It has been fairly well established that pretty much every part of the country that wasn’t originally settled by a pilgrim dislikes the New England Patriots. Such is the price of ridiculous success.
But where does that leave the loyal fan of either Georgia or Georgia Tech known to cheer for their guys once they leave campus for the wider world? Does our state’s devotion to its college football at least open the door to the merest possibility of not wishing New England biblical misfortune in Atlanta?
The question was put to Pats center David Andrews that, all things considered, who should Bulldogs fans side with between Patriot and Los Angeles Ram?
“I think they should be pulling for the New England Patriots,” he said. “We have more Georgia players on our team, so that’s the answer.”
To achieve that numerical superiority, Andrews needed to dip into the Patriots injured reserve list, where lineman Isaiah Wynn (Achilles) lives. He joins Andrews and running back Sony Michel as UGA Patriots. The Rams are paying a pair of Bulldogs – running back Todd Gurley and linebacker Ramik Wilson.
Given Georgia’s tailback tradition, it was inevitable that we’d arrive at this place where a key Super Bowl matchup would be between two Bulldogs backs. Georgia is practically colonizing NFL backfields. And, in fact, if New England wasn’t involved in the Super Bowl – yeah, right, like that’s ever a possibility – Andrews might find himself even cheering for Gurley and the Rams.
“It’s cool I got to block for both of them (Michel and Gurley). They’re both dynamic backs and great people, too. Great teammates to me when I was at Georgia,” he said.
The sole Tech player still standing occupies the New England line next to Andrews, proving it is possible for these tribes to co-exist. There’s a grant in there somewhere for an enterprising anthropologist with the time to study this phenomenon.
While he doesn’t have as many Atlanta connections as Andrews – he grew up in Tennessee rather than Atlanta – Shaq Mason still is enjoying a homecoming of a sort at the Atlanta Super Bowl.
The Pats will be practicing at Tech, and Mason is anxious to see what’s become of the place since he left in 2015. “It’ll be fun,” he said. “They’ve got a new locker room, so I’m happy to see that. It will be pretty cool, and I mean, I’ll love to have David and Sony practicing on the Georgia Tech turf. That’s definitely a plus.”
Such connections, as many crossover fans of the Falcons have noted, don’t seem to come as naturally for the local NFL franchise. Nineteen Georgia players have been drafted over the past five years, none of them by the Falcons. The team has taken but two Georgia players (running back Thomas Brown 2008 and linebacker Akeem Dent 2011) and one Tech player (defensive tackle Vance Walker) since Thomas Dimitroff became GM in 2008. There is no pipeline, even as Georgia turns out so many demonstrably effective pros.
The fact that the Falcons passed on Gurley to take Vic Beasley in 2015 has proved to be a boil that won’t stop festering.
Two schools lead in representation in this Super Bowl, with four players each. Georgia’s one. Try to guess the other.
Time’s up. It’s Rutgers. So, reputation and results are not always related.
For those keeping score – and there’s always someone keeping score in the battle for conference pride – at the outset of these playoffs, the SEC led with 114 players on the active rosters of the 12 teams. Next came the Pac-12 (93), the ACC (91) and the Big Ten (89). This by the NCAA’s count. It might be just more efficient and less expensive for the Falcons to keep their scouts within a few hours’ drive of Flowery Branch.
All these numbers and allegiances can be confusing, especially when you start equating Georgia to Rutgers.
Maybe it’s just easier to stick with Plan A: Dislike the Patriots.