Let's do this Gabbers: Grade the Super Bowl like you would a term paper and break it down into different subcategories. What grade do you give coaching, intangibles, defense, offense, media coverage, etc…
OK Chilluns gather ‘round for a story. We’ll go way back to 1959 when the NFL consisted of 12 teams in 11 cities and was just starting to emerge as a force on the sporting landscape. The Colts (who were playing happily in Baltimore) would defeat the New York Giants for the second time in as many seasons to win the NFL title. The NFL landscape was primarily a northern and eastern entity the most southern team in 1959 was Washington with the Rams and Niners being the only teams west of the Mississippi. The Cardinals franchise played in Chicago, and was the poor south side cousins in Comiskey Park to the more affluent and popular Bears who played in Wrigley Field. The Cards were owned by Violet Bidwell-Wolfner widow of Charles Bidwell one of the more senior owners in the NFL. She was besieged by suitors for her ball club who was losing money. The Bidwell family decided to spurn all the suitors and not sell, and instead moved to St. Louis where for 27 years they would be the football counterpart to a more famous (and more successful) baseball team of the same name. The Bidwell family still owns the Cards to this day and have since moved on to Arizona where they are the host team for this year’s title tilt.
One of those spurned suitors was Lamar Hunt, heir to an oil tycoon fortune. Hunt was frustrated in his bid to buy the Cardinals and annoyed that the NFL showed no signs of expanding beyond its 12 team, soon to be 12 city base. Hunt contacted another Texas oil tycoon, Bud Adams as well as 6 other high dollar men, would be owners including Barron Hilton (yeah the hotel owner and Paris’ grandfather) Bob Howsam in Denver, Billy Sullivan in Boston and Detroit insurance magnate Ralph Wilson (who was considering Miami, then chose to go to Buffalo because it had a stadium to join his “foolish club” which would become the American Football League.
Now at first the NFL was helpful, then commissioner Bert Bell gave Hunt a copy of the NFL’s constitution and by-laws to give a framework of a setup. Bell seemed to be at the very least indifferent to the idea of a new league but wasn’t openly hostile at first. Unfortunately Bell passed away during the 1959 season at a game and the NFL took its time about naming a new commissioner. The 12 owners of the NFL in contrast were openly hostile to the thought of a competing league and tried to take steps to kill the league before it got off the ground, creating expansion teams in Dallas and Minneapolis the former was where Hunt was creating a team and the latter awarded to owners who were going to create an AFL in the Twin Cities. They also approved the Cards move to St. Louis to keep them out of that city as well. The preemptive strikes shut the AFL out of two potential markets and made the third a tough go for the founder of the new league. The AFL had to scramble to find a new owner and market and settled on Oakland whose initial owner the enigmatic Chet Soda who had to be talked out of naming the team the Señors, he settled on Raiders instead. That team would struggle for the first couple years and the soon to be iconoclastic Al Davis would join the team as a coach in 1963, turning the doormat to powerhouse In any case the AFL launched with 8 teams and though at times unsteady developed as a pro league with teams in new cities with Boston, Buffalo, Denver and Houston and teams in established NFL cities of New York, Los Angeles. Dallas was a newly created NFL City and Oakland was just across the bay from the 49ers who had been in the NFL a decade. Though wobbly, with the Chargers having to move downstate to San Diego after one season and the Texans having to relocate Kansas City and rebrand as the Chiefs in 1963, The league began to establish itself as solid pro league despite the shaky status of the Raiders, the ineptness of the Titans ownership (who would later become the Jets) and the hideousness of the Broncos brown and yellow vertically striped socks. After gaining a TV contract with NBC in 1965 that added a nice cash infusion to the teams, the AFL stepped up its pursuit of the best college players. The problem started when Giants kicker Charlie Gogolak played out his option with the New York Giants and signed with the Buffalo Bills becoming the first NFL player to “jump leagues”. This enraged the NFL who then went about trying to destroy the AFL with a big money bidding war. But the AFL hung in and the number of players were drafted by teams in both leagues increased dramatically, when Raiders GM Al Davis became commissioner of the AFL in 1966 and openly tried to recruit established NFL stars to jump to the AFL this started a series of negotiations that would end the bidding war and merge the two leagues. Not only did this bring about a merger, both leagues were creating teams that would bring pro football to what was once considered far flung outposts like Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati. In June 1966 a merger between the AFL and NFL was announced for 1970 and creation of a World Championship game between the two leagues in January, 1967. Initially called the AFL-NFL Championship game, the first matchup between the Packers and Chiefs was a 35-10 rout in favor of the Packers and to some confirmation that the AFL was still out of their league. Although what many overlook was that the game was only 14-10 at the half and a Packers interception in the 3rd quarter that set up a score making it 21-10 was the key point in the game. The game was nicknamed the Super Bowl but NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle hated the name. He wanted to initially call the game the Pro Bowl but that was already in use as the NFL’s All-Star game, with no workable alternatives eventually the name became official with the 3rd game. That game was the historic Jets upset of the seemingly invincible 13-1, 18 point favorite Colts that gave the AFL more credibility and with the Chiefs thumping the Vikings in the 4th Super Bowl, the last game for an AFL team as its own league, the game was seen more and more as the crown jewel of the pro game. The NFL went on as a 26 team, 2 conference entity with the Super Bowl as its championship game and has grown to the 32 team behemoth. The game has grown in stature being the most watched sporting event every year with the top four most watched broadcasts in US history are Super Bowl game with the broadcast rights and commercial spots being highly coveted as it rotates among the networks. How much food is consumed? Only Thanksgiving ranks higher in consumption. Fast forward back to present day where the Super Bowl is the crown jewel of football and the dream of every football player. The winning team will get a $92K payday but it’s the foot high 7 pound Tiffany Silver Trophy that is the desire. The best quote is from Johnny Davis who was a reserve running back for the Niners in their first Super Bowl win. "The money is nice, but I'll spend that it’s the ring that lasts forever" So now you have a bit of insight on how we have come to know as the defacto sporting holiday as Super Bowl Sunday.
