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How do you root in the Super Bowl when the Bears aren’t in it? Jack M Silverstein looks back at the tough choices he’s made in the last 30 years of Super Bowls.

Terrell Davis #30

I’ve made a decision: I am rooting for the Falcons.

In the past 30 years, every Super Bowl except for one has featured two teams not called the Chicago Bears. And every year, I have to decide if I have a rooting interest in the game beyond my own viewing satisfaction.

Sometimes there’s an obvious choice, like John Elway against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Sometimes I like both teams about the same (Rams-Titans, XXXIV), sometimes I have beef with both teams (Packers-Steelers, XLV), and sometimes I’m indifferent and just rooting for a good game (Giants-Patriots, the second one).

Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, there’s an ex-Bear I can root for, most notably last year with Peanut Tillman’s Panthers, a team that also featured Greg Olsen and Ron Rivera.

Here, then, is a complete rundown of the past 30 years of Super Bowls (everything after Super Bowl XX) — who I was rooting for, and how strong an interest I held.

(Apologies in advance if any of the below videos don’t work here. You might have to go to YouTube to watch them. But the story looks better with the embedded videos, whether they play here or not, don’t you agree?)

Super Bowl XXI: Giants vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Broncos

Reason: Bitterness toward the NFC champion due to the Bears shocking upset

Intensity of rooting interest: 7 out of 10

Result: Giants 39, Broncos 20

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score (shoutout to my fellow WCGer Jeff Berckes for this idea): -7

Explanation: I’m cheating here, because I didn’t actually have a rooting interest in a Super Bowl until XXIV, three years later, when I was eight. But I did watch Super Bowl XXI, and if I was astute enough at the time to have a rooting interest, I would have pulled for Denver out of pure bitterness and animosity for the Giants. They didn’t knock us out of the playoffs in ‘86, but they were a rival and were holding what I felt was our rightful place in the big game.

Super Bowl XXII: D.C. vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Broncos

Reason: Same as 1986, though compounded by Washington actually being the team that knocked us out, and did so the year before too

Intensity of rooting interest: 7 out of 10

Result: D.C. 42, Broncos 10

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -14

Explanation: I suspect my rage in ‘87 would have been tempered compared to ‘86 for two reasons, yet would have also been increased for two reasons, so let’s leave it at 7 of 10. Why less rage? First, 1986 prepared us somewhat for 1987. Second, I would have been all in for the potential success of Doug Williams as the first black quarterback in the Super Bowl. Why more rage? First, Washington knocked us out in both ‘86 and ‘87, so I would have been seething about their success. Second, with Walter on his last season and back-to-back knockouts, I suspect the dread would have been creeping in that the end was nigh.

Super Bowl XXIII: 49ers vs. Bengals

Rooting interest: Bengals

Reason: Bitterness from losing the NFC championship at home to San Fran combined with an interest in seeing Cincinnati fans win their first championship since the Big Red Machine in ‘76

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: 49ers 20, Bengals 16

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -18

Explanation: Filled with rage and bitterness in ‘86 and ‘87, I imagine by ‘88 I would have just been gloomy and depressed. A third straight year getting knocked out of the playoffs at Soldier Field, and this time against an alleged “warm weather team” in frigid Chicago conditions.

“Everyone in Chicago was making a big issue of the weather,” 49ers coach Bill Walsh said after his team’s 28-3 win. “But it didn’t bother us. It may have worked in our favor.”

The Tribune suggested games that cold (the wind chill dipped to 30 below) should be re-branded “49er weather”. The ultimate insult.

Super Bowl XXIV: 49ers vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: 49ers

Reason: The massive success of the Niners and the team’s popular players (particularly Montana and Rice)

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -14

Explanation: This was the first Super Bowl where I actually rooted for a team. I was all in for the popular and successful 49ers, as indicated by a drawing I did late in the 4th quarter that showed a grinning Joe Montana lacing a grimacing John Elway with a bullwhip, along with the caption, “The 49ers are whipping the Broncos.” Another element on that piece of paper: a ketchup bottle with a Broncos logo, and a caption, “The Broncos need to catch up.”

Super Bowl XXV: Giants vs. Bills

Rooting interest: Giants

Reason: I was born in New York, so I was rooting for the New York Giants! (Note: this was the game where I found out that Buffalo is in New York.)

