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Monday, February 7, 2011

Green and yellow, green and yellow

In this publicity image released by Disney, Super Bowl MVP Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers takes a celebratory ride with Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 after the Packers' 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL football Super Bowl XLV game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Disney, Gene Duncan)
What a season by the Green Bay Packers. They put a record 15 players on injured reserve, including their starting running back, starting tight end, and best middle linebacker. They lost future hall of fame defensive back Charles Woodson midway through the title fight as well as veteran wideout Donald Driver—seen standing in a boot on the sidelines. Pittsburgh, also, suffered no shortage of injuries. Their offensive line consisted of three backups. Three! Thank god Roethlisberger was quarterback, because he may have been the only passer in the game today who could stay upright playing behind two backup tackles, and a backup center. There’s no way these two squads should have made it all the way to the big show, but they did—thanks to incredible depth, a wealth of inspirational veterans, coaching, and two of the best quarterbacks alive. Congratulations to both organizations, as they both tore through much healthier teams.

I hate to bring this miserable topic up, but it needs to be said. Who the hell wants an 18 game schedule besides greedy owners, and a commissioner who kisses ass with the best of them? I’m literally shaking as I write this—it makes me that angry. SI writer Peter King polled his twitter followers about the addition of two extra games, and 81.2 percent voted either to keep it the way it is or to knock off two preseason games. So no, Roger Goodell, fans don’t want an 18 game schedule. And why is that? Because teams are consistently devastated by injury, and as we saw this season, even the Super Bowl participants. The Steelers and Packers persevered despite the wounds because of depth, but is that what we really want? Could you imagine how many more injuries would be suffered with the addition of two extra games? A CRAP TON. Teams would be literally dragging themselves to the finish line like one of those morbid “Death Race” films. Star power is part of what makes sports so great. Sorry Matt Cassel, but 2008 just wasn’t as fun without Tom Brady. How often in life does the disease of more ruin great things? I fear that the NFL is getting two big for its own good, and the 18 game schedule will push it over the top.

Go ahead, make it 18, make some more money in the short term, and watch when no one pays attention to the NFL as the talent pool is consistently deluded by the increased amount of injuries. GOOD IDEA.

I feel like Frank Barone right now, but on to the next complaint. Anyone else a little disgusted by Seating Gate, even if the victims did get a triple refund at face value? The Super Bowl is an event, a night to remember. Not many folks are lucky enough to attend one, and those that do treasure the experience forever. I was able to attend the 2007 Bowl’, and along with rolling my first blunt (kidding), and surviving a fishing trip in which I nearly died of hypothermia thanks to gale force winds and torrential rain (at least, that’s how I remember it) it was the highlight of my life. Getting triple the amount of what you paid to attend the game is not a bad consolation prize, but robbing a fan of a moment that will last a lifetime (don’t worry, this isn’t a Zales commercial) is a crime.

When my father and I attended the 2007 Super Bowl, one of the biggest observations that stuck with us (besides the anguish accompanying the incredible Velcro-helmet catch made by a player no longer in the league) was the meticulous organization that made 90,000 drunk adults piling into a stadium seem like a cake walk. We barely ever had to wait, the lines moved quickly, and it was overall a smooth operation. For those of us used to waiting 6 hours for some stupid ride at Six Flags it was quite a shock.

By all accounts, the operation in Dallas was not nearly as painless, including a number of fans not able to take their seats because a section of the stadium consisting of “temporary seating” was deemed unfit by the fire marshal. According to The Dallas Morning News the NFL knew of the issue well before the game, yet decided to zip it hoping it would resolve itself. Sort of like hoping the snow would just go away, right? Roger Goodell announced that the 400 affected fans would attend the next Super Bowl as guests of the NFL, but if I’m a Steelers fan I’m still not happy. Few people besides the exclusive “never miss a Super Bowl club” are able to attend multiple championships. Even fewer can enjoy watching their favorite team win a championship in person (I will now flush my head in a toilet repeatedly).

In that case, it’s a ticket worth a million dollars.

