The Sandy Hook Elementary School Chorus singing “America the Beautiful” with Jennifer Hudson stole the Super Bowl for me. I can’t fathom dealing with a trauma of that magnitude at my current age, let alone as an elementary school child, and THEN performing in our culture’s biggest television event of the year. Moments like that make me realize there is hope for the human race because of our epic resiliency, despite my typically snide and cynical nature.
The Ravens won the Super Bowl and since Ray Lewis didn’t sprout an antler or ascend directly into heaven (although even Jesus was subjected to a 3 day waiting period before his ascension through the pearly gates, so maybe after today’s parade) the most fascinating aspect of the game was the blackout. Was there holding on the last San Fran play from scrimmage? Its debatable. Was the play calling by San Fran questionable? Certainly. I thought they could exploit the cover skills of the linebackers and safeties not named Ed Reed and they were very successful when they tried. The ability to exploit those same weaknesses in the red zone is far tougher, but between the running of Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick and LaMichael James and their offensive lines ability to block, they should have been able to cobble together the 7 yards they needed over their 4 downs in their last possession.
The Montana stain Tide commercial won the commercial battle for me. Not only was it filmed in the time between the championship games and the Super Bowl, but it was surprising, funny, satirical and engaging. For the majority of the commercial I had no clue what was being sold, but once it was revealed it was perfect and memorable and isn’t that the point?
Joe Flacco is your Super Bowl MVP. At least it wasn’t Ray Lewis. Flacco certainly earned it. He was the best QB in the playoffs. He made big throws when he needed to, didn’t throw any interceptions and didn’t fumble, take bad sacks or get penalized. The definition of what it takes to be a Super Bowl winning QB and ultimately the MVP of the Super Bowl.
Without any free agency action or seeing what happens in the draft the 49ers would seem to be the team in the best shape to make consistently deep playoff runs. In an NFL where the Patriots run as the most consistent team for over a decade would appear to be nearing its end, the 49ers seemed poised to take over. They have a young energetic coach, a young roster, a star QB in the making, and their offensive and defensive lines are 2 of their biggest strengths. The game is won and lost in the trenches and San Fran has the ability to dominate in the trenches.
Keith Law, the baseball writer for ESPN and the guy I trust most with reporting on MLB prospects, released his organizational rankings and the hometown Boston Red Sox came in 17th. I like a lot of the players in the Sox pipeline, Xander Bogarts and Jackie Bradley in particular, but 17th is in the bottom half for a reason.The bigger problem is that they do not have a lot of talent close to contributing to the big league club, with a roster that lacks dominant players both in the batters box and on the mound, the Sox desperately need an infusion of talent.
Maybe the biggest problem the Red Sox face in rebuilding their roster and getting back to relevance in the AL East, is that on Law’s list the Rays and Yankees are both in the top 10, the Orioles are 13th and the Blue Jays were top 5 before they used a lot of their assets to acquire perennial all star Jose Reyes, and solid pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. The Blue Jays want to win now. They are close. They have plenty of talent on their roster, and they have the dynamics and depth in their pitching staff to make a long run into October. A couple of years ago if you were to compare the battle for the AL East title to the nuclear arms race the Yankees would have been the USSR, the Red Sox the USA, and the other teams countries that knew what nuclear weapons were but had no idea what to do about it. After this off season the Red Sox are like a 3rd world nation worried about just feeding their citizens let alone vying for world dominance.
Kevin Garnett has a condition on waiving his no trade clause and he has earned that right. First of all he earned the no trade clause, the Celtics granted it to him, so he should have conditions. Good for him. That being said, his trade being based on Paul Pierce being traded is a bit insane. Pierce is a career long Celtic. While I appreciate everything KG has done, he was imported 5 years ago. He spent the majority of his career in Minnesota, and that affects how he is viewed as a Celtic. While KG has been through the NBA ringer it wasn’t all done here in Boston. Pierce has been the cornerstone of this franchise since the day he was drafted and that earns him a different level of respect. KG deserves an enormous amount of respect for how he has played and represented the Boston Celtics, but he simply can’t be put on the same level as Pierce.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its most recent class and it is a who’s who of my introduction to the NFL. Bill Parcells was the coach of the first Patriots team I followed. Warren Sapp was the first defensive tackle I saw who demonstrated what dominant inside defensive tackle play should look like. Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen were both offensive tackles that dominated with their superior size and athletic abilities. Cris Carter was a flashy receiver who caught touchdown pass after touchdown pass. Makes me feel old.
In terms of the NFL awards I think for the most part they got them right. Adrian Peterson was the MVP because where would Minnesota be without him? Bruce Arians as coach of the year is a great nod to a guy who stepped into Chuck Pagano’s role when he had to step aside to treat his leukemia. Defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, was the easy choice even if his stats trended downward towards the end of the year. Peyton Manning came back with a bionic neck and was great, and very worthy of the comeback player of the year. Luke Kuechly was predicted to be the defensive rookie of the year way back in April during the draft and he lived up to the hype. My biggest qualm was with the offensive rookie of the year. Robert Griffin won, and while there is no way to argue that his season was great, I can’t be sure he should have won over Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, for the simple reason that Griffin did not play in a game his team needed to win to make the playoffs and they still won. Maybe I am I treating the rookie of the year too much like the MVP, but that is a debate for another time.