Intensity of rooting interest: 5 out of 10

Result: Giants 20, Bills 19

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -9

Explanation: I became a Bills fan the following season (explanation to come), but in January of 1991 I was rooting for the Giants due to our shared New York roots. At a Super Bowl party I told an adult that I was rooting for the Giants because they were from New York, at which point said adult explained to me where Buffalo was.

Super Bowl XXVI: D.C. vs. Bills

Rooting interest: Bills

Reason: I was now a Bills fan and felt bad about the loss the previous season

Intensity of rooting interest: 5 out of 10

Result: D.C. 37, Bills 24

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -14

Explanation: Tecmo Super Bowl was released in December 1991, not long before this game, and was an instant hit among my friends, my brother, and me. I had four teams on Super Tec (as we called it) other than the Bears: Philly was number one, then Houston, then the Bills, then the Giants. Add to the Tec fandom the unearthed New York connection and the desire to erase the previous season’s devastation, and I was all in for Buffalo in XXXVI.

Super Bowl XXVII: Cowboys vs. Bills

Rooting interest: Bills

Reason: Same as the year before, but moreso.

Intensity of rooting interest: 8 out of 10

Result: Cowboys 52, Bills 17

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -22

Explanation: Now a full year and change after the influential release of Super Tec, I was heavy duty into the Eagles, Oilers, and Bills. And since I was continually denied an Eagles-Oilers Super Bowl, I doubled down on my Bills rooting, even though I was on the wrong side of the Bills-Oilers comeback that postseason. Needless to say, this game did not work out how I was hoping.

Super Bowl XXVIII: Cowboys vs. Bills

Rooting interest: Bills

Reason: Same as the year before, but moreso.

Intensity of rooting interest: 9 out of 10

Result: Cowboys 30, Bills 13

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -31

Explanation: I will admit — I was not rooting for the Bills to reach the Super Bowl a fourth straight year. This wasn’t because I was “sick of them,” per se, but rather because I wanted to see Joe Montana’s Chiefs battle Steve Young’s 49ers, the two teams that lost to Dallas and Buffalo in the conference championship games. That didn’t happen, so I was hoping that at the very least, we would have a Bills victory. They led 13-6 at halftime, so my fingers were crossed. And then... James Washington. And that’s all she wrote.

Super Bowl XXIX: 49ers vs. Chargers

Rooting interest: 49ers

Reason: Steve Young + Richard Dent + the ‘94 Bears + Deion + the Niners offense

Intensity of rooting interest: 6 out of 10

Result: 49ers 49, Chargers 26

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -25

Explanation: As noted above, I had a few reasons to root for the 49ers. I felt a great deal of sympathy for Steve Young and the brutal Montana shadow, as well as the beat downs he’d taken against the Cowboys the past two seasons. I thought that a Niners victory could possibly mean offensive fireworks, (I was right) which would be fun to watch (right again). And I was a big Deion fan, and wanted to see his incredible season capped off with a ring.

But there was a Bears connection here as well — two of them, actually. The first was Richard Dent, who signed with the Niners that year. He was injured and had missed all but two games, but I was still pulling for him.

The second, more important one was that the 49ers had steamrolled the Bears in the divisional round. Yet the Bears were in that game via an incredible upset over the division-champion Vikings, so unlike in ‘87 or ‘88, I was proud that we’d taken our best shot against the eventual Super Bowl champion. In my view, a 49ers championship further validated the upstart ‘94 Bears.

Super Bowl XXX: Cowboys vs. Steelers

Rooting interest: Good game

Reason: Indifference

Intensity of rooting interest: n/a

Result: Cowboys 27, Steelers 17

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -25

Explanation: I was not a Cowboys fan, as so many my age were, but I was also not a Cowboys hater. I respected their dominance, and though I didn’t like Barry Switzer, I did like Deion, and was enthralled by this rogue gunslinger of a cornerback who seemingly brought the Super Bowl trophy with him from team to team.

I was also disappointed that the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, because I was rooting for the underdog Colts in the AFC championship game, along with ex-Bear Jim Harbaugh (who’d won me back with the Colts after I rejoiced his Chicago departure in ‘94).

So I had no rooting interest in Super Bowl XXX, pulling instead for a good game, which this wasn’t.

Super Bowl XXXI: Packers vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Patriots

Reason: Packers

Intensity of rooting interest: 9 out of 10

Result: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -34

Explanation: Man oh man did I hate the ‘96 Packers. They were just too damn good. They had the number one offense and the number one defense. They had Peak Brett Favre in the second of three-straight MVPs and Peak Reggie White. They lost Robert Brooks midseason and replaced him with Andre Rison. They’d won six straight against the Bears, starting with the 73-9 joint slaughters in 1994. They were perfect and I hated them.

