It’s a fairly well-known fact around campus that Robert Kraft, who is apprently not America’s favorite magnate of mediocre cheeses but the largest shareholder of Israel’s biggest packaging plant (who knew?—Ed.), and generous donor to the things that really matter, is the man responsible for Hillel’s fairly newish and lavishly palatial center for Jewish life, located between Broadway and Riverside across 115th street from the less opulent Schapiro residence hall. What is less known amongst a school composed mostly of sports philistines is that Kraft is also the owner of the New England Patriots, the most dominant team in not just the NFL but all of professional sports over the last decade. Last night, in honor of his team’s ongoing quest for the NFL’s first perfect season since 1972, Kraft footed the bill for a Super Bowl party in the Kraft Center, thereby uniting two of the more incongruous parts of his empire into one: Hillel and football.
I alighted upon the fifth floor of the Kraft Center at around 5:50, about half an hour prior to kickoff. Chairs—roughly enough to seat, say, seventy—were arranged around an expansive projector, which was already tuned to FOX. As the analysts prattled away on the pre-game show, more gentlemen clad in yarmulkes and jerseys ranging from the Redskins to the Raiders filed into the space. Trailing the revelers was a smorgasbord of free food. Bags of Chips Ahoy! and Ruffles gave way to classier refreshments like kosher pizza and guacamole, but my raging fever prevented me from surfeiting my gluttony. Seeing me sipping my miso soup from a Nalgene, a random guy walked up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Harry. What’s your name?”
“I’m Chris,” I admitted.
“Chris,” he said. “Sababa.”
“Sababa indeed,” I responded, desperately wishing I knew what the word meant as I took another draught from my bakbuk.
“Which year are you?” he said, continuing the conversation in the vein of orientation week.
“Um, I write for the Current,” I answered in desperation.
At 6:20, the coin was flipped, the teams lined up, and the Giants received the Patriots’ kick. Ten game-minutes and maybe fifteen real-minutes later, the Giants kicked a field goal, prompting raucous cheers from the guys in the front. “JTS freshmen,” explained my chaperone. I put five bucks on the Patriots –12 to give myself a vested interest in the game; my chaperone takes the points.
Five game-minutes and maybe twenty real-minutes later, as FOX sought desperately to recoup its ad revenue, the Patriots’ juggernaut offense responded with a touchdown. More cheers from the front. “Also JTS freshmen,” said my duenna.
It seemed as if there were more or less an even distribution between Giants and Pats fans, but both factions were vastly outnumbered by the number of people that couldn’t have cared less either way. In the row behind me sat a gaggle of girls.
“Third and seven means…” intoned one of them.
“It means that you have three tries to get seven yards,” responded another.
“I don’t know much about sports,” said a third feminine voice.
This discourse propagated itself until the next commercial break, when the room was filled with a reverent silence. A stupid Pepsi ad elicited a few chuckles. Oy! What dreck. Then the game started again, and the kibitzing resumed with increased ferocity.
My chaperone and I vacated the premises at the end of the second quarter, with the Patriots still up 7-3. A few minutes later we arrived at the threshold of Alpha Epsilon Pi. A few hardy souls puttered around the vestibule, grazing on pizza, drinking Root Beer and Coors carbonated horse urine, and schmoozing amongst themselves. The common room was festooned with couches and chairs, splayed across which were the of AEPi and their friends, all of them transfixed by Tom Petty’s lackluster halftime show. (Whatever happened to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince?)
Seeing as there was nowhere to sit down at AEPi, my companion and I absquatulated after Tom Petty ceased to murder silence with a vulgar, ferocious energy, and made our way back to my suite in East Campus, a suite populated with Giants partisans. Conversation flowed as easily as the Sam Adams. Corn chips dipped in all sorts of exotic dips were downed with relentless regularity.
The Patriots received the kick and drove up the field before promptly turning the ball over on downs after failing to convert a questionable fourth-and-thirteen within field goal range. The Giants’ pressure on Tom Brady remained incessant; combined with his ailing ankle, which was clearly bothering him, throwing down the field was a complete impossibility. FOX aired a marginally racist ad featuring a panda bear, prompting a suitemate of mine to comment, “Wow, this is just the year of racist ads.” The Giants scored, the Patriots responded, and soon there were but five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning drove up the field, and with 35 seconds left completed a 13-yard pass to sports portent Plaxico Burress for the lead.
The Patriots’ last-ditch effort at making history is quashed, I lose five dollars on my bet, and the joyous screams of women and men emanate up from the lower strata of EC. It’s a very cathartic and blissful conclusion to a very Semitic Super bowl.