SUPER BOWL 49 (XLIX)
New England Patriots (14-4, #1 AFC Seed) vs Seattle Seahawks (14-4, #1 NFC Seed)
For the NFL Championship and the Vince Lombardi Trophy
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 6:30 (NBC- Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya)
Favorite: Pick ‘Em
Fast Facts on the Game:
Second Super Bowl played in this venue, the third played in the greater Phoenix area (Super Bowl 30 played in Tempe)
Fifth time since the current playoff format was implemented in 1990 that the conferences #1 seeds made it to the Super Bowl. With both teams sporting 14-4 records the winning team will have the NFL’s best record
There has yet to be a shutout or overtime in the Super Bowl
Pete Carroll coached the Patriots from 1997-1999 and was succeeded by Bill Belichick whom had just resigned from the Jets a day after taking the position. The Patriots had to pay the Jets a first round pick as compensation. Carroll also coached the Jets briefly for a season.
Carroll and Belichick join Don Shula, George Allen, Forrest Gregg, Marv Levy, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy and John Fox to take a team to a Super Bowl in their 2nd or 3rd coaching stop
With a win: Carroll becomes first coach to win multiple college titles and Super Bowl Titles. Belichick becomes only second coach to win four Super Bowls (Noll)
Last Meeting Seahawks won 24-23 in 2012
NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks
Regular Season: 12-4 NFC West Champions
Head Coach Pete Carroll 50-30 in 5 seasons in SEA; 83-61 in 9 seasons with NYJ, NE & SEA; 91-65 overall
Earned First Round Bye as NFC #1 Seed
Defeated NFC South Champion Carolina 31-17 in NFC Divisional Round
Defeated NFC North Champion Green Bay in OT 28-22 in NFC Championship
Team Leaders Russell Wilson 3475 Yards 20 TDs Marshawn Lynch 1306 Yards 13 TDs Doug Baldwin 66 Rec 825 Yds 3 TDs NFL #1 Defense by yards and points allowed
1-1in the Super Bowl (Defending Super Bowl Champs, lost in SB 40)
SEA Fast Fact: First team since 2004 Patriots to win a playoff game the year after winning a Super Bowl
AFC Champion New England Patriots
Regular Season 13-3 AFC West Champions
Head Coach Bill Belichick 175-65 in 15 Seasons in NE; 211-109 in 20 overall season in CLE & NE; 232-118 overall.
Earned 1st Round Bye as AFC #1 Seed
Defeated AFC #2 Wild Card Baltimore 35-31 in AFC Divisional Round
Defeated AFC East Champion Indianapolis 45-7 in AFC Championship Game
Team Leaders Tom Brady 4109 Yards 33 TDs, Rob Gronkowski 82 Rec 1124 yds 12 TDs
3-4 in the Super Bowl Wins (35, 37, 38) Losses (20, 31, 42, 46)
NE Fast Fact The Patriots are part of an AFC monopoly over the last 18 Super Bowls, the Steelers, Broncos , Colts and Ravens have all been to multiple Super Bowls 16 of 18 in that span and all the wins have been by these five franchises (Raiders and Titans the only single game interlopers who both lost)
When the Seahawks have the ball
The Seahawks are a run to set up the pass type of team. Marshawn Lynch is a media sphinx who frustrates reporters with his monotone repetitive answers and defense bruising yet deceptively quick running back that is capable of breaking a long run as well as running through and over tacklers, sometimes on the same play. Russell Wilson has grown into the big time and has the mobility enough to make defenses respect his scrambling. Wilson and Lynch run the read-option offense to near flawless execution. The Patriots defense relies on the fact that most teams have a hard time keeping up with their offense so a bend but don’t break mentality often is the rule here. Vince Willfork is the veteran anchor here and it will be interesting to see the first couple meetings between these players.