There were only two silver linings: they had Keith Jackson, he of the Super Tec Eagles, and Don Beebe, he of the Super Bowl Bills, both of whom I was happy to see win rings. I was not at all happy to see Jim McMahon win a ring with Green Bay, though this was negated once he showed up to the White House wearing his Bears uniform, which would have been special with any team but was particularly sweet with the Pack.

But those were small silver linings. This was a tough one to stomach, especially with the Pats taking a 14-10 lead and looking like they would scrape out a victory. It was made doubly tough because I’d allowed my friend Tony the Packers Fan to watch the game at my house. My parents had a Super Bowl party on the first floor, and my friends and I had our party in the basement, and Tony was the only one who went home happy.

Super Bowl XXXII: Packers vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Broncos

Reason: Packers + John Elway

Intensity of rooting interest: 10 out of 10

Result: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -24

Explanation: Until last season, Super Bowl XXXII was the pinnacle of my non-Bears Super Bowl fandom. I wanted Elway to finally win a ring, especially after his embarrassment the season before against Jacksonville. And now he was doing it against the Packers, who were also defending champions? Done and done.

Super Bowl XXXIII: Falcons vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Broncos

Reason: I was mad at the Falcons for messing up a Broncos-Vikings Super Bowl

Intensity of rooting interest: 1 out of 10

Result: Broncos 34, Falcons 19

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -23

Explanation: This was very close to being a “good game” rooting game, but I was still too annoyed about missing out on a Broncos-Vikings Super Bowl, which I am convinced to this day is the great lost Super Bowl of my life. And it could have flipped the other way because of Bears and Northwestern alumnus Bob Christian, who was Atlanta’s starting fullback that year, but he was injured so I didn’t even get to watch him in the Super Bowl, leaving me back to just being annoyed. Naturally, the game lived down to my expectations, even if it was cool to see John Elway finish his career with 336 yards, Super Bowl MVP, a rushing touchdown, and the brilliant Rod Smith touchdown.

Super Bowl XXXIV: Rams vs. Titans

Rooting interest: Titans

Reason: Holdover from my Oilers fandom combined with an appreciation of Steve McNair and Eddie George

Intensity of rooting interest: 2 out of 10

Result: Rams 23, Titans 16

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -25

Explanation: Best Super Bowl I’ve ever watched. And since I liked the Rams too — along with ex-Bear Ricky Proehl — I wasn’t that upset when the Titans lost. Amazing performances by McNair and George, who are champions in my book.

Super Bowl XXXV: Giants vs. Ravens

Rooting interest: Good game

Reason: Anger and bitterness

Intensity of rooting interest: n/a

Result: Ravens 35, Giants 7

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -25

Explanation: Maybe the worst Super Bowl I’ve ever watched. I was rooting hard for a Vikings-Raiders game, the two teams that lost in the conference championships. And I was rooting hard against the Ravens, because I was getting territorial due to comparisons between their defense and the ‘85 and ‘86 Bears defenses. But I also didn’t really like the Giants, so I couldn’t root for them, even though I was impressed by Jim Fassel’s “This team is going to the playoffs” press conference.

In other circumstances, I might have rooted for Baltimore because they had ex-Bears offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh as their offensive coordinator, and because I liked Trent Dilfer and Rod Woodson. But I was also still angry about Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore (which for me somehow didn’t apply to the Oilers moving to Tennessee). Whatever. This game was all around yuckiness.

Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Patriots

Reason: Cool story

Intensity of rooting interest: 3 out of 10

Result: Patriots 20, Rams 17

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -22

Explanation: I thought the Patriots were just such a cool story that if they beat the monstrously dominant Rams, it would be because something amazing happened. And it did! I was also kind of sick of the Rams at this point, mostly because I thought that Kurt Warner got too much credit and Marshall Faulk too little, though ironically this was the game that turned me around on the grit, value, and talent of Warner.

The reason my “intensity of rooting interest” was low was because I was also a big Aeneas Williams supporter, and would have been happy to see him get a ring.

