Thursday, February 07, 2008

Super Bowl Review

I was hungover for about two days after the Super Bowl. I'm pretty sure I wrote an e-mail to a sports columnist on Sunday night that used the word "douchebag" 26 times. And, then, it was kinda like, "The Super Bowl was soooooo Sunday."

At any rate, I have to say that I was pretty much right about everything. The Giants did what I said they needed to do. And then some. I've never seen Brady that harassed. I've never seen him that frustrated. I've never seen him that confused. It's a lot like the look someone has on their face when they dominate a video game on Easy for four months, then decide, "How much tougher can Moderate be? Fuck it. I'm gonna try Expert." They constantly glance down at the controller, they furiously pound on the buttons, they stare wide-eyed at the TV and anyone that happens to be watching, then they ultimately hit the re-set button. The Patriots couldn't hit the re-set button on Sunday and I think it left them shell-shocked.

But, the big thing I didn't foresee was Eli Manning and the Giants offense coming through in the clutch and the Patriots choking. All the breaks that went the Patriots way during their run -- especially during the 2001 season and during the course of this season -- they all went the Giants way in the Super Bowl. Some dude named David Tyree made an impossible catch on a ball that's picked off 9 times out of 10 thrown by a guy that's about as mobile as Half Dome after he escaped three linemen simultaneously. On third down. The bounces went their way, the Patriots dropped a couple of sure interceptions, and, really, the Giants just wanted it more.

Ever have one of those days where you're so tired that you're basically trying to think of all the things you absolutely, positively need to do before you're allowed to sleep? Everyone on the Patriots had that look about them halfway through the third quarter.

I just still can't believe that, basically, the Giants out Patrioted the Patriots. I read this on a message board somewhere and I think it sums everything up nicely:

"On the Patriots final drive, when defensive tackle Jay Alford busted through the line absolutely smacked Tom Brady, dropping him for a sack, he had a dazed look about him. It was as though, in the past four months, he had forgotten he was playing football and was rudely awakened."

So, really, there's only one thing that still needs to be covered...

Belichick and a good number of the guys on the Patriots, including Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi, who needed to play defense, left the field with one second left.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a huge deal. No one's really making a huge deal out of it. PTI and Around the Horn probably had three minutes devoted to it, but it's pretty much been swept away. The popular excuse is that no one from the Patriots knew that there was one second left and, by the time someone informed them, none of them cared.

From an objective prospective, how important is it that every guy on the Patriots stays on the field and congratulates every guy on the Giants? These guys are professionals, right? So long as there are enough people left to finish the game, that's all that really matters. For official purposes, there were 46 guys active for the game and 7 inactives. Belichick could've run out the same 11 guys out there and had them play both offense and defense the whole game and there would have been nothing illegal about it. And, he could've had them take the field and said, "Good luck, boys. I'm going to the bar." All the NFL needed, for official purposes, was that 11 guys were on the field on offense and defense for the whole game.

It's not like anyone for New York had their feelings hurt or that Belichick refused to take the team out for banana splits at Dairy Queen because his players didn't line up, slap five with the Giants players, and say, "good game, good game, good game," repeatedly. There was nothing illegal or emotionally scarring about it. And, I'm not even going to go the route of, "They set an absolutely horrendous example for kids growing up and playing sport. I had to explain to little Jimmy why they left the field early and didn't congratulate the other team on the victory." This isn't the first time your kids going to be disappointed by sports. If he is irrevocably damaged by something he saw on TV at the end of the Super Bowl, he's got bigger fish to fry psychologically.

What the Patriots did shows a lack of respect and a complete lack of class.

When a bunch of guys beat the shit out of each other and attempt to kill each other for three hours, they form a kind of bond. They know, somewhere deep in their psyche that this is just a job, but most of their motivation comes from pride and determination. Especially in the post-season, when a game check is far less than what they make during the regular season. So, other than Brady or Manning or Strahan, who are all marketable and would stand to make some money endorsing products with some championship hardware behind him (seriously, is Justin Tuck going to start doing Mastercard commercials? Did the thought of that motivate him in any way? No.), other than those few players, no one was motivated by money. Just pride and determination.

What did the Giants get for their tremendous showing of pride and determination? Well, shit yeah, they got rings, t-shirts, hats, and nice, shiny Lombardi Trophy, but they didn't get the respect and humility of the team they played against.

Is that scarring? Do they care now? Probably not. They're not a bunch of whining assholes like Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks (I heard something on the radio where someone was still bitching about Super Bowl XL -- which we won, btw -- and, shortly thereafter, I read an article that said Holmgren was still pissed about having his General Manager responsibilities taken away in 200-fucking-3. Seriously. Give it up.) At any rate, the Giants could probably give two shits about it right now.

It's not life-altering, but it is a move that is fraught with douche baggery.

Look, I have to say that I'm glad the Patriots finished the season 16-0. There. I said it. In a regular season that had a lot of pitfalls and some pretty shitty storylines -- one of which involved the Browns (get it? Shitty? Browns?) -- New England gave us something to watch. And someone to hate.

