by CATO RAND
Super Bowl XLVIII
Another National Football League (NFL) season has come to an end with the Seattle Seahawks crowned Super Bowl champions, defeating the Denver Broncos (43 – 8) in the championship game – a result that even the most optimistic Seahawks fan must find shocking.
Going into the game I gave Denver the edge as I thought the Peyton Manning-led offense would be able to post enough points to be victorious. Seattleʼs offence had sputtered in the playoffs and wasnʼt exactly lighting up the scoreboard towards the end of the regular season.
So much for my analysis. On Super Bowl Sunday the Broncos looked as if they had not practised in weeks. Seattle clearly dominated the game and so imperious was the Seahawks defence that one was left wondering if Denver could even score a field goal. The performance by Manning should hopefully put an end to the debate re Manning being listed among the greatest of quarterbacks to have played the game. The Broncoʼs loss puts Manningʼs playoff record at 11-12 . All those losses obviously cannot be blamed on Peyton but he clearly has not played well when the bright lights come on. I do consider Peyton a better signal caller than his contemporary Tom Brady of the New England Patriots , but I do not think Peytonʼs visage can be placed on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks.
And so football junkies like myself will have to wait for months – the 2014 season kicks off in September – for the return of what I would argue is the greatest game that the mind of man has conceptualized.
Whose time is it?
Considering the paucity of repeat Super Bowl champions (8 teams have repeated since the first Super Bowl in 1967) I think we can safely rule out the Seahawks of consideration for winning next yearʼs title game. That is certainly good news for a San Francisco 49ers fan like myself. However the 49ers will have to do a much better job on offense. Call me old school but I am not a fan of the so called running quarterbacks such as the 49ers Colin Kaepernick. I cannot see the 49ers being Super Bowl champions until they consistently score points with Kaepernick throwing the ball into the end zone. I have soured on the 49ersʼ brain trust of head coach Jim Harbough and offensive coordinator Greg Roman ever since the team came up short in Super Bowl XLVII. With 3 attempts from the 5 yard line, in the dying moments of the game, the 49ers could not score a touchdown to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and gain their sixth hold on the Vince Lombardi trophy. I had hoped that Roman would be lured away by one of those teams replacing their head coaches at seasons end. I do not consider Roman to be this offensive guru as he is claimed to be by the many pundits that populate sports media.
It is getting late
Speaking of gurus it will be interesting to see the off-season moves made by the New England Patriots as the tandem of head coach Bill Belicheck and quarterback Tom Brady attempt to win their fourth Super Bowl ring. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years (2002 – 2005) but have not been able to snare that fourth ring despite trips to the title game in 2008 and 2012 when on both occasions they were defeated by the New York Giants.
For all his brilliance as a head coach I cannot understand Belicheck the general manager. The Patriots continue to put teams on the field that cannot run the ball, generate a pass rush or defend the pass. The Patriots will not be champions until they correct these glaring weaknesses. It does not matter how many yards the Patriots average on the ground as they cannot consistently line up on third and short and run the ball to gain that first down and on the other side of the ball, opposing teams seem to be in a better position on third and long than third and short as first down is almost a guarantee.The Patriots cannot rush the passer and their defensive backs are consistently scorched by opposing wide receivers – even those you would not accuse of being elite.
The television rating numbers for Super Bowl XLVIII (seen by an average 112.2 million viewers and thus the most watched telecast in the history of USA television) patently illustrates the popularity of pro football. I was particularly surprised at the numbers considering the game was a blowout. My surprise comes against the backdrop of the Harris poll that showed for the 30th year in a row football is the most popular sport in the USA. The game certainly lends itself to television viewership and its blend of the physical and the cerebral is unmatched by the other sports that enjoy widespread appeal among Americans.
But there are storm clouds on the horizon. The issue of concussion and its role in the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy may eventually result in less persons being willing to participate in the game. Will pro football go the way of boxing? Will the gridiron player become as endangered a species as the American heavyweight boxer?
In their efforts to grow the game and increase revenue (approximately US$ 9 billion per year) owners are hinting at among other things adding at least another team to the playoffs, having a team based in London and eventually going to 18 game regular season. Many fans like myself think the present format of the league is the incarnation of the Goldilocks principle and urge the owners not to mess with perfection .
Sam is the Man
The NFL will soon be welcoming its first openly gay player. Defensive end Michael Sam (University of Missouri) recently declared that he is gay. For the upcoming NFL draft It will be interesting to see if teams shy away from him because of his sexuality. I do not think teams will see him as a lesser player and not macho enough for the pro game (he was voted 2013 SEC co defensive player of the year)because he is gay , but I suspect many general managers will not want the media circus that will definitely surround Sam and the distraction for the team that might ensue.
The NFL locker room is generally viewed as one of the final frontiers of conservative social values in America and it is hoped that Sam does not face an environment in which he feels very uncomfortable. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has an openly gay brother, is already saying the right things and lets hope that it is a seamless transition from the college game (Sam had came out to his fellow Missouri players) to professional football for Sam.
Sports in the past has provided America with a platform to debate issues such as race (Jackie Robinson), gender (Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs) and religion (Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali) and has played a significant role in the continued march towards the tolerant and sensitive society that all yearn for, and while Sam entering the league will not be same as baseballʼs Jackie Robinson being embraced by Pee Wee Reese, lets hope that Sam will be greeted with open arms.
Right From Yaad takes this opportunity to acknowledge the life and work of William Alexander Anthony “Bunny Rugs” Clarke (6 February 1948 – 2 February 2014), also known as Bunny Scott, – former frontman for Third World and certainly one of the best voices that graced reggae – who died recently. I particularly enjoyed his vocals on numbers such as ‘Now that we have found love’ , ‘Always around’ and ‘Roots with quality’ .
By the way what has become of Fredericka Wright – former standout 400m athlete?
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.