Last Monday, when I woke up and was going through my morning routine, I saw a tweet about the New England Patriots possibly using deflated footballs during the game against the Indianapolis Colts the prior day.
My heart sank. I knew immediately that there would be a completely unnecessary overreaction to this. I knew that this would overshadow what will be a fantastic Super Bowl by two #1 teams. I was right. When was the last time the top coach and QB in the league wasn’t asked a single question about the big game at their press conferences?
I completely understand any football fan getting upset about this controversy. The Patriots have been on a ~14 year tear through the league, never having a losing season and only missing the playoffs twice in that time. Winning three Super Bowls, barely losing two others in the last minutes of the game, and now returning for the sixth time a week from tomorrow. It is completely defies explanation. How can the Patriots win so much, and often by a lot? They must have had help? They must be cheating!
Sitting on the other side of this when the Cowboys ruled football in the early/mid 1990s, the Yankees in the late 1990s/early 2000s…I wanted nothing more for those teams to fail, seizing on every controversy, using every argument I could make. And they eventually did, even the Yankees, sometimes in spectacular fashion (2004 ALCS Games 4-7), other times fading away (Cowboys core aging away without comparable replacements).
But an objective fan must look here. Deflating a football by 1-2 PSI is something that football players can’t even agree among themselves whether it matters or if they can even tell the difference. There are players openly admitting to doing similar things to footballs, even in the Super Bowl. While an under inflated football may be easier to catch, it is likely to be under thrown. Seems like a real mixed bag. This is far, far different than video taping other team’s walkthroughs, which admiringly was a stupid risk to take and could cause a real unfair advantage. This is fraying the edges of what is/isn’t fair. It’s a grey area.
Sports are supposed to have grey areas. Look at all of the unwritten rules in baseball, hockey, and basketball. The place for this to be solved is on the football field and with the league making clarifications to its rule book. For instance, returning footballs to both teams at game time seems like an invitation to try something…they should be under control of the league during the game and tested frequently.
I hope the league concludes this investigation quickly and allows the most important people, the fans, to enjoy the lead up to the Super Bowl. Because it will be a fantastic game, perhaps one for the ages.
But knowing the NFL, with signs that the investigation is already being bungled give it took 5 days for a statement to be released, I’m not holding out hope. It is time for Patriots fans to rally around each other and our team.
I tip my hat to the Giants. They pulled off one hell of a performance. This is why sports can either be great or frustrating, because nothing is set in stone and every second of the game has to pass before a winner is declared. As Patriot fans learned in 2001 against the Rams, anything is possible. Unfortunately “anything” went against us today. It happens and the sports gods sometimes remind us never to get greedy. That happened tonight.
So when do pitchers and catchers report in Fort Myers?
For the first time in a few weeks I have felt very upbeat. The Patriots are in the Super Bowl for the 4th time in 7 years.
Has it already been 7 years since the famous win against the “Greatest Show on Turf”? Amazing how much has changed since then. 3 Super Bowl wins for the Patriots, 2 World Series wins for the Red Sox, and the Celtics could even pull off an NBA championship this season. Wow.
Anyways, I don’t do Super Bowl predictions when the Patriots are involved (outside that they will win). I think this will be a close game though, as the best Super Bowls are hard fought for contests, not blowouts, and the Giants held their own against the Pats on Week 17 and could have won that game.
With the Patriots winning last night, we have a perfect regular season. Never thought I would see one of those. The game was a very good game and I have to give the Giants props, they fought very hard before folding at the end. Given that both teams could have easily sat their starters at some point, it was refreshing to see a “meaningless” game so well fought.
However, it doesn’t mean anything without winning the Super Bowl. A loss at this point will be disappointing to say the least.
Time for 3 Games to Glory IV!
After last night, I can’t keep the thought out of my head.
How long is this going to last?
Just 7 years ago, the Boston sports scene was completely different. The Red Sox had a disastrous 2001 season, which resulted in season ending injuries to Pedro and Nomar, Jimy Williams being fired and somehow replaced by a manager who did an even more horrible job, a GM who simply couldn’t handle people or build a complete team, and an ownership who just didn’t care. The Patriots were entering just year 2 of the Belichick era, had just lost Drew Bledsoe to injury, and were starting a 6th round pick Tom Brady that no one had even heard of. Rick Pitino resigned as head coach after completely destroying the Celtics with his ego. The Bruins won their first regular season title, but lost in the 1st round to the Canadians in 6 games.
7 years later?
The Patriots pulled off one of the best ever underdog performances in the 2002 Super Bowl, then went on to win championships in 2004 and 2005. They made the playoffs in 2006, nearly pulled off another Super Bowl appearance in 2007, and are now absolutely destroying their competition as they head to the 2008 Super Bowl. They have the best coaching staff, best offense, best defense, and best ownership. Oh yeah, the fans are among the best and most loyal in football as well.
The Red Sox were bought by new owners who knew exactly what needed to be done to make the team capable of catching the Yankees. They completely revamped the team’s finances, improve Fenway Park every season to squeeze every last cent out of a 95-year-old ballpark, hired the best GM in baseball, hire one of the best coaches in baseball, and make some of the best moves in the history of the game (Ortiz is exhibit A on this). Meanwhile the team was one pitching change away from the world series in 2003, won the World Series in 2004, was retooled in 2005 and 2006, and won the World Series in 2007 with a young core of players and a group of excellent veterans that look like the perfect compliment to each other.
