Posts Tagged ‘ Sports ’

RAMBLINGS OF A MAD BLOGGER: SUPER BOWL XLVIII

As a general rule, when you begin a football game with a safety it’s probably not going to be a good day. It kind of foreshadows that things just aren’t going to go well that day. It’s like waking up to no hot water when you get in the shower. So when Denver’s center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s head and into the endzone it spelled a long day for the Broncos. But even at that point nobody could have imagined the last football game of the year, with the two best teams in the entire NFL would end in a 43-8 drubbing that looked more like a college team playing against an Pros instead of the two best teams in the world.

Time Square aka Super Bowl Blvd. (Photo via The Verge)

Unless you are a Seahawks fan, it was literally painful to watch. It was the football version of the Globetrotters and the Generals. Towards the end I was hoping the NFL would give fans a complementary game after the Super Bowl ended. For all the hype and talk that surrounded this game (the cold weather, the constant talk about Sherman, Peyton’s legacy etc) the end result fell short in more ways than one. The only thing the game made me sure of, the Seattle Seahawks were the deepest, toughest and most resilient team this entire season. And I need tickets to see Bruno Mars live in concert because dude killed it. And that 9/11 was perpetrated by people in our own government. Everything else is up for discussion, so lets start with…

MANNING’S LEGACY 

Peyton Manning is still one of the greatest even after his worst defeat. Photo cred: (USATSI)

On media day Peyton downplayed this Super Bowl as his “legacy game”. He was already considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on cleats, but this game was supposed to cement him as the greatest at his position. Because winning a Super Bowl one time, or being first (55) and third (49) for most passing touchdowns in a season, or winning league MVP five times just isn’t enough right? Peyton was outmatched in the in every way in his third Super Bowl. Seattle dared him to throw it and when he did they made him pay. A guy who looked superhuman on a regular basis looked nervous, flustered and just plain regular. He hadn’t looked that bad since the Patriots used to torment him when he was on the Colts. But to say that he isn’t one of the best QB’s ever because he didn’t win this game, or to say “he only wins in the regular season” is ridiculous.

When Peyton went down with his neck injury he became a sympathetic figure. When he got cut by the Colts people wanted to see him come back and prove the doubters wrong. The critics backed off because there was a possibility that he would never play again and in that moment people started to realize that Peyton was really good even with just one ring. So why should him coming back and losing change any of that? Is winning really the only measure of greatness? Does overall performance not count at all? Manning’ Boss, John Elway lost three Super Bowls, Tom Brady lost two Super Bowls, Roger Staubach lost three times, Dan Marino lost the only one he ever played in and Jim Kelley lost all four that he played in. All of those men are in the Hall of Fame with the exception of Brady – I think it’s a safe bet he’ll get in. The only Quarterbacks, currently in the Hall of Fame, to play in multiple Super Bowls and go undefeated in them are Terry Bradshaw (4), Joe Montana (5) and Troy Aikman (3).

Peyton Manning changed the game at his position. The way he calls audibles at the line and completely shifts plays on the go is unprecedented. One of the reasons that the NFL is now a passing heavy league is due to the success that Peyton Manning’s teams (Indianapolis and Denver) have had for his career. In his 15 years as a starter his team has made the playoffs 13 times. Peyton may not have won the “Big One” all the time, but Peyton Manning is a winner. That, to me, will always be his legacy.

WORST BEHAVIOR 

Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Technically speaking no. Major let down? Yes. Lopsided from start to finish? Absolutely. But not the worst. I’ve seen every Super Bowl thanks to NFL films so I know. This game featured some very big plays, they just all happened to be in favor of Seattle. Percy Harvin’s kickoff return was dazzling to watch. I had almost forgotten how fast he was. Malcolm Smith taking it 69 yards to the house off of Peyton Manning was awesome. Jermaine Kearse broke four tackles on his way into the endzone and released his inner Beast Mode. Russell Wilson barely missed on his throws last night and threw for 72 percent. The 35-point margin of victory wasn’t even the most lopsided – the most is 45, but we’ll get to that later. This game was a bad one, but it won’t stand out as the worst when if people watch again it years from now. Super Bowl XX ended with the Bears winning 46-10 over the Patriots and New England looked way more helpless. Super Bowl V, also known as the Blunder Bowl has more clips that belong on NFL Follies than Sportscenter’s Top 10. Super Bowl I? Snooze-ville. The NFC championship game was more exciting. But the worst? For me it’s Super Bowl III. It might be the most important game in the NFL’s history, but the Jets and the Colts were not fun to watch that day.

