It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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The Super Bowl has come and gone.  And history was made, not the history many were expecting, but nonetheless it was made.  And now we enter the time between the last second of the Super Bowl and the opening of training camp, also known as the Dark Ages.  What?  Oh, right, the Off-season.  Tomato, Tomatoe.

The Super Bowl gave us what we all wanted, a great game.  Obviously, Pats fans are not as excited as the rest of us…but they will admit that it was a great finish to a hard fought game…just not an ideal finish.  For me, the game was spent trying to interest my daughter in eating something besides fistfuls of Fritos.  She did stop long enough to shout “OOOooohhh, good play!” and “Wow, that guy tackled him hard”. 

As the game unfolded, there was this feeling of waiting for the Pats to come to life.  The thought of “when are they going to throw the knockout punch?”  When they scored the touchdown to take the lead…most of us thought, “Ah, there it is game over.”  But then Eli and company showed us a different brand of magic…and all I could think about was deodorant….

Don’t worry; I won’t leave you hanging with that…

Although, maybe I’ll make you squirm just a little bit…

Last week, I ran out of deodorant.  Any guy will tell you that’s not a good thing, as, well, us guys tend to stink.  Luckily, my wife was going shopping that day, and I asked her to pick some up for me.  Now let’s step away for a second…

When it comes to buying deodorant, I have always bought it myself.  With out question, I have always grabbed the same brand.  The reason?  Well, that’s the brand I’ve used for the last 6 years.

Returning from work, my wife informed me that she didn’t get my normal brand…”Josh, it costs $8!  Why would you ever pay that much for deodorant?”  In my defense…well…I just never paid attention to it.  The only answer I could muster…

“Cause it smelled like me.”

Her reply was, “Well, you can smell like this now,” handing me a new brand, “Cause it’s only $4”

And that was fine, but it’s been a week, and I just don’t smell like myself.  I don’t smell bad, and it’s not off putting, it’s just that I don’t smell like myself.

Watching the Super Bowl, it seemed like the Pats just didn’t smell like themselves.  Hard to put a finger on it, just seemed like they weren’t all there….

Thanks to that sweat smelling intro, let’s take a quick peek at the Super Bowl…

Giants 17 Patriots 14

Funny, that a point that I keep hammering on is the fact that you need touchdowns to win…and the difference in the game happens to be a passed up FG.  What suprises me about this is that there has been so little made of it.  The Pats pass up a 49 yard FG, for a 4th and 13 play?  I’m all for playing all out, and taking chances…but that seems a bit much.  That’s a play I do in Madden, but don’t expect a real coach to do…but maybe that’s the problem.  This Pats team has been too much like a Madden team all year…maybe Belichick finally bought into it, and said “Screw the kicking game, we can make this.”  If that’s true…well, I have new hope for a future coaching career based off my Madden experience!

Man, the Giants pass rush did their job.  Wow…every play there was someone in Brady’s face.  And they were getting there so quick, that it was nearly impossible for Brady to make any of his normal dump offs.  Just an amazing display of a pass rush….and exactly what they needed to do to win.

On that last Giants drive, did anyone else notice some clock weirdness?  Not trying to push a conspiracy theory by any means, just had a lot of strange clock issues…time wasn’t ticking off…then would suddenly disappear…then reappear…and through it all…not a word from anyone.  Not a “they seem to be having some issues with the clock”.  That just sort of confused me…biggest game of the year…crucial drive…clock is going nuts…and not a word…

Speaking of not saying anything…why is it that Joe Buck doesn’t comment on things like the FG or the Clock…but finds it necessary to over-dramatize everything else?  His single most ridiculous comment from the game came when the camera showed Peyton watching the game, Joe came up with this gem…

“I know Peyton got his trophy last year, but I have a feeling that his brother winning the Super Bowl will mean more to him than his win last year.”

What?!  Seriously, what?!  This one just floored me…but my brother had the right response, he turned to me and said, “Josh, no offense, but me winning a Super Bowl would be a LOT more important than you winning it.”  Does Joe not understand how brothers work?  Yeah, I’m sure Peyton is darn proud of his little bro, but there is no way on this earth that Peyton getting that massive sized monkey off his back last year, means less than his brother winning the trophy this year…just a stupid statement.

At the end of the game, both defenses just looked whipped.  Playing that tight of a game, in a humid stadium…that just saps your energy.  When you’re playing a game where one little slip can mean the game, it just saps your energy.  When Jay Alford gets a key sack on the last drive of the game…you know that the starters were just gassed.  But man, for a 3rd stringer, that’s a highlight for life…that sack basically killed the Pats last second hopes right there.

Besides the pass rush, the other key to the Giants win was 3rd down.  All night, whenever they needed to convert, someone came through.  It didn’t matter how far they had to go, 3rd down just seemed to be the moment when the Giants got things done.  And that’s a huge blow to any defense…when a team is converting 3rd downs all night; it just kicks you right in the jimmy as a defense.

And just a final word on post game coverage…why?  Seriously, it’s the biggest waste of air time ever.  They ask the same questions “How do you feel?”  How do you think the guy feels?  If they won, he feels great, if they lost, they feel like crap.  End of story.

