Parity poopers, go home!

There's more at stake this Sunday than merely the Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That's right. There is more at stake than just the crown jewel achievement of arguably the most popular pro sport in the United States.

If the New England Patriots win, it will be their second Super Bowl victory in three years. And there are six Super Bowls left to play until 2010, which gives them six more opportunities to win the whole thing in the same decade.

What's the point? It's that a Patriot win Sunday will put New England in an excellent position to compete for the unofficial honor of "team of the decade." Iin the Super Bowl era, there have only been four of those - the Green Bay Packers in the '60s, the Pittsburgh Steelers in the '70s, the San Francisco 49ers in the '80s and the Dallas Cowboys in the '90s.

What's the big deal? Who outside of New England should be interested in the possible establishment of a Patriot dynasty?

Well first off, if the Patriots succeed, my roommate's New York Jets won't have a whole lot of success playing in the same division. And I'll get to point and laugh.

Aside from that success would help critics of the NFL who argue that parity is ruining the league.

The funny thing is, the parity that the NFL experiences now is not even a new thing, at least if you are looking at championship teams. The Packers were the last truly dominant team of an era, that being the '60s. But most of their championship glory came before the first NFL-AFL Championship Game, as the Super Bowl was called then.

The Steelers, for all their storied history, still won less than half the championships in their decade, claiming four Lombardi Trophies. The same goes for the '49ers. And their final championship came in January 1990, leaving math illiterates, like myself, arguing for years over whether a decade runs from 1980-89 or 1981-90.

The Cowboys fell short of the '49ers, winning only three Super Bowls in a 10-year reign that in the end, when the Cowboys fell sick, was run by the "vice team of the decade" Denver Broncos. And two of the Cowboys' Super Bowl wins came against the Bills, who couldn't win the big game if it was an intra-squad scrimmage.

But nobody omplained about parity in the '80s, were they? Of course, I lived through half the decade, so I don't know for sure. What about the '70s? Or the '60s?

Only the worst of disgruntled Baltimore Colts fans - who still sob when they hear the name "Irsay," and watch the movie "Diner" at least once a week - blame their Super Bowl III loss to the Jets on too much NFL parity.

Patriots fans, meaning Bostonians who follow the Patriots starting in October after the Boston Red Sox blow it, should support parity. You would too, if you had an archrival like the New York Yankees, whose 27 World Series titles since a certain player transaction 85 years ago rivaled your teams total of zero.

But the critics say this parity, which is apparently new to the NFL, is bad for the game. It must be, since the NFL is clearly struggling to draw bodies to stadiums and butts to couches, right? And because Super Bowl Sunday isn't nearly as big in most communities across the country as game seven of the World Series, is it?

When those critics recall the last game-seven parties they've been to, or the last time the Kansas City Royals sold out Kauffman Stadium, I'll start listening.

So in short:

If New England wins Sunday, all the opponents of parity should shut up and realize that things really haven't changed much. Perhaps teams are more inconsistent from year to year, but over time there are still the more dominant and less dominant teams.

If Carolina wins Sunday, all the opponents of parity should still shut up and realize that parity is not endangering the integrity or popularity of the game, and that it is more desirable than baseball's extreme alternative. They should realize that my Baltimore Ravens will become the real team of the decade soon, thwarting their parity argument in the process.

And if the Arizona Cardinals ever, ever win a Super Bowl ... God help us.

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