.

Mattingly did eventually get to the moon, on Apollo 16. No matter which team Tiquan Underwood lands with, you can’t help but hope he gets another chance with a Super Bowl team, and he actually has the opportunity to take the field this time.

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