The Celtics had some limited success in the first few seasons of the 21st century, but quickly fell apart amid countless rebuilding plans. Yet in the end, all of the pain and suffering could be worth it. The Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen trades brings us a new Big 3 and the closest chance this team will have at winning a championship in the next decade. Even if they don’t win, it should be entertaining to watch, which is something you couldn’t say about the team since the early 90s.
Finally there is the Bruins…well, no town is perfect. Moving along…
Last night was truly special though for Red Sox fans. For the first 22-years of my life, I never had hope of a championship for the Red Sox. Now within 4 years, I have witnessed 2 championships. You can’t get any better then that.
I am never more proud to be a sports fan then I am today.
A few sports thoughts as I watch the Pats/Bengals on Monday Night Football and the Rockies/Padres tiebreaker game.
- The Colorado Rockies are one of those feel good stories that you love about sports. They have won 13 of their past 14 games in order to force a 1-game winner takes all tiebreaker game with the San Diego Padres. As I watch in the 8th inning, the Rockies have a runner on 2nd in a 6-6 game.
- The Bengals defense is awful. Yes they did get an interception, but they are lucky to be down just 10 points right now.
- Randy Moss is a freak…one of those freaks you absolutely love to have on your team.
Never thought I would see this happen. The Patriots have traded for WR Randy Moss.
I wonder what Bill Belichick will do with him…Moss isn’t exactly known for his work ethic. If any team can turn around Moss, it is the Patriots. I am really excited to see him and Tom Brady play catch, as this is by far the strongest group of receivers the Pats ever had. They will have great depth and if someone dares to double-team Moss, a lot of single coverage for the other Pats receivers.
If it doesn’t work out, it is just a 4th round pick that the Patriots gave up…a 4th round pick in a draft that they apparently don’t like.
Maybe this is the year Brady gets to add a regular season MVP and ring #5 to his resume.
Some random stuff that I have been meaning to write about:
- What is up with the weather? Tonight it is going hit -2 degrees according to weather.com and my morning commute looks like it will be in the 4 degree range. It is so cold that my stereo system in my car takes a few minutes to heat up before it will talk with my iPod (note to self: gotta get that fixed). By 3:00pm on Saturday (roughly 42 hours from now), it will be 47 degrees out and all next week we will be flirting with 50 degrees. Welcome to spring in New Hampshire.
- It has been about 9 weeks since I started using Invisalign braces. I just started aligner set #5 (of 12 for my bottom teeth, of 24 for my top teeth), so I am almost halfway done the bottom teeth and almost a quarter done the top teeth. I switch to a new set of aligners 2 weeks on Wednesday. Usually by Friday (48 hours or so), my mouth is no longer sore from the new set and I can easily take them off. So really, it is just 2 days of being sore and having a relatively difficult time taking them off. I think that with the last set is the first time I think I started to notice something, but it is tough to tell since each set does such a small amount of change on its own. I think I will have to look at the before/after photos to really appreciate the amount of change.
- I have a good feeling about the Red Sox this year. This is one of the deepest starting rotations around (even deeper then 2004’s) if everyone stays healthy. The offense looks pretty well rounded. Only concern is the bullpen, but those are always a crapshoot and it is the one thing Theo can’t seem to get together (outside of 2004).
- Speaking about good feelings, how about the Patriots? They are schooling everyone in free agency. So much for being “cheap” like some members of the media (*cough* Ron Borges *cough*) think they are.
- On the other hand, those Celtics are doing a great job working for that #1 (or #2) pick!
- On the geek front, the DST changes are a bane to my existence. This is one of those (many) times where the government did more harm then good…why break something that was working fine? I think at work we got everything patched up on the Windows side, but I am worried about Lotus Notes…calendar systems are really weird to begin with when it comes to time zones. Nothing can be simple and easy I guess.
- I have been reading Barack Obama’s two books and I don’t think I ever been more impressed with a politician. He is exactly the type of leader that should be President.
- Tomorrow marks the return of me to the gym at work. Actually, technically I returned yesterday when I got fitness tested (being entered in a drawing for a new iPod had nothing to do with that, I swear). So anyways, tomorrow I going to restart working out and be very sore this weekend.
I couldn’t care less who wins Super Bowl XVI tomorrow. I am just not interested in the Colts winning or the Bears winning.
No, I am not bitter because the Patriots aren’t in the big game. After all, we had three Super Bowl wins in six seasons…who could be disappointed with a record like that (ok, maybe WEEI or the Knights of the Keyboard, but who cares about them)? I am forever grateful to experience a dynasty like that. Heck, you could argue the dynasty is continuing still thanks to nearly making the Super Bowl again.
I just don’t care for either team playing tomorrow.
I will never cheer for the Colts (especially Peyton Manning), especially since I am sure the Patriots and Colts will face each other many more times in the near future. You don’t cheer for your mortal enemy. Although I do have to say, I am intrigued to see if Peyton will resurrect his choking daemons…
Why should I cheer for the Bears too? After all, they
massacred beat the Pats 20 or so years ago in the Super Bowl. While they have a very good defense, I have never been sold on Rex Grossman. You just have to look back at earlier this season, when the Pats picked off Grossman 3 times in a 17-13 victory over the Bears. How this guy is a quarterback for a Super Bowl team is beyond me.
So which team do I pick?
I predict a very close game…after all, any blow out will just bore me and I am always up for a good football game.
The Bears will win…if they pick off Peyton several times and score points directly from those picks. Grossman will not win the game for the Bears and the Colts defense certainly won’t win the game themselves. The battle is simple: Peyton vs. Da Bears defense. If Peyton gets into a rhythm and can wear out the Bears defense, the Bears are done…as no one can rely on Grossman gunslinging to a Super Bowl victory.
However…I have been wrong many times before. I am human after all…