“The mind’s deepest desire, even in its most elaborate operations, parallels man’s unconscious feeling in the face of his universe: it is an insistence upon familiarity, an appetite for clarity.”
“In truth the way matters but little; the will to arrive suffices.”
–Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
So, you excited for this Super Bowl? It’s almost exactly like last year to me. Look, when your team is in the Super Bowl, those two weeks are amazing; you think about the game every day. When your team is not in the Super Bowl, you almost forget football season is still going on. I’m watching Saturday night’s SportsCenter as I type this, and the Super Bowl wasn’t mentioned until 20 minutes into the show.
You can’t expect it to be ahead of BYU-UNLV, can you? Fredette is the Mountain West’s all-time leading scorer? Where’s Keith Van Horn at?
So I’m guessing you don’t think the Pro Bowl is a perfect lead-up to the big game? You know what jumped the shark three years ago? “Irrelevance of the Pro Bowl” jokes.
So I’m guessing you don’t think Super Bowl Media Day is a perfect lead-up to the big game? Ugh, Super Bowl Media Day. If you ever want to talk about the media falling in love with itself…
Only 8.5% of the way through its regular season, the NFL has already been battered by injuries. Several teams, specifically those that wear green, have already lost key players to season-ending maladies of the gruesome variety.*
*Pierre does not link to such grotesquerie as Leonard Weaver’s AHH!
The promptness of such injuries has again allowed people to make light of the NFL’s ridiculous strategy to expand its regular season to 18 games. Now, the NFL has contemplated the Preseason Question for some time now, attempting to balance its clear desire for more money with an equally clear lack of fan interest in games that don’t count in the standings — the equivalent of football “friendlies.”
There are two basic remedies to this issue. The first is to reduce the preseason by a game or two, therein reducing revenue since season-ticket holders pay as much to attend (or, in many cases, not attend) as regular-season games. The second idea alleviates the problems of the first: Cut down the preseason, and, in its place, extend the regular season. Continue reading
“This, to use an American term, in which discovery, retribution, torture, death, eternity appear in the shape of a regularly repulsive nutshell, was it.”
—Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Super Bowl XLIV had been what we expected and more: a first-class battle between two phenomenal quarterbacks coming down to the final four minutes. The only thing that seemed as if it could tarnish this great game was overtime, which is pretty ironic when you think about it.
The final four minutes were already being played out in my head. The Colts would score to tie the game, and the Saints would have a chance to win it late. I saw Garrett Hartley—unsung hero—missing a long field goal and the game going into extra time. I saw Indianapolis winning the coin toss, Manning driving the Colts down the field, and Matt Stover kicking an easy, championship-winning field goal. I saw riots on Bourbon Street about the unfairness of the NFL’s overtime, although I saw karmic retribution in how it worked: The Colts, losers in an OT playoff game last season without touching the ball, would beat the Saints, winners in an OT playoff game two weeks ago because the other team didn’t touch the ball. Continue reading
So we already heard from Tim (and, for that matter, from Michael Weinreb) some especially specific predictions for tonight’s game. Well, I’m not that audacious, but I feel compelled to give you my insights for the Super Bowl. As such, here are some predictions: Continue reading
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
VS. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THIS AMAZING GAME? I don’t know what it is about this year in particular, but I have little to no excitement for the Super Bowl. There are a relatively large number of subplots in the game, with Peyton Manning’s chance to solidify himself as a pantheon quarterback, Dwight Freeney’s ankle, New Orleans’ moribund franchise history, and the Battle of the Pierres. After two weeks of media saturation, I’m just not interested in any of them.
YOU DON’T CARE WHO ARCHIE MANNING IS ROOTING FOR? Who ever thought this would actually interest the American people?
HE’S ROOTING FOR THE COLTS: Stunner.
EVEN THOUGH, YOU KNOW, HE PLAYED FOR THE SAINTS: I’m aware of his personal history.
AND DWIGHT FREENEY MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY! I suppose Dwight Freeney is a great defensive end—one of the best in the league. He has an incredible spin move. But I for one don’t really care whether he plays. I think the Colts will win if Dwight Freeney plays. I think they will win if he doesn’t play—perhaps by a field goal less. Continue reading
“This is a gift I have, simple, simple! a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions. These are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.”
