For a stalwart Dallas Cowboys fan like Pete Garcia Jr., picking who to root for on Sunday is a no-brainer.
“The major factor is the 49ers, I just never have liked them,” Garcia said referencing the Cowboys’ decades-long rivalry with San Francisco. “We were rivals even back in the 60s. I even remember (when Dallas) played John Brodie, the quarterback for the 49ers back then, and we used to beat them all the time.”
Garcia, 67, is a lifelong resident of Weslaco who doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t rooting for the Cowboys. The public works director for the city, Garcia is often seen wearing the star on his baseball caps and clothes — that is when he’s not reppin’ the Weslaco High Panthers or Weslaco East Wildcats.
His love for the team is also evident in the plastic bins he’s filled with paraphernalia and clothes — like the jerseys, sweaters and jackets he’s amassed over the years.
“My wife doesn’t know what to do,” he said with a chuckle before lamenting the possibility of San Francisco winning their sixth Super Bowl ring, which would be one more than his beloved Cowboys. “So I don’t want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. And you know what, one other factor is I really want the Chiefs to win because I like their coach (Andy Reid) and their quarterback (Patrick Mahomes), who’s an East Texas boy. I think a lot of the Cowboys fans here feel the same way. They’re all for the Chiefs.”
Houston Texans fans may feel a little differently about whose side to take.
Ruben Ochoa, for instance, hasn’t really made a decision about who he’s rooting for and simply hopes the game is competitive.
And while the Harlingen resident and Texans fan “since the very beginning” would like to root for the underdog, as many seem to do when their team isn’t playing in the big game, he’s got something else to consider.
“All in all, as long as my number hits I don’t care who wins,” Ochoa, 42, laughed about what he has at stake on the Super Bowl. “Honestly, I just want to see a competitive game, and I might slightly root for the Chiefs, I guess. It’s just upsetting that for one quarter it looked like we were going to move on to the next round, and then a quarter later … what happened?”
Ochoa was referring to the Chiefs’ spectacular comeback victory against the Texans, overcoming a 24-0 hole in the divisional round of the playoffs to win 51-31 and advance. It was all too reminiscent of the Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills playoff game in 1993, when the Bills overcame a 35-3 deficit to win 41-38.
As an Oilers fan, Ochoa still hasn’t forgotten the sting of what’s now referred to as “The Choke.”
“I’ve had a lot of heartache,” Ochoa said in description of the plight of Oilers and Texans fans.
Still, and like Garcia, recent woes haven’t stopped Ochoa from collecting Texans gear for him and his family.
San Benito resident Juan Carlos Juarez said, “My team is the Philadelphia Eagles, but I am rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. My team lost already so I have to pick a better team. A group of about four of my family members get together to BBQ and drink while we watch the game.”
Daniel Zuniga of Primera said, “I usually root for the San Francisco 49ers, since I was a little kid. I am rooting for the 49ers of course. I usually stay at home and BBQ with the family. I have my spot on the sofa in front of the TV, and I don’t move until the game is over, basically. My wife usually watches with me and sometimes my mom, brother and maybe some friends come over sometimes.”
Harlingen resident Raul Salazar said, “My team is the Patriots. I love the Patriots, but I am rooting for the Chiefs because they are in our division and because of Mahomes, the quarterback. He’s a good quarterback. I have a family get-together. We have a Super Bowl party regardless who is in the Super Bowl, just being the fan enjoying the sport. Let’s have a get-together, that’s basically what I do.”
The Valley Morning Star contributed to this report.