“You just lost the Super Bowl, how do you feel?”

“Well, I feel great Pam, I really do.  Yeah, I’m a little miffed we didn’t win, but I get paid either way, and I know I made more money out there tonight than you did.  So yeah, I feel great, I’m gonna go get changed, go out to a few clubs, and just live it up.”

What a great way to end another great season of football…let’s take a quick peek back over the key moments from this season…

The Records

There were so many records that were broken this year, it’s just unbelievable.  It felt like this was the second season in a brand new copy of Madden.  The first season was spent mastering the slight nuances of the game, and that second season, you break every record in the books.  After that, more fall…but that 2nd season is when most of the damage is done.

The Patriots alone rewrote a large portion of the record books, but everyone got in on the act.  Just a great year for those record lovers out there…

Where have all the Running Backs gone?

Long time passing
Where have all the Running Backs gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Running Backs gone?
Injuries have hurt them, everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Last year, there were 23 thousand yard backs, this year there was 17.
Last year, the Top 10 in rushing average 1493.6 yards, this year they averaged 1278.
Last year, there were 5 backs over 1500 yards, this year there were 0.

Injuries were a big factor, as a large portion of the top 25 from last year missed at least some time to injuries.  But the other factor was the passing game hit new heights this year.  Teams were throwing the ball more and more, and having success doing it.  When something is working, why do anything else?

The question is…for us Fantasy Football people…is next season going to be a continuation of this season?  Or will the running back return?

The Curse Continues…

This one hits close to home…the Super Bowl loser curse continued this year.  The Bears fell back into the pack, done in by injuries, poor play, and questionable personnel decisions.  This curse has been going strong for several years now...with only the Seahawks making the playoffs the next year, but even that wasn’t due from lack of trying, as they played in a terrible division, and just barely qualified.

This brings up 2 questions….

Why has this curse stayed active for so long?

Will the Patriots fall victim to it?

Not sure I have the answer to either of those right now…feel free to come up with your own…

The Browns

Yeah, they missed the playoffs, but not many would of predicted that not only they would they win 10 games, but that they would do it with the worst defense in the league.  And the way they won all those games was just a lot of fun…any team that has the mojo working is always fun to watch.  This rebirth was even more exciting because finally some of the best fans in all of football have something to be happy about.  Finally, after Art Modell ripped their heart out, they have a team again…and that’s great.

But while they were a great story this year, there are 2 very important things for Browns fans to keep their eye on, because they could spell doom for this young team…

Derek Anderson vs Brady Quinn…1 of thesse guys has already proved he’s a great QB, the other has the draft status and paycheck that says he should be the guy.  How the Browns handle this situation will tell a lot about the franchise, and how well they do next year.

The Defense…they need to do something about it.  But if they run out and sign every aging vet off the free agent pool…well…that’s like trying to a fur coat out of roadkill…you’ll have tread marks all over you AND a bunch of dead bodies laying around.

The Lions

They jump out to 6-2, and everyone is all excited in Detroit. Talk of the playoffs abounds, Kitna looks great, Matt Millen looks to be off the hook, and Mike Martz seems destined for a Head Coaching job.

They finish 7-9, and everyone goes back to normal in Detroit.  Talk of the draft abounds, Kitna looks horrible, Matt Millen is back on the hook and Mike Martz is now the Offensive Coordinator for the 49ers.

The only question I have…is it possible that the Lions draft another WR in the first round?  Seriously, is it possible?  Don’t jump to any conclusions people….it’s been 4 in a row…come on big money, no whammies…

The Skins

They were on the fringe of the playoff picture…the proverbial “outside looking in”.  And then tragedy struck…their defensive star, Sean Taylor, was murdered in his house.  The season seemed to be on the edge of spinning out of control.  And then to add injury to tradgedy…

Jason Campbell went down and out for the season.

All looked lost in Redskins country.

But then, magic happened.

When you have week old Mac and Cheese…where the cheese is starting to get a little crusty, and there’s not much spring left in the noodles…there is only one thing that can save you from leftover hell….

A large spoonful of Mayo.  It loosens up the cheese, gives life back to the noodles, and adds a little extra taste to a lifeless leftover.

As the clouds started to gather around the Skins season, Todd Collins became their scoop of Mayo.  He re-energized the team with timely play, and they went on a win streak that got them into the playoffs.  While they lost to the Hawks, it was still a fantastic run, and you know that a certain player was looking down with pride, wondering if he should add just a little more mayo…

Brett Favre

Before everyone starts calling me Madden…

The season started out for Brett with questions about why he returned, and even people saying “He should retire so the Pack can move on and really rebuild.”

And it ended with Favre writing his name all over the record books, and nearly getting to the Super Bowl.  Not bad for a guy that should of retired.  Plus, watching him play, you could see that he was having a blast out there.  And yes, for the next few sentences I’m going to sound like Madden…

The thing I really admire about Favre, is how he plays the game.  Not talent or scheme wise…but how he loves to compete, he loves to play, and he shows it out there.  So many players just go about the game like it’s just a normal day at the office, but Brett…he just has a joy that is great to see.  Is he the greatest QB to play the game?  No.  But he’s darn good, and he’s had a lot of fun doing what he does…and that makes him a-okay in my book.