THE BIGGEST LOSERS 

The irony here is just too real.

Wes Welker – The GIF above sums up Welker’s career to this point perfectly. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. He’s been on three Super Bowl rosters and still has never tasted that sweet electrolyte filled cup of victory. Without question Welker has been one of the NFL’s best slot receivers, but he keeps getting the short end of the stick in the big game.

John Fox – Here’s a guy who had a heart attack mid-season heart attack, but managed to come back and coach his team all the way to the biggest game of his life. That alone is amazing, but imagine the story if he finishes with a win? Instead he’s now 0-2 in the Super Bowl. Also I’m not sure what you say to your team after a 35 point loss in the big one. There just aren’t enough clichés in the book.

Champ Bailey – All the Madden heads remember back in the day when you played with the Broncos and every Champ Bailey interception was an automatic pick-six? Not so long ago Bailey was Denver’s most popular player, but he’s become a forgotten man now that he’s 35 years old. It would have been nice to see Champ get a ring with the career he’s had.

The Orange Jersey – Denver has lost every Super Bowl they played in with the orange jersey. In fact they’ve never scored more than 10 points wearing orange.

Super Bowl XII (12): Cowboys 27, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXII (22): Redskins 42, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXIV (24): 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Numbers don’t lie son. Burn the orange jersey’s. Nothing good can come from them.

Commercials – Almost all of them were terrible. The one with Bruce Willis looked sort of promising, but then it got awkward with Fred Armisen wrapped around him. The only two that didn’t suck were the one with the puppy and the horse (tear jerker) and the Bull that was about to go to work. Also there was a Cure Auto Insurance ad that ripped off Sherman’s rant and and called out the Geico Gecko out that was pretty hilarious, but I don’t think that was shown nationally. The rest of you try harder next year.

BOUT THAT ACTION BOSS

Marshawn Lynch aka Beast mode took a lot of flack for not talking all year. Then he took a lot of flack for not wanting to be a part of Media Day. People really blew it out of proportion (like this guy) and it became a story about nothing. What was lost in all the hoopla was that Marshawn’s limited quotes were amazing.

When asked about why he didn’t want to talk to the media: “I’m just bout that action boss.”

On how he was mentally preparing for the Super Bowl: “I’m S.R. bruh (long pause) stay ready. So there ain’t no getting ready”

On assistant coach Tom Cable: “Well, being from Oakland, all I knew about him was that he punched people. That’s my type of person.”

And that was just the lead up. After Mr. Skittles himself won the biggest game of his life his post-game transcript ended up on the web.

Marshawn's quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

Marshawn’s quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

If you don’t love this guy, you’re the problem.

GOING TO DISNEY WORLD

Malcolm Smith is now in the same category as Chuck Howley and Ray Lewis as the only players to win Super Bowl MVP as a linebacker. He also got a free pick-up truck – did they run out of Cadillacs? As anyone with the last name Smith knows it’s easy to get overlooked when you have the most common name in America. Smith has been overshadowed for a while. His brother, Steve Smith, also plays football and won a ring with the Giants in 2008, he was a 7th round pick coming out of college and two weeks ago he made the game winning interception only to see his teammate get all the attention for his post game rant. But on this night in the stadium next to the greatest city in the world, Malcolm Smith stole the spotlight. 10 tackles, an 69-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. That return also made the game 21-0 and fully swung the momentum in Seattle’s favor. Cheers to you Malcolm Smith, you’re going to Disney World in a Chevy Silverado, ‘Merica.

