NFL’s big game is testament of time
The Super Bowl.
The biggest annual one-day sports event in the world.
The game so important we measure its longevity in Roman numerals.
It’s an American tradition. No matter who is playing, the nation tunes in, if nothing else than to watch the commercials, which hold an unofficial competition against one another.
We spend two weeks hyping this game, but that’s really not necessary. The fact it is the Super Bowl is big enough.
That’s especially true this year. While it is the players who make up the participating teams that should be the focus, they have taken a back seat to perhaps the best angle in the history of the Super Bowl -the Harbaugh brothers.
Sports fans always are talking about the odds. What are the odds any football player who eventually goes into coaching will become the head coach of a National Football League franchise? What are the odds of two members of the same family accomplishing that feat? What are the odds both will coach their team to the Super Bowl, and do it in the same year?
So while the action on the field should be the primary focus, there’s no doubt we are going to see countless shots of the Harbaughs and their parents.
What about the matchup? It’s a good one. It pits the San Francisco 49ers, the best team in football, against the Baltimore Ravens, the hottest team in football.
The 49ers have been a model of consistency. They began the season as one of the favorites to win the only football game in February and still are the favorite today. This is a team that seems to have it all. A coach who isn’t afraid to make radical changes, like benching veteran quarterback Alex Smith for an untested Colin Kaepernick, who has more tattoos than career victories but who no doubt has silenced any of his or Jim Harbaugh’s critics.
A running back in Frank Gore who can run over or around would-be tacklers, and a guy who can get the tough yard when it is needed. A talented receiving corps including West Virginia native Randy Moss, who attempted to steal Muhammad Ali’s line this week, proclaiming himself the greatest receiver of all-time (that would be Jerry Rice). A defense that plays hard for 60 minutes. The only thing not to like is an inconsistent kicking game that has become totally unreliable. If the 49ers need a field goal to win the game, we may have another Scott Norwood moment.
San Francisco is consistently good. In the playoffs, Baltimore has been spectacularly good. It beat Peyton Manning in Denver. It knocked off Tom Brady in New England. So it’s certainly not going to fear playing Kaepernick in the Superdome (most underwhelming sports venue I’ve ever visited.)
Baltimore is hot, hot, hot. It’s no wonder the betting line on the game has dropped from the opening line of San Francisco by 5 down to 3.5. One web site that follows such things says about 65 percent of those placing legal wagers in Nevada are backing the Ravens.
In doing so, they are putting their faith in quarterback Joe Flacco, perhaps the most under-appreciated signal caller in the league. He’s won six playoff road games, yet you don’t hear his name when the conversation comes to best QB in the league. But we’ve seen less than household names win Super Bowls before, including West Virginia’s Jeff Hostetler.
The Ravens have a pair of Rays – Rice running the ball and Lewis hitting any 49er who gets in his way. Lewis is the Randy Moss of the Ravens, the guy who is playing in his last game and wants to go out a winner.
We always wonder if the Super Bowl will turn into a Super Bore. After all, it’s happened many times.
I can’t see that scenario today. This has all the makings of a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire matchup.
Who will win? The best team or the hottest team? We’ll know about 10 p.m.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org