Think about it. Can you remember anything better from the regular season, anything that got more coverage and spurred more debate than the weekly quest for perfection? Cleveland's a great story, but you can't talk about it much. "Hey, Bill. Cleveland's kicking ass. Did you see that coming?" No, Ted. No I didn't. End of conversation. "But, say there, Bill. The Packers are a terrific story and Brett Favre is playing like a kid again." Yep. He sure is. He's the Brett Favre of football, alright. "What about the Patriots?" Oh, well, they're a bunch of dicks. I think they're overrated and... what about this Spygate thing? Think that's gonna blow up in their faces during the Super Bowl? What about in the offseason? I think Brady's going to hit 55 touchdowns. He's slowed down the last couple of weeks, but he'll come back around. Did you see what they did to Joe Gibbs and the Redskins...?

That got us through the regular season. Then, all the post-season games rocked (admit it, if your favorite team wasn't involved in the Jacksonville game, you'd have said it was a hell of a game). And the Super Bowl was one of the all-time best. I'd put it right up there with the Broncos-Packers Super Bowl and the Bills-Giants Super Bowl.

But, enough about the good things the Patriots did. One of the reasons that they spurred on so much conversation and debate is that they were so hated throughout the entire season. Every non-Patriot fan wanted them to lose. And, no doubt, there were some serious Concern Rays at work in the Super Bowl.

So, they go through every game of the regular season, thumbing their noses at the Spygate situation, blowing out overmatched opponents and generally acting like douche bags. They were douche bags to such a great extent that it proliferated to their entire fan base, made fans out of people that turned in their Boston Douche Bag Fan card years ago, and made it so that you couldn't talk to someone about the Patriots until you were absolutely positive that they weren't a Pats fan.

Teams starting gearing up for them at the midway point of the season. Every game became their Super Bowl. They wanted to be the team that knocked the juggernaut off its mighty perch. But, the Pats kept winning. They kept being snide, arrogant bastards, and they kept empowering their fan base to do the same. And, if there's one thing that's worse than an insufferable douche bag, it's an insufferable douche bag that can back it up.

For eighteen straight weeks and about two months of playing against opponents that treated the game like the only game of the season that mattered, the New England Patriots backed up their insufferable douche baggery with stellar play. A good deal of luck was involved, but, for the most part, they were just better than everyone else. They were so much better, everyone forgot that the Colts were the defending champs and Indy snuck their way through the season at 13-3 with half a roster.

Here's the thing. They fucked up the ultimate revenge by walking off the field early. If Bruschi and Belichick and Moss and Brady and Harrison and every single one of those cold-hearted, motherless, baby punching bastards had gone up to every single member of the Giants and, whole heartedly (or at least gave the appearance of sincerity) said, "Great job. Congratulations."... most of us would've said, "Huh. I guess they aren't such douche bags after all. They really were just better than everyone and they were playing to win. They came up short this time. They'll be back strong next season."

Instead, they walked off early and everyone had the right to say, "HA! You lost, bitches! That's right, run away! You were douche bags before, but now you're just loser douche bags!" And the biggest, most insufferable douche bag of them all lead the charge. And didn't acknowledge the douche baggery in the post-game press conference.

And, that, my friends, is why the 2007 Patriots will go into the record book as an incredibly talented group of insufferable douche bags. I, for one, am glad that we don't have to deal with these fuckers for the next 40 years like we've been addled with the Dolphins. After all, they weren't douche bags to start with: They just got surly with age and champagne.

Here's the worst part:

I really, really, really, really wanted to hate Randy Moss after this game. In the past, he's quit on his teammates, he's left games early, he's been a locker room cancer and he ran over a meter maid. Prior to the 2007 season, the man was just a colossally acerbic dick. During the 2007 season, everyone started praising him. First came the stories out of the Patriots camp. Randy's doing well, he's a smart guy, he's not quitting on routes. Then stories from the regular season. Look at Randy blocking down the field, here he's acting as a decoy is going all out even though he knows he's not getting the ball, he's so humble, giving the ball to a teammate after scoring a touchdown. Then the post-season. Randy's not getting catches but he doesn't care, he's happy to be winning, he wants to retire as a Patriot, he's still blocking downfield and finishing every route strong. I saw him starting to give up, as all the New England players did at one point or another in the Super Bowl and I thought, "There's the true Randy. You can take the douche out of the bag, but you can't take the douche bag out of Randy Moss' soul." When Belichick rushed off the field with time still remaining on the clock, I actually looked for Moss (HD is awesome), hoping he'd be scurrying away as well. But, there he was, on the sidelines, looking around confused, as if to say, "Hey... uh... we still have time on the clock. Everyone sees that, right? Uh... guys?" And he stayed on the field. And he congratulated the Giants.

Ah, well. I suppose my faith in humanity was restored in that moment. So... that's good, I guess.

One other thing: The officiating was simply amazing in this game. It wasn't perfect, but it was damn-near perfect. Great job by the zebras in this one. We're too quick to criticize them and we usually don't say anything nice when they win.

Great job, boys. Way to make me look like an ass by saying that the officiating could play a factor in the game.

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