There are a lot of good reasons to cheer for both sides in this Super Bowl. Perhaps you like the underdog story of the Bengals so you cheer for them. Maybe you like the incredible career arc of Matthew Stafford so you’re opting for the Rams. It could be the emergence of Joe Burrow, the greatness of Aaron Donald, the explosiveness of Ja’Marr Chase, or the fact that this could very well be Sean McVay’s last game on the sidelines. Whatever your reasoning for cheering for the team you cheer for is valid… unless you’re rooting for the Rams because you’re so sure that Joe Burrow will return to the Super Bowl over the course of his career. That’s a terrible reason.
But why is it so terrible? And why am I getting my knickers in a twist over anybody’s reasoning for rooting for a specific team? Here’s why this bugs me. Everybody seems so confident that Burrow will get another crack at the Lombardi Trophy in his career and is using that as an excuse for rooting for Stafford.
I love Joe Burrow just as much as everyone else, but are we all really THAT certain he’s going to be back? Getting to a Super Bowl is insanely difficult. Even Tom Brady, who has reached the big game 10 times in his career, in case you forgot, has mentioned how the Patriots’ decade-long dry spell between 2005 and 2014 — where the team didn’t win a single Super Bowl — taught him to value the opportunity he had every single time. We’ve seen dozens of other great young quarterbacks in the past show immense potential, and every time, everyone says “Wow! They might not have won the Super Bowl, but they’ll be back,” only for them to never return.
Remember when Colin Kaepernick burst onto the scene and reached the Super Bowl in his first year as the 49ers’ starter? It was a hard-fought game, and although Kaepernick lost, everyone knew the insanely mobile, strong-armed QB Kaepernick would return and get another shot. Kaepernick reached the NFC Championship Game the next season, but that was the last of his playoff experience.
Remember when Dan Marino won the MVP in 1984 as he led the Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX, only to lose to Joe Montana and the 49ers? Everyone knew that Marino would be back. He never got back. Marino spent the rest of his career constantly getting bounced in the first or second round.
What about Aaron Rodgers? Brett Favre’s replacement became the team’s starter in 2008 and blew everyone’s socks off with his incredible talent when he won a Super Bowl in his third season with the Packers. Everyone knew that this was the first of many Super Bowl victories for Rodgers in his career. Thanks to a couple fantastic efforts from Colin Kaepernick and, most recently, the 49ers’ special teams unit, Rodgers has never returned.
Philip Rivers reached the AFC Championship game in his second season as the starter for the San Diego Chargers. If not for the undefeated Patriots getting in his way, Rivers would’ve likely gone to the Super Bowl, but don’t worry, he would return to the AFC Championship G—...oh wait, no he wouldn’t.
The point I’m trying to make is that, as great as Joe Burrow is, if you’re really a fan of his, you’d want him to win the Super Bowl this year. Of course I want to see Stafford win a Super Bowl, but cheering for him specifically because you think Joe Burrow will be back undermines just how difficult it is to reach the Super Bowl in the first place, and guess what, in ten years time, if Burrow hasn’t returned to the Super Bowl, maybe you’ll look back on this year’s game and think “Man, I’m glad Stafford got his ring, but I really wish Joe Sheisty won instead.”