Super Bowl XXXVII: Buccaneers vs. Raiders

Rooting interest: Raiders

Reason: Napoleon Harris

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -26

Explanation: After two seasons of waiting for that kick-ass Raiders offense to reach the Super Bowl, it finally happened in a season when their former head coach was their opposition and their starting center had a manic break days before the game. That made Super Bowl XXXVII one of the biggest bummers of my life, though at least we saw an answer to my lifelong question: what’s more important, having the #1 defense or the #1 offense?

I was rooting for the Raiders, though, mostly because of rookie linebacker Napoleon Harris, the first Northwestern player I’d watched who was drafted in the first round. He was starting for the Raiders, which I thought was really cool, in part because the starter intros would include Harris saying, “Napoleon Harris, Northwestern University.”

But the bad omens began early, with Harris actually saying something else in his intro (maybe his high school?), while my appreciation of Woodsons (both Charles and Rod) did nothing for me.

The lone upside here was that U. of I. star Simeon Rice had two sacks and should have gotten the game’s MVP, perhaps with Warren Sapp. But no, that went to Dexter Jackson. Nothing is what it should be.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Panthers vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Panthers

Reason: My 1996 Carolina Panthers Starter jacket + Ricky Proehl and Todd Sauerbrun

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: Patriots 32, Panthers 29

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -30

Explanation: Because of my desire to be a trendsetter, I weirdly rarely bought Chicago gear growing up. My first basketball jerseys were, in order: Kenny Anderson, Nets; Dikembe Mutombo, Nuggets; Glenn Robinson, Bucks; Larry Johnson, Hornets alternate road jersey. In the fall of 1995 I got my first Bulls jersey, but even that was different, going with Rodman instead of Jordan or Pippen and going with the new black instead of the classic red.

Likewise, when I had the opportunity to get a Starter jacket (the pullover with the big front pocket) I squashed the idea of getting a Bears coat and instead went with the second-year Carolina Panthers, which made the Panthers my newest “second team”, joining the Eagles, Oilers, and Bills.

So when the Panthers reached Super Bowl XXXVIII, along with ex-Bears receiver and pseudo Super Bowl mainstay Ricky Proehl plus ex-Bears punter Todd Sauerbrun, I was in for a Panthers victory. I also loved that Rod “He Hate Me” Smart was returning kicks for the Panthers, adding another delicious bit of fandom to the cake. I would have rooted harder for the Patriots if ex-Bear Rosevelt Colvin was healthy, but he wasn’t. And while I was excited about ex-Bear Ted Washington, I was still more excited about the Panthers for the reasons given.

And since we’re here, a quick reminder on how Panthers coach John Fox blew this game by going for two too early, starting when they were down 21-10 in the 4th quarter.

REAL WORLD

Panthers score TD, go for two, miss: Patriots 21, Panthers 16

Panthers score TD, go for two, miss: Panthers 22, Patriots 21

Patriots score TD, go for two, get it: Patriots 29, Panthers 22

Panthers score TD, kick extra point: Patriots 29, Panthers 29

Patriots make field goal with four seconds left: Patriots 32, Panthers 29

FAKE WORLD

Panthers score TD, kick extra point: Patriots 21, Panthers 17

Panthers score TD, kick extra point: Panthers 24, Patriots 21

Patriots score TD, kick extra point: Patriots 28, Panthers 24

Panthers score TD, kick extra point: Panthers 31, Panthers 28

Patriots make field goal with four seconds left: Patriots 31, Panthers 31

Overtime!

Can you imagine Adam Vinatieri lining up for a field goal with four seconds left down by three points? When Fox went for two at 21-16, I started saying, “Too early, it’s too early.” And my quick calculations meant I was pissed when Vinatieri lined up to break the tie instead of to get the tie. I can’t find the story now, but Fox later admitted that he should have just kicked those extra points. This was almost the greatest Super Bowl ever. Alas.

Super Bowl XXXIX: Eagles vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Eagles

Reason: Donovan McNabb

Intensity of rooting interest: 3 out of 10

Result: Patriots 24, Eagles 21

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -33

Explanation: I definitely wanted to see Chicago-native Donovan McNabb get a ring, even though I’d witnessed in person his defeat of the Bears in the 2001 playoffs. Didn’t happen. Through the third quarter, I thought this was going to be of the best Super Bowls ever. But the fourth quarter sucked as the Pats went up by 10, and then the Eagles went waaaaaay too slow on their long touchdown drive.

Upside: Rosy Colvin started and won! That was nice.

