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The Strange Super Bowl Iowa Caucus Coincidence
January 22, 2004
By Bob Calhoun

The results of Monday's Iowa Caucuses may have shocked political pundits and observers, but they could have been accurately predicted by watching the weekend's NFL playoff games. Only a day before the Iowa Caucus it was determined that the New England Patriots would face the Carolina Panthers in this year's Super Bowl. The following day on Monday Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts (where the Patriots play) and John Edwards of North Carolina took first and second place respectively in a big upset over former front runners Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt.

Things get stranger still when you realize that the Super Bowl this year is being played in Houston, Texas at a stadium named after a corporate energy giant. What could possibly be more representative of G. W. Bush than that?

While it is easy to dismiss such a seemingly cosmic confluence as the mere work of coincidence, it wasn't that long ago that the New England Patriots were seen by many to represent our national zeitgeist. It was February 3, 2002 in the Super Bowl that followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 that those plucky Pats beat the heavily favored St. Louis Rams by a field goal in the last ten seconds of the game.

At the time, Americans of all political persuasions still displayed the Stars and Stripes in their front yards in a show of unity. We had been through a staggering tragedy and were displaying our patriotism like never before. An upset win by a team called, well, the Patriots that sported red, white and blue in their logos took on an epic significance that couldn't have been any more symbolic if it had been scripted by Hulk Hogan. The football franchise had achieved a national moment of healing, brought to you by the NFL and Pepsi.

New England quarterback Tom Brady doesn't have the war-weary eyes of Senate veteran John Kerry (in fact Brady barely looks over 20 years old), but he has won that prized Super Bowl ring once before so he has an edge in experience over his Carolina counterpart Jake Delhomme. The Carolina Panthers were an NFL expansion team that played its inaugural game in 1995, while John Edwards is a first time Senator who was elected in 1998. For both Senator Edwards and his Carolina Panthers, lack of time on the playing field is most often cited as the reason that they can't both go all the way, but they have gotten this far.

Carolina's January 18th win over the Philadelphia Eagles was just as big an upset as Edwards' second place finish in Iowa over Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. While Dean may feel as wounded as injured Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, he will compete in upcoming primaries, while McNabb has to wait for his ribs to heal and next season. Sadly, there will be no next season for Gephardt. There is no way to forecast Governor Dean's political future because, well, Vermont doesn't have a football team.

It remains to be seen if the team that takes the Super Bowl on February 1 will mirror the Democrat who goes against Bush in November, but I will offer you the following bit of political crystal ball gazing through the world of sports: if New England wins the Super Bowl, and Kerry wins his party's nomination, and then the beloved Bos Sox break the curse of the Bambino and win the World Series, then George Bush and his gazillion dollar war chest are going down.

There are a lot of ifs there to be sure, but if all of those events should occur this year, then all of the Karl Roves in the world won't be able to help W get re-elected. You can bet on that at the sports book in Vegas.


Bob Calhoun is a freelance writer who specializes in strange sports stories and odd cultural confluences.

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