Adrian Peterson (not that one, the other one…no wait, that one)

Talk about exploding onto the scene in your rookie year.  Peterson had two 200 yard performances, including a record setting 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.  We won’t mention who the other 200 yard performance was against.  Shhhhhh….

But it was more than just the yards, it was the way he got them.  Peterson is one of the most exciting and electric running backs you’ll ever see. He can plow through a linebacker, or juke a DB out of his shorts.  He can turn a 5 yard loss into a 5 yard gain…and a 5 yard gain into an 80 yard TD.

Now, about staying healthy….

For the sake of football fans everywhere, I hope that Peterson’s health problems are a think of the past.  As a fan of a rival NFC North team, part of me hopes he happens to have health problems when ever he plays the Bears.  Regardless, he’ll be fun to watch next year.

Devin Hester and Antonio Cromartie

Lumping these guys together cause they have a similar effect on the game.  They are players that only get their hands on the ball a handful of times every game…but seem to make the most of the times they do.

Hester is the most exciting return man in the game, and if the Bears can work him into the offense better, he could be the most exciting all around player the Bears have had since Gale Sayers.  As a Bears fan, you never leave the room on any punt or kick…because you don’t want to miss that next home run…it’s like knowing that Mark McGwire was coming to bat during his 70 home run season…you didn’t want to walk away, cause the chance for moon shot was so high.

And Cromartie, he gets his hands on the ball even less than Hester…but the interceptions he gets are amazing.  And every time he picks one, he’s looking to score…and that’s exciting in itself.  Plus, that return of the missed FG in the Vikings game?  WOW…can watch that a million times and still not believe he was able to stay in bounds and take it all the way…just amazing.

Perfection…or near perfection….

There’s a weird contradiction in the Retail industry…

As a retail manager, you want customers.  Customers are the point of the business, and allow you to have a job.  The more customers, the more money for the store and yourself.

As a retail employee, you don’t want customers.  Customer are an interruption to your business, which is making money while doing the least amount of work possible.  The less customers, the more money for you with the least amount of hassle.

The problem is that those darn Managers are always looking for ways to get more customers into the building…or sending people home on slow days so that those that are left have to deal with customers.

Every day you hope that you can make it through without a customer…and yet every day, at some point, that frickin’ customer walks in and spoils your day.

Every season there is hope that a team can make it through without a loss…and yet every season, at some point, that frickin’ loss pops up and spoils their day.

But this year, the Pats made it through customer free…errr…loss free…16-0.  It’s never been done.  They ran it all the way to 18-0…and then just as they were ready to close up shop…and frickin’ customer walked through the door, and spoiled everything.  Ah well, next season begins the latest quest for perfection…

Redemption

For 2 coaches, and 1 player….the season ended with a whole lot of redemption…but it started out with a whole lot of headaches….

Norv Turner took over the uber talented Chargers after they went 14-2 the year before…and fired their coach.  Norv walked in a 2 time failure, knowing that this was probably his last shot at a head coaching job.  The Chargers got off to a miserable start…back thanks to a horrible division were able to right the ship and get into the playoffs.  And then Norv got to do something that Marty hadn’t…he got the Chargers to the AFC Championship.  Yes, the Chargers lost…but getting to that game meant a lot to a coach that has been beaten about the head more times than I care to admit.

Tom Coughlin coached the Giants to a late season collapse last year, the 3rd such collapse in a row.  Players were constantly calling out the coach, and questioning all of his calls and decisions.  They showed no real direction or improvement.  Tiki claimed he was forced into retirement due to Coughlin…and even called him out again after he retired.  The Giants got off to a 6-2 start…and then the clouds started to gather overhead…it seemed like another collapse was going to happen…and then…Super Bowl?  Wow….

Eli Manning has had to play is his brother’s shadow his whole career.  No matter how good he is, he’ll always be compared with Peyton.  And this season started off with more questions about his consistency, leadership and stretch drive play.  Tiki called him out as well, saying that the Giants would never win with Eli at QB.  And then something magical happened…without Tiki…without Shockey (another critic)…Eli led the Giants to the Promised Land.  And he alone was holding up the Lombardi trophy…who’s a poor leader now Tiki?

Redemption is a great thing.

That’s the NFL season in review…the end is always bittersweet…on the one hand what a great finish and we have our champion…on the other hand…it’s over.  There are 6 months before Sundays are spent on the couch watching all the games…and that means there are 6 months of Sundays filled with doing work around the house….argh.

Everytime my daughter watches Jungle Book, when we go to turn it off…she always cries.  She’s seen it a million times, and knows that it’s always there to watch…but every time the DVD players goes off…so do the tears.

As the last seconds of the Super Bowl ticked off…I knew how she felt.  I know I’ll see football again, but as the game ended, I was still overwhelmed with sadness for the end of the season.  Ah well, the draft is just around the corner…so look for the Bare Necessities…

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