All in all the Super Bowl was what it always is, a huge media circus that happens to feature a football game. Now go home everyone. I would like to walk down the streets of mid-town Manhattan.

What do y’all think…Is Peyton overrated? Did any of the commercials catch your attention? Would anyone pick a different MVP? Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Feel free to comment away.

THE UNFATHOMABLE JR SMITH

JR Smith is a superstar player. JR Smith should be a superstar player. JR Smith could be superstar. JR Smith has the ability to be a superstar player. JR Smith has the physical talent to be a superstar player. I think that’s enough modification. Should and could are words typically reserved for players who haven’t figured out the league yet. More times than not that’s players who have been in a professionally athlete for less than three or four years. JR Smith has been in the NBA since he was 18 years old. That’s nearly 10 years of experience on how the league works. I’ve never played 1 minute in the NBA, but I know that if my coach and the league warned me not to untie someone’s shoe during a game I wouldn’t do it the very next night. Therein lies the biggest problem with JR Smith. For all of his talent and ability, for all of his physical exploits and shooting prowess and “potential” he proves time and again that he can’t be that superstar player that he should, could or has the ability to be.

This of course goes far beyond untying shoelaces. That act itself, under other circumstances, probably wouldn’t warrant much negative attention especially if a player was making significant contributions between the lines.  But JR Smith has always had character issues while in the league. His ability to get hot and play like an all-star for stretches of games kept him in teams’ rotations for a lot of years, specifically in Denver and definitely in New York. But JR’s play is way down this season compared to what he did just a year ago. Last year JR Smith had his best season on both ends of the floor. He averaged 18 points per game,  had a player efficiency rating of 17.6 and turned the ball over at the lowest rate of his career. Defensively he was just as stellar averaging career a career high in rebounds (4.5) and tied his second career high steals (1.3). All of this was done with Smith coming off of the bench for the Knicks and it helped them win over 50 games.

But ever since he elbowed Jason Terry in the first round of the playoffs he hasn’t even been close to the player who won the Sixth-Man of the Year award in 2012. He finished the playoffs shooting 33 percent and 27 percent from 3-point range. Just to illustrate how far he has fallen you can look at his advanced stats. Offensive Win Shares measure how many wins  a player has contributed to his team with his offense. Last year his number was 4 (the highest in his career) this year…it -0.4. He’s literally cost the teams wins with how bad he is playing this season. Oh and his OWS in the playoffs last season…-0.5!

JR Smith was ejected and suspended an additional game for elbowing Jason Terry during the playoffs. (GIF via SB Nation)

So if you couple JR’s terrible play since April with his many mental mistakes it becomes clear that he isn’t proving to be the “changed man” that people were painting him as last year. There is a third piece to this puzzle though. When a player doesn’t perform well for a significant, that player typically loses playing minutes. If a player shows that he isn’t focused on basketball he can lose playing games. So why hasn’t JR seen any changes in his playing time? Head coach Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson has been a very public supporter of JR Smith and sometimes to a fault. Him believing in JR Smith was a big reason for JR elevating his play last year, but Woodson also claimed when he became a coach that he would hold all of his players accountable. In a game against the Houston Rockets JR Smith took an ill-advised 3-pointer with 19 seconds left and the game tied. JR said he thought the Knicks were down by two (which makes no difference), but to make it worse Woodson blamed Beno Udrih for passing Smith the ball. Woodson has become JR’s enabler. You can’t possibly expect a player to become better if you constantly make excuses for every foolish thing he does.

But at the end of the day it comes back to JR Smith. He’s a grown man and shouldn’t need to be reminded of what that entails as much as he does. I’ve been begging for the Knicks to trade him practically all season. With Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the team you could easily make up what you would miss from a fully functioning JR Smith. The Bockers are reportedly looking for trade partners, which has brought up the question: Who would want him? It’s a valid question because after 10 years all he’s shown fans is that he probably won’t be all the things that should, could and has the ability to be.