Game Thoughts

1) Packers were the most complete team in the NFL

First we thought it was the Falcons, then the Patriots for sure, and then nobody had any idea. But this Green Bay Packers squad was the most complete in the NFL. I can already here you screaming that the Pack amassed only 50 rushing yards on the ground against Pittsburgh, but nobody runs on that defense anyway. Green Bay won it all because their defense picked up the slack when the offense fell flat, and the offense did the same for the defense. That’s the sign of a true champion. Quick, someone grab me before I jump out the window because of the Patriot’s defense…

2) Ted Thompson shows everyone how to build a team

Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, B.J Raji—core of the Packers, all acquired via the draft. Tramon Williams, Green Bay’s other corner was cut in camp by the Texans in 2006 and wisely picked up by the Pack. He’s now a Pro Bowl level defensive back. The few free agency moves Green Bay has done have been of the low risk, high reward flavor. Don’t get me wrong, dropping Favre was a titanic risk, but Ted Thompson and company knew what they had in Aaron Rodgers, and they knew they couldn’t leave him on the bench for long. So in that respect, I guess the only risk came from the backlash they would suffer at the hands of the media.

And where would the Packers be without the depth Thompson amassed? How many offenses recover from the loss of their staring halfback and Tight End? What about their starting middle linebacker, traditionally the quarterback of the defense? Green Bay had a continuous stream of athletes capable of stepping into the starter’s shoes which allowed the team to not miss a beat. That’s an organization with a true eye for talent…

3) All of us can take a little something from the journeys of Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers

For those working towards a goal, whatever it may be, or however unattainable it may seem, take inspiration from two of Green Bay’s biggest stars. Matthews didn’t even start in high school, as his coach (his own father) declined to start him because of his (then) small size. He garnered no interest from recruiters and opted to attend USC in hopes of becoming a walk on for the Trojans. There, he didn’t become a starter until his senior season, but worked hard enough to earn three consecutive Special Teams Player of the Year awards. And of course, the rest his history.

Aaron Rodgers, because of his short stature out of High School (5’10), opted to attend Butte Community College instead of accepting a walk-on offer from Illinois, his only offer. At Butte, his play was exceptional and he was recruited by the University of California, Berkeley. At Cal, Rodgers set records, led his team to victory, and was picked 24th overall in the 2005 draft. That’s two guys, through hard work and a thick skin, reaching the pinnacle of their sport. Rodgers may have just grabbed the title of “Best Quarterback in the League” while Clay Matthews is certainly among the most feared pass rushers in the game. What a couple of stories…

4) Green Bay uses the spread attack to great effect…

It wasn’t a big surprise that the Pack utilized the spread against Pittsburgh; after all, they deactivated their fullback before game time. But it worked well, as many analysts predicted. When Rodgers was protected, he threw some amazing balls, and put up 31 against the best defense in the league. If it wasn’t for James Jones’s huge drop the Pack would have put up 37—close to the 39 New England scored against the Steelers with their spread heavy attack in week ten. Pittsburgh badly needs more depth in the back end, and a better man coverage corner that is so critical to Dick LeBeau’s scheme.

Half-time show rating: 6/10

If you blocked your ears, concentrated on either Fergie or the perplexing helmet-thing wore, and enjoyed Usher’s dancing, it wasn’t that bad. And by not that bad, I mean it’s better than most of the shows we’ve had to suffer through over the past five years. Say what you want about the Black Eyed Peas singing ability, but the beats were enjoyable, the costumes were just wacky enough to keep me looking, and the appearance of Slash and Usher were just surprising enough to keep me interested. But I will say this, if I ever hear Fergie massacre “Sweet Child of Mine” again—one of my all-time favorite songs—I might have an aneurysm.

Super Bowl Commercials—5.5/10

Pretty big letdown this year, though there were a few gems. My favorite was the Snicker’s promo with Richard Lewis not quite feeling up to lumberjacking (believe it or not, that’s a word). Seeing Richard Lewis never gets old, he looks like a mortician on his way to a My Chemical Romance concert.

My other favorites included the Volkswagen add with the kid dressed up as Darth Vader (not necessarily funny, but really cute) and the Eminem one where he was reppin’ the Motor City.

And my man liscence would need to be revoked if I didn't mention the Kim Kardashian Sketchers promo. That one in itself bumped up the commercial rating a healthy 2.5 points. Sketcher's really understands it's viewership, doesn't it?

Also, am I the only person on the planet looking forward to the Super Eight movie? Haven’t heard any talk about the film at all.

What a great six months of football--let's get ready for an intense, maddening, and fascinating offseason. As, always, I'll be on the front lines reporting to you the latest and greatest information. And by front lines, I mean lying on my bed, sipping a lemonade, in a coma-like state.

1 comment:

  1. the packers put 15 players on IR but good article besides that small tidbit.