9:45 AM EST, February 15, 2013
Although I've lived all my life within 30 miles of Times Square, I've never been much of a Giants or Jets fan (when people ask my favorite team, I usually say the Buffalo Bills, because unlike the players for the Jets or Giants, the Bills' high salaries help hold down my New York state income taxes).
Yet, as I watched the Super Bowl, I found myself rooting for Baltimore because:
•So much of Baltimore is so much like the neighborhood where I grew up in Queens. The attached brick houses with metal awnings shading what our parents called picture windows. The poorly paved if paved at all common driveways out back. The grandchildren of Italy and Ireland and Poland communicating with each other in an accent that confounds outsiders yet comforts locals. Tony Bennett, who grew up seven blocks from me on 32nd Street in Astoria may sing about San Francisco, but he would be much more at home in the neighborhood where Nancy Pelosi grew up than the one she now lives in.
•Your quarterback is what each of my sons already is: Tall, clean-cut, modest, Italian.
•Your owner is what I secretly hope each of my sons will someday become: A self-made Italian-American billionaire.
•Your running back grew up in the next town over from where I now live, and if you read our local newspaper, obviously has the full legal name of "New Rochelle native Ray Rice."
•But mostly because Baltimore is not dominated by the beautiful or the sophisticated or the stylish, three attributes that have never been thrown in my direction, and because many of you had your hearts broken by Mayflower moving vans in the middle of a wintry night 30 years ago.
San Francisco is an overflow of riches, knows it, and admits it. The Golden Gate Bridge. Cable Cars. Nob Hill at sunset. One of the two best cities in America to get crab (Dungeness). In a just world, the city that already has Lombard Street should not also have the Lombardi Trophy.
And that is why I was not rooting for the team that represents the prettiest city in America to pull off what Al Michaels would have called a comeback for the ages. Hang on for a final down, a final minute, a final second, you only team named for a poem written by a man who has a cottage in the Bronx named for him.
I'm planning to drive three miles down Boston Post Road on Saturday, March 2, to attend the rescheduled Ray Rice Rally. But first I'm going to go up to my attic and look through piles of utterly ugly clothing from the seventies that my wife never convinced me to throw away.
None of it is beautiful, sophisticated, or stylish.
But hopefully there's something purple up there.
Jim Vespe, Larchmont, N.Y.
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