I enjoy a nice, well-crafted storyline as much as the next guy. They're great in summer blockbusters and beach novels, and perfect for political discourse. But here's the thing about them: They're never fully true.
So when I read that the NFC championship is a "Good vs. Evil" showdown, I laugh. It's not that simple. It's easy to root for the Colts to fall to the Jets as karmic comeuppance for their Week 16 loss to them, too. But that's not the only way to view the story.
There's no one way to view any story. Here's a sampling of why.
Sean Payton's only a Saint in title: Does that ruin the Saints-as-heroes arc? Reggie Bush is rising just before a contract is up for grabs: How would that selfishness fit into the selflessness of a team that has carried a crushed region on its back?
Do the Vikings have no such stories of redemption, or are we only not hearing about them because every microphone and camera is trained on Brett Favre, knowing he moves the needle? Is Favre "evil" because he manipulates the media, or is the consumers' resistance to the old-school love for an old-school guy just a rejection of a mainstream view?
And, really, is a millionaire doing what he could to get away from an organization he felt betrayed by and find professional success elsewhere -- which, clearly, he has -- any different in intent than what Conan O'Brien has been lauded for doing? (Obviously, Conan was a lot classier, and Favre didn't have Jay Leno as a convenient villainous counterpoint. But consider the intent.)
Are the Jets a team of destiny, with Rex Ryan's defense and a gritty rookie quarterback set to lead them to the promised land? Or are they a squad that has caught exactly one top-ten offense at full strength since mid-November, needed three missed field goals to win that game, and has blown their karma on bluster and braggadocio instead of fervent hope?
Are the Colts screwed, with karma set to keelhaul a team that let its sails droop to the chagrin of its fanbase? Or are they shrewd, rigging the playoffs to get a weaker, greener team with no history as their nemesis admitted, and luring them into a false sense of security by holding back on their best schemes?
Take whatever views you like: That's your right. But don't assume that you're seeing everything as it is, in black and white, with good and evil clearly delineated. Recognize that everything in the pre-game hype storm is relative, and, ultimately, relatively meaningless.
The magic of sports is that the stories unfurl themselves on the field. Everything else is just the roar of the crowd.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.