—Holofernes, Love’s Labours Lost
Over the past several seasons, I have really disliked the Indianapolis Colts. This dislike has manifested itself in tangential attacks on the city of Indianapolis, the Colts’ fan base, the fact their stadium is a dome, and even their more or less beyond approach uniforms. The exact derivation of my distaste for Indianapolis was, for a time, unclear. After all, there are few teams pre-adolescent Tim latched onto as intensely as the 1995 Colts and Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh.* I was disproportionately disappointed when Ted Marchibroda left the Colts to coach the Ravens, and even more so when that Indy team slumped to 3-13 in 1997.
*And by “latched onto,” I mean rooted hard for in the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh.
The Colts used their No. 1 pick that year to draft Peyton Manning, and I haven’t really liked them since. Continue reading
Since Tim decided to dub Championship Sunday the most exciting football day of the year (and since we’ll be too busy having fun during the Super Bowl), we felt it necessary to pull out all the stops with a live-blog.Tim, John S, and Josh will all be here during the day as the Jets battle the Colts and the Saints host the Vikings.
6:16, JOHN S – Well, I was neither especially wrong about the Jets nor especially devastated by this loss. But it was nice to see the Jets give the Colts a run for their money. NPI will be back in a few with the NFC Championship game…
6:14, JOSH – It’s been a fun season. Can’t complain about making the AFC Championship game with a Rookie Coach and QB. I look forward to upgrading our secondary and adding another receiving option in the offseason and making another run. I’m out for the NFC Championship coverage (you know, I go to law school and have work and such), but it’s been fun.
6:12, TIM – I just want to say that, for as much as I’ve killed them all season, the Jets had a very impressive year. They’re right up there with “Teams I’ve Been Most Wrong About.” And they were fun to watch. It will be interesting to see how they do next year in what should be a loaded AFC East (yeah, Chan Gailey’s gonna work wonders in Buffalo).
6:10, TIM – Totally agree, John S. Unless Nantz and Simms can definitively prove that the Colts would have lost this game if they had not rested their starters the last two weeks, they’re on thin ice. (Although, the Colts did look especially fresh down the stretch…) Continue reading
Who cares about Bob Dylan when there’s football to be played? In New Orleans Town! I made the case last week that the Divisional Playoff round is the sport’s best weekend, Championship Sunday is its best day (until a fortnight from now, when I say the same thing about the Super Bowl, obvs). With two intriguing games and a lot of suffering fan bases with some karmic reparations due, it should be fun.
#2 Minnesota Vikings at #1 New Orleans Saints
Remember when everyone thought this was inevitable? Oh yeah.
And remember when you said it wasn’t? Me? When would I say such a thing?
There was a time when a second-round upset was a huge deal. They didn’t happen too often, so when Lin Elliott cost the 13-3 Chiefs a game against Jim Harbaugh and the Comeback Colts in 1995, it resonated throughout the league. Even though the AFC’s top seed would lose each of the next two seasons (Denver, and then Kansas City again to Denver in 1997), I remember these upsets being shocking on the same level of a 1-8 upset in the NCAA Tournament. The team that dominated the regular season was gone, just like that.
We’ve kind of changed that perspective the last few years, haven’t we? A second-round upset is now kind of like a 5-12 game; it isn’t a matter of if it’s going to happen, but rather to whom. Home teams are just 5-7 the last three years in the second round, with three of the four falling a season ago. Prior to 2007, the NFC’s top seed had won 17 straight in the divisional round. It’s now on a two-game slide.
It’s in this second round that the NFL has more closely resembled Major League Baseball’s playoffs, with freakish upsets happening seemingly out of the blue. On paper, the Panthers were better than the Cardinals last year, the Cowboys better than the Giants before that, the Chargers better than the Patriots before that, the Colts better than the Steelers before that. But it’s been working out less and less frequently on the field, which is what has definitively made this the most intriguing weekend of the NFL season year in and year out these days. You have all the best teams playing in four games spread across two days.
The only hard thing about it is trying to predict what’s going to happen. Continue reading
Aught Lang Syne mercifully comes to a close today, 33 days after it started so grandiloquently with that maudlin eulogy to the Aughts. We finish by counting down our top three athletes of the decade. You can find Part I of the countdown here.
5. Torry Holt (157 G, 868 rec, 12,504 yds, 68 TD, 7 Pro Bowls)
4. Tony Gonzalez (158 G, 828 rec, 9,939 yds, 67 TD, 9 Pro Bowls)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson (140 G, 2,878 att, 12,489 yds, 138 TD, 5 Pro Bowls, 1 MVP)
2. Peyton Manning (159 G, 65.9% comp, 42,159 yds, 314 TD, 9 Pro Bowls, 3 MVPs, 1 SB MVP) Continue reading