Super Bowl XL: Seahawks vs. Steelers

Rooting interest: Good game

Reason: No overwhelming feelings

Intensity of rooting interest: n/a

Result: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10

Explanation: The closest I came to a rooting interest in this game was the Steelers by way of Illinois-native and fellow Indiana University Hoosier Antwaan Randle-El, who amazingly made the play of the game when he became the first non-quarterback to throw a touchdown in a Super Bowl. But my appreciation for Randle-El, who I had watched in college, was not enough to make me really care to root for the Steelers, especially not with ex-Bear Bobby Engram in Seattle. Shoutout, also, to ex-Bear Chris Gardocki, who was punting for Pittsburgh.

Super Bowl XLII: Giants vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Patriots

Reason: I wanted to see an undefeated team

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: Giants 17, Patriots 14

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -37

Explanation: I think it’s natural to pull for the underdog, and no dog was more under than the 2007 Giants against the 18-0 Patriots. I love a good underdog (see Super Bowl XXXVI) but I also have an appreciation for dominance due to my Bulls fandom, so I was actually pulling New England in this game.

Like in 2003, I was very bummed that Rosy Colvin was injured, (though I was excited that he made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated). I was also rooting for Randy Moss to get a ring. Amazing game though, and by no means was I disappointed that the Giants won, if only because it made the game that much more intense and unpredictable.

Super Bowl XLIII: Cardinals vs. Steelers

Rooting interest: Cardinals

Reason: Larry Fitzgerald

Intensity of rooting interest: 2 out of 10

Result: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -39

Explanation: This was close to being a “good game” game, but I’d become enamored with Larry Fitzgerald in 2008 and very much wanted to see him emerge victorious. I also dug Warner at that point, and was always a fan of Anquan Boldin. But I liked Mike Tomlin too, and was happy when he won.

The ex-Bear factor was low here: just Cardinals starting tackle Mike Gandy, which was a trip, because Gandy had been underwhelming in Chicago on teams worse than this Cardinals team, yet now he was starting in the Super Bowl? Amazing.

Super Bowl XLIV: Saints vs. Colts

Rooting interest: Saints

Reason: ALL THE REASONS

Intensity of rooting interest: 9 out of 10

Result: Saints 31, Colts 17

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -30

Explanation: Hot damn was I pumped for the Saints. A few reasons. First, they had a great story with their success in post-Katrina New Orleans. Second, they had a great story even without that, one of the truly down-on-its-luck franchises for most of my life, a club that didn’t win its first playoff game until 2000. Third, they had Darren Sharper, who had a great story himself and who I really really liked until it turned out he was a serial rapist. I didn’t know that then, though, so at the time I was very happy for Sharper. Fourth, they had two Indiana alums, Tracy Porter and Courtney Roby, both of whom contributed (to say the least), and as I got further and further away from my time at IU I came to feel a greater and greater bond with the school (though still not more than Northwestern, when football is concerned).

Fifth? REVENGE.

Oh man, was I ever out for revenge. After the horrifying Super Bowl XLI, I wanted nothing more than to see Peyton Manning, Joe Addai, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Kelvin Hayden, and the rest of those punk Indianapolis Colts walk away empty handed. This loss obviously did nothing to change 2006, and in reality I always enjoyed watching the Colts offense, as much as that pained me for many reasons that I won’t get into here, but hot damn, on that day, I was out for blood.

Super Bowl XLV: Packers vs. Steelers

Rooting interest: Charles Woodson and only Charles Woodson

Reason: Packers vs. a rapist

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: Packers 31, Steelers 25

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -26

Explanation: This is the most conflicted I’ve ever felt watching a Super Bowl. On the one hand, you have the Packers. I would root against them in any season, but this was the season when they knocked off the Bears at Soldier Field in the NFC championship game. It was hard to watch this game and not keep thinking, “Man, we could be there right now.”

On the other hand, this was the season that began with Ben Roethlisberger suspended without pay for six games due to his violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. His violation? Two rapes, one in July 2009 and one in March 2010. As a result, I was rooting hard for the Steelers to lose, yet the football fan in me still couldn’t root for the Packers to win.

I settled on rooting for just Charles Woodson to win — who I have liked since his days at Michigan — which would also get me the Roethlisberger loss I desired. Not even Skokie native and U. of I. alumnus Rashard Mendenhall could get me to root for Pittsburgh. They needed to lose, and I still hope Ben Roethlisberger never wins another football game the rest of his life, a portion of which should be spent in prison.

