Super Bowl LIII Preview -or- The Bastards Win
The narrative of Bill Belichick is that he's one of the greatest football coaches of all time. I'm not here to disagree with that hypothesis, I'm here to ask you, the astute reader, to answer me one simple question: Do you think Bill Belichick is a good guy, or do you think he's a bastard?
Trick question, because the answer is: It doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, Bill Belichick is just a coach. You hate him because he beat your team, or you love him because he coached your team. Or you hate him because he's a cheater, or you love him because he's a winner. Either way, all Belichick's accomplishments or dastardly deeds were all confined to the football universe. He made it to the pinnacle of his profession playing a game.
A violent game.....
Let's not start in the beginning, but in 1972. In 1972 popular Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom swapped franchises with L.A. Rams owner Bob Irsay and headed out west. Why did Rosenbloom want to move out to the west coast so badly? Partially to satisfy his 4 times divorced, lounge singer wife Georgia Frontiere. Once in L.A., Rosenbloom built one of the strongest NFL teams of the 70's. Unfortunately, Rosenbloom died before the Rams' appearance in Super Bowl XIV. In his will, Rosenbloom left the Rams to his second wife, 20+ years his junior, and she quickly fulfilled "his wishes" to move the team to Anaheim.
There the Rams remained for another decade or so. Frontiere drove that franchise straight into the ground, then headed out to St. Louis. The city of St. Louis was desperate for football after losing their NFL team to Arizona and embraced the Rams as their own. In 2007 Frontiere passed away leaving the Rams to her kids. Those kids saw $$$ and flipped the team to Stan Kroenke. Who, in an ironic move, started laying the groundwork to move back to Los Angeles.
So St. Louis sued to keep their team and offered hundreds of millions of dollars to build Kroenke a stadium, but Kroenke was hell-bent on creating a Football Mecca in Los Angeles with his wife Ann Kroenke. (Ann Walton Kroenke, daughter of WalMart's Sam Walton.)
On the following graphic is the cost of the new L.A. stadium that Kroenke is footing the bill for. That's right, if that's correct, that's $4 billion from the Kroenkes and 10% from the NFL. Granted the Kroenkes got a boatload of tax breaks and the Chargers are going to have to pay rent, but from this angle it looks like the Kroenkes are ponying up to have the best stadium in the league.
Why don't you go ahead and ask the football fans of St. Louis: Do you think Stan Kroenke is a good guy, or do you think he's a bastard? When all is said and done, Kroenke is investing in a game.
A violent game....
I heard this Super Bowl described as a game between a team that everyone's sick of against a team that no one cares about. There's an absurd controversy with the halftime show (I, personally, think Maroon 5 sucks, but they're the perfect band for the Super Bowl) and one of the most heavily promoted Super Bowl commercials stars wholesome American icons Alex Rodriguez and Charlie Sheen. When you turn the game into an event, these are the storylines that the casual viewers are talking about.
While the NFL is sitting on top of their piles and piles of cash, the integrity of the game was eroded further by the pass interference non-call in the NFC Championship Game. That may be the storyline for hardcore football fans or diehard Saints fans, but the NFL wants nothing to do with that narrative....
I think I'll agree with the NFL.... <Gasp>....insomuch as it wasn't the NFL's fault for the debacle. But this is where we disagree. You know who's fault it was that the Saints lost that NFC Championship game? The fans of New Orleans.
"And it's getting ugly here in Cleveland..."
As soon as Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman committed blatant pass interference, the fans of New Orleans should have ripped the seats out of the ground and littered the Superdome with any debris they could get their hands on.
Are you saying that I am advocating rioting?
Back in 2001, the Cleveland Browns were still in the playoff race in Week 13. The Browns were playing the Jacksonville Jaguars and were driving down the field when they faced a critical fourth down play at the end of the fourth quarter. Behind by 5, Tim Couch converted a short pass to wide receiver Quincy Morgan for a first down deep in Jacksonville territory. Either as a way to stop the clock, or as a way to prevent the replay official from checking out the play, Tim Couch quickly ran to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball.
