It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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The Super Bowl Participants are decided.  There is no football this week.   It's too early to give Super Bowl picks, so what's a guy to do?   Well, there are always other sports to talk about, nah, there's still plenty of football to cover.

For the second year in a row, my daughter watched nearly every minute of the Championship games with me.  Last year, she wouldn’t go down for a nap, because the Bears game was still going.  This year, she sat with me and screamed “Good play” a lot.  My wife also took the time to introduce Brett Favre to her…so that every few minutes my daughter to turn to me and ask…

“Where is Favre?”

I would have to point him out quickly or hear the question 19 more times.  After the game, when I told her that Favre’s team had lost, she said “Poor Favre.  Maybe I could give him a hug?”

On the one hand, my daughter knows who Favre is…on the other…why in the heck is she empathizing with a Packer?

While pointing out Favre to my daughter, and watching the game…I found time to do a live blog of the game as well.  It was a lot of fun, and a big thanks is in order to all that came out and joined in on the fun.  But in the process of watching a game, blogging and commenting, and keeping my daughter up to speed on the game...well…a few key points weren’t flushed out in the blog…let’s clean that up now…

Patriots 21 Chargers 12

The key players for the Pats?  Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney.  The Pats RBs just came up huge in this game, out playing the more hyped WRs.  And that’s what’s scary about this team…you shutdown one facet of their game…and another beats you.  Both these guys will play a big role in the Super Bowl as well.

Why was LT on the sideline?  You’re 3 quarters away from the Super Bowl…there is no tomorrow…he was STANDING on the sideline with his helmet on…and he didn’t go in the game?  My guess is it wasn’t his decision to hold him out…so why Norv?  He’s the heart of the team, the best player you have…at the very least trot him out there for a few series to make the Pats think and to boost the moral of your team.  Instead, there were several shots of players walking up and talking to LT and then getting confused and pissed looks on their face…not good.

And Norv, while I have your ear…what’s with the super conservative game plan?  The only chance you have to beat this Pats team is to take full advantage of the chances you have.  It means playing on edge…taking a risk and living with the consequences…we’ve seen all season that if you give this team any chances, they will beat you.  So when you get a chance, you have to take it.  Rivers was completing passes to Jackson and Chambers at will…but then once in the Red Zone…those passes stopped.  And there were at least 2 4th downs that you NEEDED to go for…and you took the coward’s way out.  The football gods love bold moves…and they laugh at wimpy ones…they are laughing at you, Norv.

Giants 23 Packers 20

Favre, what happened?  In the first half you looked good.  Got the big play, and were able to move the ball.  Then the 2nd half came, and it’s as if you forgot how to play.  And why is it that Green Bay went away from the rollouts?  The first drive those were working great…and then we never saw them again.  Just a head scratcher…you’d think the ball in Favre’s hand with the game on the line was a good thing…but not this game.

Then again, Brett didn’t get a lot of help.  Ryan Grant did nothing.  And Al Harris and Charles Woodson looked like they had never covered a WR in their lives.  Al, you’re jock is still out there on the field some where, you might want to pick it up.

The last several years, the Giants have crashed and burned down the stretch.  It was always assumed (yes, I’m guilty as well) that it was because of Eli and Coughlin.  But isn’t it strange that Tiki Barber retires, and suddenly this team surges at the end of the season?  And even more telling…Jeremy Shockey, the other out spoken critic of the team, gets injured and then the team REALLY kicks into gear?  Chemistry is a very underrated thing these days…with the prevalence of fantasy sports, we forget that just putting the best players out there, does not make for the best team.  This Giants team is a perfect example of that.

That takes care of the Championship games…what’s next?  Right, the Super Bowl.  Well, it’s not time for a pick yet, but there is something that needs to be talked about…

We’ve all been there.  Trust me, you have.

You’re out with a group, sitting around chatting about things and making each other laugh.  One of your friends leans over and says…

“Man, tell them about the time at your mom’s house with the umbrella!”

