Super Bowl means tough choices in Auburn for East Coast expats

Foothill fans explain who they will (and won’t) be rooting for
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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It’s hard to be a New England Patriots or New York Giants fan in 49ers and Raiders country.
But with the Raiders bumbling through another subpar season and the 49ers out of the playoff picture, who are you going to turn to on Super Bowl Sunday?
For expatriate East Coasters like Kelly Rogers, who also happens to be a 49ers fan, it’s a matter of maybe just tuning out the game.
Rogers, a recent arrival to Auburn, has lived the last five years in Brooklyn but never really cottoned to Eli Manning and the Giants. Instead, Rogers, who grew up in Palo Alto, said he’ll let the Giants and Patriots duke it out on the gridiron and he’ll hold onto his allegiances to the red and gold.
“I love the 49ers and grew up here and was tremendously disappointed when they lost to the Giants,” Rogers said. “I never got into the Giants and probably won’t even watch the game. But I’ll be watching next season, when the 49ers are hopefully, playing in the Super Bowl.”
Meadow Vista’s Stewart Feldman was raised in Brooklyn and went to college in Boston. The long-time Auburn-area resident said he also holds a place in his sport-loving heart for the 49ers – not the Giants or Patriots.
“I have no dog in the fight but at the Super Bowl party I’m attending I’ll be taking a minority opinion because I’m a contrarian,” Feldman said. “But I’ll actually be rooting for the Patriots because the Giants beat the Niners. I want the Giants to suffer.”
Max Berkowitz, owner of North Auburn Maxis Deli, said he too doesn’t have any particular love for the Giants, despite living in Manhattan in the 1980s.
“I’m originally from the West Coast and was a big Rams fan because pretty much all my family lived there,” Berkowitz said.
Berkowitz said he’s been a 49ers fan after moving to Northern California at a young age. With the Niners out, he’ll be cheering on the Giants.
“I say ‘Down with the Patriots,’” Berkowitz said. “I was really rooting for San Francisco but now, if I have to take sides, I’m behind the Giants.”
Placer High School grad Victor Johnston has a chance to see the New England-New York sports rivalry from up close. The 1968 Placer grad lives in Worcester, Mass., about 40 miles west of Boston.
“Everyone in the whole northeast area is about sports,” Johnston said. “They follow the Red Sox, the Celtics and some Bruins. We pretty much hate the Giants, but hate the Jets worse.”
And like the hard feelings Sacramento Kings have harbored about league favoritism toward the L.A. Lakers, Johnston said that the Patriots faithful are sore losers.
“New Englanders are very close-mouthed but if Boston doesn’t win, the fix is in, absolutely,” Johnston said.
Johnston admits being “sort of” a Raiders fan before leaving California for the East Coast in the 1970s.
“But now you have to root for the Patriots and I invite Auburn to do the same,” Johnston said.

Super Placer connections
Here are a few excuses to root for either the New York Giants or New England Patriots.

If you’re rooting for New York:
You can say it’s because Auburn was named after the city of Auburn, N.Y. The inspiration for naming the “California” Auburn has been lost in the thick mists of time. It could be because a propensity of Auburn, New York expatriates were in the gold fields around Auburn when the decision was made. Or it may have been a vote in a town meeting. Or, some say, it was because people wanted to make the link between the city and a popular poem that used the line “Auburn, the loveliest village of the plains.”

If you’re rooting for the Pats:
Super Bowl-winning linebacker Tedy Bruschi is one of New England’s all-time greatest players. He’s also a Roseville High graduate.
Back in 1914, pitcher Bill James led the Boston Braves to a World Series title. He was born and raised in Iowa Hill , near Colfax. James Field in Auburn is named after his brother, a local dentist.

And if you can’t decide between New York and New England:
Tommy Thompson played in the same outfield with Babe Ruth. But it wasn’t with the Yankees. Thompson, who retired to Auburn and helped coach the 1959 Auburn Little League World Series team, was an outfielder with the Boston Braves when Ruth played his final season with that team in 1935.
– Gus Thomson