Inexplicably, the NFL officials said there was a glitch in their communications systems and were going to review the Quincy Morgan catch. With the fans chanting "Bullsh!t," the officials consulted replay, then effectively ended the game by declaring the catch an incomplete pass. The fans went crazy....
As bottles rained down on the field, the officials called the game and scurried off the field like rats.
Without accepting culpability, the NFL went with this defense: "You know what was wrong with Bottlegate? Those horrible Cleveland fans."
Editor's Note: We were not there. Would we have thrown bottles had we been there? Hell yeah.
But if you review Bottlegate from a football perspective, you'll see that the officiating was criminally wrong.
First of all, once Tim Couch spiked the ball, it didn't matter what happened the play before. It doesn't matter if there was a communications glitch. The NFL came off like Tanya Harding "but my laces are untied."
Then, and more importantly, if you do go back and watch the catch, again and again, 20 times. The worst case argument is that Quincy Morgan caught the ball, one and then two feet down, made a football move, and then went to the ground. The play was called a completion in real time. You could argue that replay showed that the play was a completion, Morgan briefly fumbled, and then came up with his own recovery, but no angle shows incomplete.
A half an hour after the first bottle came down, Paul Tagliabue made the Brown and Jaguars return to the field so the Jaguars could kneel down and run out the clock. Why did Tagliabue make the Browns and Jaguars finish out the game? To prevent a replay of the end of the game. Once the game was officially over, the Browns couldn't go back in time and protest.
What was McAulay's penalty for the debacle? Ha, you're funny. McAulay was rewarded for controlling a bad situation and even today publications commend him for making the right football decision, when he clearly DID NOT. McAulay went on to work 3 Super Bowls and you can watch him on NBC's Sunday Night Football as a rules expert.
Why am I still mad? Because if the NFL said McAulay made a mistake and was penalized 2 games, that's the way life goes. People make mistakes. But that's not what happened, the NFL still goes with the belligerent Cleveland Fans theory.
The New Orleans fans should have stormed the field or something, but they didn't. They were model fans. No rioting. No swear chants. Just looks of disbelief. When national publications rose to the defense of the Saints, Roger Goodell went with the "refs are humans" defense. No ref was publicly reprimanded, suspended, or terminated. Goodell claims he never even considered the Rams/Saints game as tainted.
When you think of Roger Goodell, do you think of a good guy, or a bastard?
Football is a game. I've said it over and over in this article alone. Bunch of bastards exploiting a game for personal gain. Yeah, I know, welcome to America.
What do I think about Super Bowl LIII? I'm going to turn off my brain and try to enjoy some football. Pretend like it's 1979 and a 10 year old boy couldn't wait for the biggest football game of the year.
And, of course, politics has to ruin everything. I don't want to dwell on this, but just a reminder, arguably the best player in the NFL is a Trump fan. When LeBron James moves the left wing narrative, CNN is all over praising LeBron. When Tom Brady says almost nothing about Trump, you get this....
Back in 1980, a few months before CNN existed, the Super Bowl XIV matchup between the L.A. Rams and the Pittsburg Steelers was anxiously anticipated by yours truly. I knew every angle and couldn't wait for Vince Ferregamo to stick it to the hated Pittsburg Steelers. I knew Bradshaw was great, but the Steel Curtain days of the 70's were coming to an end. The Browns lost to the Steelers twice in 1979, 51-35 and 33-30. They were beatable.
Yeah, that wasn't the first time I was ever wrong. But I remember football storylines. I remember the Rams' Jack Youngblood playing the Super Bowl with a broken leg. I remember Bradshaw to Stallworth. I remember Franco Harris running into the backs of the Steelers' offensive line. A lot.
I don't remember who Terry Bradshaw was going to vote for. I don't remember who Vince Ferregamo wanted to win the Carter/Reagan race. I don't remember any political stories about any of the participants of that Super Bowl. And I don't remember any stories from the media turning Super Bowl XIV into a partisan debate.