You look around at the group, they are all looking at you, and while it’s a decent story, it needs to sort of naturally flow into a conversation, not get forced upon people …”Nah, maybe another time.”

“No, dude, tell them…this story is so frickin’ funny,” your ever helpful friend gushes.

Trying hard not to squirm, you say “Nah, hey, anyone need anything?”

“Come on, tell them the story…every time I hear this story, I nearly fall on the floor laughing.” The friend says, as hey pushes you back into your seat.

“Seriously, I don’t want to tell that story.”  You can feel the impending doom…the group is all on the edge of their seats for this one…your friend won’t stop…and punching him in the mouth won’t help.  He keeps going on, building up the story…and then it happens…another member of the group pipes up…

“Oh, come on, tell the story.”

And then it’s a death march.  Everyone else starts chiming in with their own appeals to you to tell the story.  The whole group wants to hear this story…it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  They will be laughing for hours once you tell this story.  You’ll be the hero, the person they all want to buy a drink for…

But in your heart you know that the story isn’t that good.  It can’t live up to this billing.  It could barely live up to itself, let alone this buildup…but you’ve reached a crossroads…you have two choices….

  1. Tell the story, and disappoint them all.
  2. Or frantically run to the bathroom, slip out the back of the building, and catch a cab home.

Most everyone takes option number 1…and it always ends with…

“…so there I was, standing in the door holding an open umbrella as my mom said, ‘You’re not Mary Poppins’. “

And silence…you get a lot of strange, bewildered looks…the friend who built up the story is either trying to laugh, or has snuck out half way through.  Everyone else is sitting there trying to think up something nice to say.  You break the silence first…

“Guess, you had to be there.”

And with that line, the room relaxes a little, and agrees.  But for the rest of the night, no one really wants to hear another story from you.

Yep, we’ve all been there…we’ve all felt that build up…and we’ve all felt that let down.

This is the same problem that the Super Bowl suffers from every year.  It’s the biggest game of the year, pitting two fantastic teams against each other, and it’s seen by more people than any other single sporting event.  How could that go wrong?

Well, give anyone 2 weeks to think, talk and worry about anything this big…and every single possible angle will be covered.  We’re already seeing it…we’ve gotten a taste of…

Eli vs Peyton – Eli made the Super Bowl in his 4th season…it took Peyton 9 to get to the same place…which is better?

Brady’s “injury” – How serious? When did it happen? Can he play? Can the Pats win without him?  While this is a valid story if it’s true…we’re also talking about Belichick here…master of misinformation

Rematch of week 17 – Hey a rematch of a semi-meaningless game!  Woooohoooo!!

The Perfect Season – Yes, it’s historic, and yes it would be amazing…can we just stop talking about it for a few minutes though?

Those are the stories that have already grabbed the attention.  The good news about this game?  There is no dominant “overblown” angle…but the bad news for this game?  There is no dominant “overblown” angle.  What does this all mean?  First let’s look at some of the angles we missed out on…thank god…

Romo-Simpson – Boys fans, I know you had high hopes for the season, but the biggest thought I had when your team lost was “Thank god, now I don’t have to hear 2 weeks straight about all the comings and goings of Romo and Simpson.”  This would have been a media dream, but a football fan’s nightmare.

Manning vs. Manning – The comparisons are already going…can you imagine if the boys made the game against each other?  We would have had to watch about 800 hours of Archie watching them…and another 1000 hours of interviews with them, their friends, their relatives, teammates…etc…all talking about how they always competed against each other.  Yep, guess what, they’re brother…brothers compete.

Brett Favre Idolizing – Now before Packers fans get up in arms…I’m not disrespecting Brett…just the fact that if he had made the game, EVERY media member would sound like Madden.  They’d all be talking about how great he is, how he’s been through so much, how this could be a fitting end to a great career…on and on and on.  Even Packers fans would start to get sick of it.  We already know that Brett is the only man that could fight Chuck Norris and live.

