By: Jesse Bonello
Sports writers and fans spend hours scouring league records, championships, statistics and awards. There are endless debates about who the best athletes and teams are in every sport, but NFL fans can sit back and relax for the next week or so, hold back the debates and appreciate the football greatness that’s about to unfold because this year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons has some of the most historical value in National Football League history. Pat’s quarterback Tom Brady, age 39, is heading to Super Bowl LI (51). At the beginning of the season, many NFL analysts thought he’d be in the stands at the Super Bowl, not playing in it. This will be Brady’s seventh Super Bowl appearance, and he has the chance to win his fifth NFL championship, which would put him in a league of his own as the only quarterback in league history to win five.
Since 2001, the Patriots have made it to those seven Super Bowls with only two constants on their team: Brady and Bill Belichick. Belichick is the only coach in league history with seven Super Bowl berths. Before this season, Belichick and Brady already had the most berths for a coach-quarterback duo, so now they’re just extending their record.
The NFL record books, stat lines and awards are very one sided between the two teams, leaning heavy towards the Patriots. But the numbers shouldn’t discourage anyone from cheering for the Atlanta Falcons; just ask the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants that beat heavily favored Patriots’ teams.
For Atlanta fans, there’s no better time for the Falcons to make it to the Super Bowl. Atlanta’s 44-21 win over Green Bay in the NFC Championship game was their last game ever at the Georgia Dome, which the Falcons have called home since 1992. The Georgia Dome was just their second stadium in their 51-year team history, and, with a win, the Falcons can close out one of their most productive eras with the best season in team history.
The Falcons are one of 13 NFL teams that haven’t won a Super Bowl, and are among the older teams in the league. This will be the Falcons second appearance in the big game, and their first since the 1998 season when they lost Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos.
The Falcons have a high-powered offense and they’re more then capable of winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but people didn’t think that at the beginning of the season. ESPN staff writer David Purdum wrote, “In the offseason, there was so little betting interest in the Atlanta Falcons that some Las Vegas sportsbooks lengthened their Super Bowl odds from 40-1 to 100-1 in an attempt to drum up some action.”
The Falcons are looking to defy the odds one last time, while the Patriots, favoured by three points by the Las Vegas bookmakers, are looking to extend the record books and their trophy shelves. This game has the potential to go down as an instant classic, so try not to spend too much time looking at food. Each team has a 50 per cent chance of winning the Super Bowl, but the viewers have a 100 per cent chance of witnessing NFL greatness.