Super Bowl XLVI: Giants vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Good game

Reason: Indifference

Intensity of rooting interest: n/a

Result: Giants 21, Patriots 17

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -26

Explanation: I was still pretty bummed about the 2011 Bears going down in flames after the injuries to Cutler and Forte, and had no real reason to root for or against either of these teams. I rooted for a good game, and got one.

Super Bowl XLVII: 49ers vs. Ravens

Rooting interest: Ravens

Reason: I watched at a Ravens bar. Also, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Corey Graham.

Intensity of rooting interest: 5 out of 10

Result: Ravens 34, 49ers 31

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -21

Explanation: In early 2013, my editor at RedEye asked me and another sportswriter if we would like to live-tweet the Super Bowl each from a team bar in Chicago. I landed at Ravens bar Fizz on Lincoln and Belmont. I was already inclined to root for Baltimore because of ex-Bears Brendon Ayanbadejo and Corey Graham. Watching the game at a Ravens bar sealed it for me, because I figured it was better to be surrounded by drunk football fans whose team just won than drunk football fans whose team just lost.

I was correct in my assessment. Once fans understood why I was there, sitting in the corner of the bar on my laptop, barely drinking, they started reacting in front of me, shouting things like “Write about THAT!”

My favorite character that night was a wild-eyed, frothy Ravens fan in an Ed Reed jersey who I eventually anointed “Frothy Ed Reed,” and whose ups, downs, and ultimate up was a joy to watch.

Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Seahawks

Reason: Seahawks + anti-Peyton Manning

Intensity of rooting interest: 4 out of 10

Result: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -17

Explanation: Sometimes a team beats you and you never get over it. Such is the case of the Colts and Super Bowl XLI.

Sometimes a team beats you and you end up respecting them for it. Such is the case of the brutal Bears loss to the Seahawks in the regular season of 2012.

One year later, Seattle was in the Super Bowl against Peyton Manning. And I tell you, my fellow Bears fans, with all respect to Super Bowl XX, this was the greatest Super Bowl ass-kicking I ever saw. To pummel the league’s #1 offense 43-8 (including a 36-0 lead) and beat down a QB who tossed 55 touchdowns in the regular season -- this was a sight to behold. Shoutout to Marshawn Lynch and his fantastic post-game locker room dancing.

Super Bowl XLIX: Seahawks vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Seahawks

Reason: Seahawks

Intensity of rooting interest: 5 out of 10

Result: Patriots 28, Seahawks 14

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -22

Explanation: By 2014, I was all in with Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman. They were both dominant, both huge personalities, and yet so different. In the run-up to XLIX, Richard Sherman gave one of the best breakdowns I’ve ever heard about the true challenges facing an NCAA student-athlete. Marshawn Lynch, meanwhile, famously spoke to the media “so I won’t get fined.” I know both of those guys have rubbed people wrong — Lynch specifically because of that type of press conference -- but I found them both honest and compelling.

Not surprisingly, I was pretty damn bummed that Seattle didn’t run Beast Mode at the goal line. That will never not be baffling.

Super Bowl 50: Panthers vs. Broncos

Rooting interest: Panthers

Reason: PEANUT TILLMAN! Plus Greg Olsen and Ron Rivera. Plus Cam Newton.

Intensity of rooting interest: 10 out of 10

Result: Broncos 24, Panthers 10

Cumulative Super Bowl cheering score: -32

Explanation: Super Bowl 50 tops Super Bowl XXXII for my biggest personal stake in a non-Bears Super Bowl. We had...

...Charles Tillman

...Greg Olsen + Ron Rivera

...my old Panthers fandom

...Cam Newton, who I’d grown to appreciate and was personally rooting for

...Peyton Manning, who I knew would be the story if he won even though he’d been benched that year for Brock Osweiler and hadn’t done much in the playoffs.

Once again, I was let down, as the Broncos D smashed Newton all day and put forth a suffocating effort.

Super Bowl LI: Falcons vs. Patriots

Rooting interest: Falcons

Reason: The city of Atlanta has only one pro championship (1995 Braves).

Intensity of rooting interest: 7 out of 10

Result: ????

Explanation: I actually have a few reasons for rooting for the Falcons, among them props for knocking out the Packers.

But my main reason is that the city of Atlanta has only one professional sports title, ever: the 1995 Atlanta Braves.

After watching the city of Cleveland as well as the Cubs break long championship droughts in 2016, I wish that for fans of any drought-addled city. Shouts to the A. Go Falcons.