The Pats Losing – What if the Patriots had lost?  The main focus of the 2 weeks would not be the 2 teams that were in the game, but the team that wasn’t there.  The clip of Wade Philips saying “The best team lost” would get a ton more play, and the game would be an after though to the Patriots losing.

Thankfully, we have avoided these stories.  But the problem is so far no story has popped up to fill the void.  At first glance, this is a good thing.  Now let’s take a step back…if there is no OBVIOUS story to fill the media’s need for THE story of the Super Bowl week…well…that means they have to dig a little more…and that’s never good.

The question is, what new angle will they come up with?  What crucial story will dominate the headlines, and yet have zero impact on the outcome of the game?  In trying to be of service to the main stream media, here are some stories that would be great to beat to death….

Jeff Feagles Home Coming – That’s right, Feagles, the 20 year vet will be punting in his home town in the Super Bowl.  If that’s not enough motivation, he broke into the NFL in 1988 with the New England Patriots.  After starting all the games for the Pats in the 88 and 89 seasons, he was cut to make way for Brian Hansen (no relation to current Pats punter Chris Hanson).

The Revenge of Kyle Brady – Kyle Brady was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999, and outlasted Head Coach Tom Coughlin there.  Brady has always had issue with the fact that Coughlin still owes him money from a 2001 bet over which one of them would last the full season.  According to Kyle, “Coach hasn’t given me what is mine, so come this Sunday; I’m going to take it!”  Media members then explained to Brady that the Super Bowl was NEXT Sunday.

The Smarter Pats? – This current Pats team is often lauded for being one of the smartest teams in the league.  Opponents marvel at their ability to read formations and plays and KNOW what is coming.  But it’s quite possible this Giants team is smarter…number of Ivy Leaguers on the Pats?  Zero.  The Giants have 3.  Who’s smarter now tough guy?

Long Awaited Rematch – Chad Scott of the Patriots graduated from Maryland 1996.  Ryan Kuehl graduated of the Giants graduated from Virginia in 1996.  These ACC rivals met in a hard fought game that Viginia eventually won 21-3…behind the running of another former Cavalier…Tiki Barber.  Unfortunately, this is the rematch that will never happen, as both players are on IR.

BCS Champs Angle – The SEC beat up the Big Ten for the 2nd year in a row in the BCS Championship game…at first glance this would favor the Giants, as Eli is a SEC alum, and Brady is a Big Ten grad.  But not so fast…the Pats feature 13 former SEC players to only 6 on the Giants.  Plus, they have 4 players from the champion LSU Tigers, while the Giants only have 1.

Where are the Bears? – This will be the first Super Bowl since March of 2006 that the Chicago Bears will not be participating in.  We were unable to reach any Bears players for comment, but their silence speaks volumes.  On that same note, this blogger would like to point out that the Giants have not lost to the Patriots since December 29th, 2007.

And there you have it.  When you give a large group of people that are paid to write and talk about football, 2 weeks without any games…well…they go a little crazy.  They dig deeper than need be, they start bringing up facts that don’t mean anything, and they start making you believe the game hinges on something it doesn’t.  Part of what the talking heads get paid to do, is to make this game seem closer than it really is.  This is not a dig on the Giants, or compliment to the Pats….it’s just a simple fact…every year after the Championship games, there is a clear favorite.  And every year, the hype machine spends 2 weeks telling us how the underdog can win.  And once every few years, they are right…but then again…every few years I win a fantasy league.  Dumb luck happens to all of us.

The best advice?  Just ignore all the hype.  Talk with your buddies about the game, come up with your ideas about how each team can win…and then sit down and enjoy the game.  It’s way better than listening to 2 weeks of hype, and then tuning into a game that doesn’t live up to the hype…

But it doesn’t need to, it’s the Super Bowl!

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