In the 1997 movie “Contact,” when S.R. Hadden reveals to Ellie Arroway that a second secret launch facility has been built on Hokkaido Island, he delivers one of my favorite lines in movie history, which I have been using variations of ever since:
“Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?”
In the case of Super Bowl XLIX, or, as I’ve been referring to it, the last roman-numeraled/romanly-numeraled Super Bowl, why should the Patriots have three championships when they can have four at the same price?
Later today, the Patriots will take the field in the Arizona desert in search of a fourth Super Bowl title. After winning three in four years in the early 2000s, and losing in 2008 and 2012, this feels like a must-win. Win, and they enter the rarefied air of franchises with four championships. Lose, and they will fall to 3-5 in Super Bowls as a franchise, and Tom Brady will be a .500 quarterback on the biggest stage. There’s a lot on the line.
And that’s not entirely fair. To call the past 14 years of New England football history the golden age would be a gross understatement, and to call Tom Brady and Bill Belichick the greatest coach-quarterback combination in NFL history should now be universally acknowledged as fact, not opinion. The 170-52 regular record of the Patriots since Brady became starter is absurdly good, and the six Super Bowl and nine AFC championship appearances over that same time span are even better.
Sure, three Lombardi trophies are amazing. But really, despite Schoolhouse Rock and De La Soul’s claim that three is the magic number, allow me to reject that claim for religious reasons, and say that four is really the magic number we’re looking for when it comes to Super Bowl titles.
Here’s a quick list of compelling reasons why the number 4 is vastly superior to the number 3 in Judaism.
- We drink four cups of wine on Passover
- There are four new years in Judaism
- We ask four questions at the Passover seder
- We have four matriarchs- Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah
- There are four Hebrew names for Passover
- We shake and smell the four species (arba minim) on Sukkot- palm, willow, myrtle, and citron.
- The tetragrammaton, or God’s name, has four letters
- Our liturgy and sacred texts contain numerous references to the ingathering of the exiles from the arba kanfot ha’aretz, or, the four corners of the earth. The phrase arba kanfot itself refers to the tallit.
Here’s hoping that the Patriots will take care of business tonight and be out on the Duck Boats later this week, cruising past 10-foot-high snowbanks as they celebrate another championship in Boston.
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