The FOX telecast of the Super Bowl offended my math sensibilities when it compared the championship pedigree of teams representing Atlanta and Boston/New England in this country’s major professional leagues.
It was during the Patriots’ stupendous comeback and the Falcons’ monumental collapse that FOX showed the graphic:
Greater Boston had 36 championships in the NFL, NBA, NHL and major league baseball, and Atlanta had one.
Once the Patriots swept down the field to start overtime, that number was updated to 37-to-1 and became widely circulated.
“Hogwash,’’ I say.
Metro Atlanta might now have a population of 5.5 million, but remember this: We became an actual major league “market’’ in the Twin Cities a half-decade before did Atlanta.
The Falcons became the NFL’s 15th franchise in 1966, five years after the Vikings became the NFL’s 14th. The Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, five years after the original Washington Senators started playing as the Twins on the Bloomington prairie.
The Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season. Minnesota was in the midst of a 29-year gap without an NBA franchise at that time.
(Note: No Timberwolves’ jokes here, please. I’m very serious about math.)
Atlanta received an NHL expansion franchise in 1972, and the Flames played eight seasons before moving to Calgary. The city received another NHL expansion franchise with the Thrashers for the 1999-2000 season and lasted 11 seasons (remember, there was a lockout year) before moving to Winnipeg in 2011.
To continue the Minnesota comparison, the North Stars were here for 26 seasons, and the Wild has completed 15 seasons – again, subtracting the lockout of 2004-05.
Put it this way:
Let’s say there was a Falcons-Vikings NFC Championship this January (as I recall, there was one a while back), FOX could have offered the graphic that Minnesota had seven champions in the four major professional leagues and Atlanta had only one.
The TV manipulators would do so by including the five titles officially recognized by the NBA that were won by the Minneapolis Lakers – 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954.
Thus, they would be telling us that Atlanta fans should feel extra-deprived over five titles won by a Minnesota NBA team, when the last of those came 14 years before Atlanta had a team – the last one won six years before Dominique Wilkins was born?
Come on, let’s get reasonable here. The true comparison would be this: Twin Cities-2 championships (Twins, 1987 and 1991); and Atlanta-1 (Braves, 1995).
In the name of math purity, we’re throwing out baseball’s lost World Series season of 1994 as well as the NHL’s lockout..
If you go back to the arrival of the Twins and the Vikings in 1961, Minnesota teams have completed 179 seasons in the major pro sports leagues to gain those two championships. If you go back to the arrival of the Braves and Falcons in 1966, Atlanta has had 168 seasons to celebrate its one championship.
Plus, Morten Andersen did make his 38-yarder after Gary Anderson missed his 38-yarder.
But here’s my real complaint: Boston/NE 37 championships, Atlanta one.
I want a bigger come on – COME ON! – for that one.
Included in FOX’s accounting were nine World Series championships – including five won between 1903 and 1918 by the Red Sox, and one for the Boston Braves in 1914. The real number vs. Atlanta is the three World Series won by the Red Sox since they ended an 86-year championship drought in 2004.
Also in the accounting:
Celtics-17 NBA titles, even though 10 came before the Hawks arrived in Atlanta. Real number vs. Atlanta-7.
Bruins-6 NHL titles, only one of which occurred when Atlanta had a hockey team.
Patriots–5 Super Bowls, and we have to give Boston/NE credit for all of these, including the one puked away by the Falcons on Sunday.
Listen, what I’m trying to do here is relieve a bit of Atlanta’s anguish.
Greater Boston might have 37 championships in the four majors, but it has taken 374 seasons (including 49 for the Braves) to gain those trophies. And, a mere 16 of those championships have been won in seasons in which Atlanta had a team in the league.
Now, that should make you feel better in Dixie: 16 champions to one in favor of those funny-talking New Englanders, not 37-1.
Stay proud -- and hot, ‘Lanta.