(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
This is it, the match-up our forefathers have been clamoring for, New England vs. Philadelphia in a revolutionary Super Bowl that would make Ben Franklin put down his kite and put on the face paint.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the Super Bowl that the rest of us wanted to see. I think it’s safe to say that most people wanted the Steelers and the Falcons, or at least one of them to play on the first Sunday of February.
(By the way, what’s up with the Super Bowl being played in February?! It’s supposed to be played on the last Sunday of January! What’s next, Christmas in November? Summer in January? I need answers!)
I don’t mind that the Eagles made it. I would have preferred the Falcons and Mike Vick, but Philly is an exciting team that deserves to be there after three straight years of choking on it. Besides, I like the Campbell’s Soup ads with Donovan’s mom.
I’m not sure if that’s his real mother, or if those are his real teammates, but when Mrs. McNabb is reading the story of John Elway’s drive, it’s high comedy. Those commercials are almost as entertaining as the ones where Peyton Manning is a fan of insurance adjusters, butchers, gas station attendants and accountants.
The Patriots on the other hand, I despise. They are an excellent football team and have to be considered a dynasty with their third Super Bowl berth in four years. It’s just that watching them makes me want to burn my eyes out with some hot clam chowder.
They are very effective, efficient, and boring. Tom Brady does just enough to win without looking like an All-Pro and Corey Dillon has bolstered the weakest part of the offense.
I don’t have anything personal against the Pats; I probably would have disliked the ‘72 Dolphins had I been old enough to watch them. Although they have players that could start on any other team, they lack star power.
McNabb is more charismatic than the entire New England roster, and is more athletic than most of the Patriots offense. Maybe that’s one reason I’m rooting for Terrell Owens to make a comeback for the big game.
With the extra week of preparation, Owens should be able to play in the game and show us the new touchdown dance he’s been practicing the last month.
Mostly, I just want the game to be good. Last year’s contest took a half to get going, and it turned out to be an instant classic, (Ms. Jackson’s peep show not withstanding).
Of course, the commercials are an event unto themselves. I’m pumped because the new trailer for Batman Begins will be premiering along with the new War of the Worlds spot.
I was curious as to what else will be begging for our dollar, so I ‘googled’ (I hate that term, I just wanted to seem ‘hip’ and ‘cool’) Super Bowl commercials and found http://www.superbowl-ads.com.
Yes, there is a site dedicated to the commercials of the Super Bowl. Which, by the way, shouldn’t be confused with http://www.superbowl.com, brought to you in outstanding clarity by the purveyors of Pepsi-Cola.
As far as the game goes, I’ll continue the trend I started last year of picking the winner. I was wrong last time, so I’m not sure what makes me think I’ll nail it this year.
(In my own defense, I did say that last year’s game would come down to the last possession. I’ll be accepting my pats on the back any day now.)
Let’s break this original colonies contest down.
Offense: I give the edge to the Iladelph on this side of the ball. Even without Owens, the Eagles should be able to keep the Patriots off-balance. Those of you that watched the Falcons and Eagles Sunday, realize that McNabb is what Vick will mature into.
McNabb can run, has a strong arm, and makes plays in the pocket to give his receivers time to get open. If T.O. returns, the depleted New England secondary will have to work OT.
Defense: The nod goes to New England. The front seven alone is enough to wreak havoc on most teams’ game planning. Teddy Bruschi is playing as well as anyone in the league, and Rodney Harrison just loves to hit people.
When you throw in the schemes of the New England coaching staff, the Patriots are a stingy unit indeed.
Special Teams: Adam Vinateri, ‘nuff said. I know there is more to special teams than the field goal unit, but Vinateri is automatic. There hasn’t been a better crunch-time kicker in the league the last few years, and that suits New England’s dink and dunk, ball-control offense to a T.
Oh yeah, the Patriots’ return teams are statistically better than the Eagles also. There.
Coaching: Bill to the Belichick. Bill’s playoff record is now tied with Vince Lombardi. I doubt they will ever name a trophy after Belichick, but his game planning and focus has made New England one of the best teams in the new century.
The Pats are never out-prepared and it’s a testament to Belichick that such a complicated offense can look so simple.
Heart of a Champion: In honor of Rudy T. and the Houston Rockets, you can never underestimate the heart of a champion, which in this case would be the defending Patriots.
But Philadelphia is ready to make a name for themselves. Also-rans the last four years, the Eagles first trip to the Super Bowl since 1980 provides them a chance to give a once-proud sports city something to cheer about.
(10-1 odds the Rocky theme will be played at least 5 times between now and Super Sunday, and Sly Stallone himself will show up somewhere to shadow box.)
My pick: Philadelphia. I’m going to continue my fad of picking against New England until I’m right.
But I’m mainly just wishing for a great game, and for Paul McCartney not to expose himself at halftime.