TALLADEGA -- Many local NFL fans are ambivalent about today’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, and they may not be the only ones.
According to Forbes.com, the most watched televised sporting event is still set to attract more than 100 million viewers, but that number could decline for the third straight year.
The Daily Home detected a lack of enthusiasm while sampling the opinions of fans at several locations in the paper’s coverage are Saturday.
“I will probably end up still watching, but I’m just not excited about it,” said Keith Gulledge, of Pell City.
One reason for the low enthusiasm is the lack of a local connection.
“I was really excited for last year’s game, but the way the Falcons lost last year to the Patriots (blowing a 28-3 lead) ... it’s not something I’m really looking forward to,” said Justin Reeves, of Talladega. “I’m a fan of the Falcons and the Saints.”
A fair comparison could be made between today’s matchup and last month’s College Football Playoff championship game between Alabama and Georgia.
The Patriots, like Alabama, have built a dynasty, leaving many fans fatigued. Today’s matchup features two teams hailing from the Northeast. Last month’s game also lacked regional diversity, featuring two teams from the Southeastern Conference.
“I’m a big Bama fan, so I understand why the Patriots get all the hate,” said Barry Brown, of Pell City. “However, my wife and I will be pulling for anyone against New England,”
Brown noted that his wife, Lisa, is also a Georgia Bulldog fan.
“I usually just watch college football,” she said.
The Eagles are certainly the underdog, with no Super Bowl titles in their history and their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, out due to injury. But even for those who like to cheer for the underdog, the Eagles lack the local appeal of a Georgia.
The Weldons, of Talladega, said even though the teams they’re loyal to didn’t make it, they still plan to watch some of the game.
“I’m a Falcons fan and our son, Ryder, is a Texans fan, but we will still probably watch,” Jonathan Weldon said.
Some area residents said they have been turned off by the NFL for political reasons and have no intentions of viewing.
“I am anti-NFL,” Brandon Williams, of Pell City, said in regards to the ongoing controversy over players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem.
Some said they are tuning in just to watch the commercials and halftime show.
“I’m looking forward to watching the halftime show,” said Shirley, from Sylacauga. “I’m a fan of Justin Timberlake.”
However, there are still a few die hards who are as excited as ever about this year’s game.
“I probably wouldn’t be watching if it weren’t for the Patriots,” said Brent Bussie, of Munford. “My son, Bryer, and I are big Patriots fans. We would like to see Brady break Montana’s records for most wins.”
Xander, a 7-year-old from Pell City, also said he is looking forward to watching the game.
“I want the Patriots to win 100 to 1,” he said.
George Culver, executive director of the Historic Ritz Theatre in Talladega, is also pumped for this year’s Super Bowl.
“I’ve been an Eagles fan for over 40 years,” Culver said. “They are truly my team. I became a fan while attending graduate school in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is such a wonderful city, with so much culture and good people. I hope they can bring it home for the City of Brotherly Love.”
Culver said he was fortunate enough to watch a few Eagles games many seasons ago.
“One of my favorites was an amazing game between the Eagles and 49ers, back when they had Joe Montana, who I’m also a big fan of. The Eagles lost, but it was still a great game,” Culver continued. “This is the most excited I’ve been about a Super Bowl in years.”
Culver predicted the Eagles will win in a nail-biter, 30-24.
Super Bowl LII is set to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. on NBC.