Super Bowl LI at Harvard.
By TUSHAR DWIVEDI
The heroic stories that filled the daydreams of our childhood and motivated our aspirations growing up are not as often found today among Harvard College students separated by concentrations and houses and burdened by ambitions and grade point averages. Even so, we lived one again Sunday night with the Super Bowl LI victory the New England Patriots.
I’ll be honest, the mellow atmosphere seemed to disappoint me at first. We were at Harvard, in New England, during probably the biggest sporting event of the year, and yet ten minutes into the game, the game reverted to the background and arbitrary psets became the priority.
This was the New England Patriots – and Tom Brady – the team and the man that I had grown up hating for their consistent dominance! But I was not going to ruin my chance to root for a major NFL dynasty, without being called a bandwagon fan, simply for the sake of a double-digit deficit.
And, by the middle of the third quarter, I was feeling it too. I am sure in the most dedicated of rooms and watch parties, everyone stayed focused and attentive to the game, but play by play the energy seemed to be sucked out of each individual dorm room, slowly leaking to the common rooms.
By the end of the game, everything I thought I knew had been thrown out the window. After watching Brady surgically pick apart a suddenly hapless Falcons defense, campus seemed to wake up. First came annoyance: “oh now we score… great.” Followed by typical disbelief: “ok so we need two touchdowns and two extra point conversions and we need to stop the Atlanta Falcons, the league’s best offense, to zero points the rest of the game – sure…”
The moment it all changed: the first two-point conversion. At some level, we had all hoped and believed and wished and dreamed that this moment would happen. Down 2000-0, there is always a chance with Tom Brady at the helm. However, at down by 8 points — that belief transformed into a sense of divine certainty. We were all starting to cling fervently to that persevering mantra of Amendola on the sidelines: “You gotta believe.”
While we grew more and more excited with each completed stop and completion, the miraculous heroisms seemed all the more realistic. And with that, everything fell into place. Honestly, I think I was just as awestruck as the Falcons, when the game finally ended – but that, in itself, was merely a reflection of what was possibly the best Super Bowl ever played. Long-time fanatic of the Patriots Hailey Novis ’18, confidently claimed: “While the game was emotionally taxing – with the beginning being the most depressing – it also was the best Super Bowl ever and the most impressive comeback!” (n.b.: Novis has also watched the viral video “Brady Pull Me Closer” an alarming number of times.)
But the moment James White crossed the goal line in overtime, it seemed as if all of Wigg B stopped to scream simultaneously. In that moment, the reaction represented a strong sense of pride in the Boston city, and a sense of exaltation that triumphed over fears of pset submission or upcoming schoolwork. Walking back to my own room, I saw a yard that had not had so many people packed within it since opening week, and truly felt a general sense of campus connection throughout Harvard.
In the days after, the sense of normalcy quickly returned – work, classes, stress, but the lingering atmosphere of being home to yet another championship team remains everywhere; from the completely decked out in Pats gear server at El Jefe’s to our beloved and loyal workers at Annenberg, the spirit of a comeback from behind victory is one that nearly everyone can embrace.
It has been awhile since Harvard-Yale took the campus by storm; here, however, our whole student body wasn’t packed into one large stadium, but instead sectioned off naturally. Friends watched with friends, or family, or those in their entryway or houses. And the sense of camaraderie that arouses is comparable to the pure Harvard spirit generated during the big game. The New England Patriots usually represent the sense of perfection/near-perfection we mentally seem to strive for. However, sometimes it’s nice to see a looming L turn into a W – something that anyone, on any campus, can get behind.
Tushar Dwivedi ([email protected]) is glad to be here for all the post-victory bliss.