…and then there were three.
Nope, I’m not talking about a Genesis album (though there is one playing as I type this). There’s three games left in the 2010 NFL season. The two conference championships between the Packers vs. Bears and the Jets vs. Steelers followed by the Super Bowl. Notice I did not include the Pro Bowl that occurs between the championships and the Super Bowl. Nobody cares about the Pro Bowl.
I’m hoping these will be some good games this Sunday. They could be the last we will be seeing for a while.
On the horizon is the great possibility of a lockout of the players by the owners in there’s not a new collective bargaining agreement in place by March 4. Both the owners and the players union are dug in to their respective positions and playing the blame game. There are no negotiations going on between the two sides.
I won’t get into the specifics because frankly I don’t much care. There are a series of articles on the National Football Post that explains the reasons for the conflict in great detail. For my part, I am not choosing between the players and the owners. I do not know which side is right or wrong. I just want my NFL football next fall.
How I get it and who the winners and losers are is irrelevant to me. When I’m sitting in front of my TV with a cold beverage in one hand and the remote in the other I just want to be able to kick back and chill for three hours. Millionaires fighting with billionaires over money doesn’t hold my interest.
Some other thoughts standing on the verge of the Super Bowl:
- It was the same old song and dance for the Winbush brothers as all three of our teams, the Browns (5-11) , 49ers (6-10) and the Raiders (8-8) finished the season in their usual positions: out of the playoffs. All three teams shit-canned their crappy coaches and will enter 2011 with new leadership and high hopes for a return to respectability. IF there is a 2011 season.
- With the 49ers in their usual post-season place (watching from the cheap seats like everyone else), I have no rooting interest in who ends up in the Super Bowl. I’m a little sick of the Steelers, but I find them a bit less annoying than the Jets. No team in the league swaggers more than the Jets and has accomplished less. So they beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in respective weeks. Good for them. After all the mad shit they talked leading up to the Patriots game last week it would have been an embarrassment if they had lost. Fortunately, they did not and spared me the annoyance of the “Bill Belichick is a super genius and Tom Brady is Jesus” storyline. Tired of it and don’t wanna hear it anymore.
- Speaking of Brady, Belichick and the Patriots, what profits a team to go 14-2 during the regular season (with one of those losses being served up by the lowly Browns) only to get punked in their first game of the playoffs. The Hoodie had two weeks to work his magic against the Jets, a team they had smoked 45-3 back in December. If I were a Patriots fan I’d have to ask myself, “What in the hell is going on here?”
- I have beau coup respect for Brady as one of the NFL’s élite quarterbacks, but I cannot stand the way the league protects him from a defensive player even looking at him cross-eyed. One of the worst moments of the season came when Brady whined to the officials and they threw a penalty flag on the Ravens due to his goading. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote a column that nailed how protecting Brady goes beyond the five big boys on his offensive line:
It was October of last year in Foxborough. The Patriots and Baltimore Ravens were playing in one of the more-hard fought games of the year. In it, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was pummeled repeatedly, by my count, a minimum of five times. The last hit on Flacco led to a roughing penalty.
Brady was hit only twice and both times the Ravens were called for roughing the passer. One hit was borderline and the other looked legal. The penalties called on Baltimore were key because they extended both drives and led to Patriots scores.
This is the interesting part. On one of the Brady hits a game official was standing almost directly next to Brady. He watched the hit. The official did nothing … until Brady angrily expressed his displeasure to the official.
Brady claimed the hit was a penalty and then about one second after he complained the official threw the flag. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not witnessed the scene with my own two eyes. It looked clearly as if Brady’s complaining had influenced the call.
The Ravens were generally incensed over the two calls and, later specifically how Brady basically goaded the official into throwing a flag.
“Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said afterward. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play. When you have two great teams that are going at it, let them go at it. Both of their touchdown drives had personal fouls that kept drives alive. Did that win or lose the game? No, but it got them 14 points.”
- Hard hits are part of the game and when you take the hitting out of it it’s just flag football. Network executives and the fans pay big money to watch Tom Brady vs. Payton Manning, not their scrub backups, Brian Hoyer vs. Curtis Painter. I get that you can’t demand the big money for scrubs, but it’s getting so even knocking a quarterback down is going to get the laundry flying. It’s not football anymore when it gets to that point.
- I think it was a good season, but not a great one. I saw a few exciting games, but a lot of boring ones plagued by risk-free play-calling and unimaginative offense. Then again, I am a 49ers fan, so I should be used to that kind of thing. The most fun game was the Browns vs. Saints game with the Brownies pulling out all the stops with trick plays and fake punts. It was absolutely nuts, but hell, when you’re a bad football team like the Browns, do you have to be boring too? No you do not, and if more coaches would unclench and take the leash off their players, the NFL would be a lot more exciting than it is. Too many running plays up the middle for three yards may be safe, but it is boring as fuck to sit there and watch.
The day of the Super Bowl has become an unofficial national holiday. President Obama says he’ll be there in Dallas to watch his beloved Bears if they beat the Packers this Sunday (sorry Mr. President, but I don’t think they will). I’m taking the day off and plan on being armed with plenty of food and drink as I settle in to watch a lot of expensive commercials, an over-hyped game, and typically a putrid halftime show. Prince dancing in high heels and playing an electric guitar in the rain was one of the best performances in recent memory while last year’s appearance by what’s left of The Who was god-awful as the two original members who haven’t dropped dead yet wheezed through a sorry-ass show.
Not that I’m expecting this year’s act , the overexposed/under talented Black Eyed Peas to be any better. Hoping for the best. Preparing for the worst.