When The Patriots have the ball
Start with Tom Brady who went from 6th round afterthought pick in 2000 to Hall of Fame lock today, he runs an offense that lacks name talent but can score and score often. Rob Gronkowski is a goof off the field but on it is a matchup nightmare on the field, a big talented target that can outrun a linebacker and run over a cover corner or safety. Underrated Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are complementary receivers that are very dependable in their own right. They face the ferociously nicknamed the Legion of Boom, the Seahawk defense led by the ever loquacious Richard Sherman who is the standard bearer of shutdown corners in the NFL. Calling his defensive backfield mates Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor very underrated or lesser heralded would be quite the misnomer now as few offenses are foolish enough to test them often. The Seahawks secondary is as tough as they come and will be a handful to avoid. Add in free agent pick up Cliff Avril as a good pass rusher and Brady might have a harder time than the experts think he will. To gain a decided edge the onus will be on the Seahawks defensive line to get a push up front and hit Brady early and often.
Pete Carroll is a player’s coach, his unbridled enthusiasm is no act he’s a coach that brings an energy that his player feed off of and mirror. He runs a tight ship but is loose enough where the players play hard for him. Bill Belichick is monkish, wonkish and the definition of a grumpy frumpy coach but his businesslike mantra has made the Patriots the 21st century’s dominant team that has missed the playoffs only twice in his tenure with 14 consecutive winning and double digit win seasons. Both coaches get the most out of hidden gems and underrated talent.
On paper this looks to be an even game, the Pats high powered offense against the defending champs’ rugged defense. But the real game will be on the other side. If Russell Wilson shakes off his yips from the NFC championship and is the mobile whirling dervish that he can be, the Pats are in trouble. Marshawn Lynch is the key, when he gets rolling, he seems to get stronger as the game goes on and his punishing run style is known to wear defenses down to the point where he can break a long run. It will be a tight game all the way through but the Seahawks defense can run the best known policy on to beat the Patriots: Hit Tom Brady early and often. I think Sherman or Thomas makes a big enough hit on Gronkowski to tip the scales enough to get the win and the Seahawks become only the 9th team to repeat as Super Bowl titlists
While lacking any ambition whatsoever to do anything today but get ready for the Patriots game tonight...
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay
If you missed my blog post earlier this week about the basketball action from last Sunday, you can check it out HERE.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The time for all the talking and hype is soon to be over. I've spent the week mostly ignoring almost all of the Super Bowl articles on TV and in the papers. Yes, I read a piece here or there but for the most part it was, as Led Zeppelin sang about, a communication breakdown.
But the game is upon us in a few hours and all I can say is...
The Celtics finished off their six game road trip with a 3-3 record after splitting the last two games. It wasn't as bad as some might have expected so a break even set of away games is probably an improvement for the team.
They knocked off the Utah Jazz 99-90 behind a 19 point, 5 assist performance from Tayshaun Prince (pictured below), who saw 30 minutes of action. It's funny how this situation is developing. When he came to Boston, he was tagged with the "soon to have his contract bought out" designation. But Boston didn't quite get around to that. Then he put on the uniform and he has brought a little extra "oomph" to the team's performance on the court. And he's doing this while clearly wanting to leave the team. With the twilight of his career upon him, Prince leaves no doubt that he wants to finish with a contender. The great thing is that he is doing what a true professional does, his job.
The standout team stat for the Jazz game was that the bench players outscored the starters 53-46. Tyler Zeller had 14 points and 7 boards. Avery Bradley finished with 12 points, as did Jared Sullinger (he grabbed 9 boards too). Brandon Bass added 8 points and 7 boards. Marcus Smart (shown below) had 9 points and 5 assists.
The Celtics led by 20 plus points in the game and watched as the Jazz cut the lead down to four before finally putting them away.
In what might be chalked up to a case of overlooking an opponent, the Celtics ended the road swing with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota has the worst record in the league, but they dominated the Celtics 110-98. Free throws played a big role in the game. The Celtics went to the line for just 9 foul shots while Minnesota had 32 freebies.
Jared Sullinger led Boston with 16 points and 8 boards while Marcus Thornton (shown below) added 15 points.
Avery Bradley (shown below) scored 13 points and both Marcus Smart and Tayshaun Prince finished with 12 points. Brandon Bass chipped in with 10 points and 6 boards. Evan Turner also scored 10 points to go with 6 assists. Tyler Zeller scored 6 points and had a team high 9 rebounds.
On Friday night, the Celtics were home to face the Houston Rockets. Houston came without Dwight Howard but still had more than enough to stave off a big 2nd half rally from the Celtics and win 93-87. The loss drops Boston to 16-29 on the season. They are 4-20 for the year against teams over .500.
The Celtics trailed by 18 points at halftime but outscored Houston 22-9 in the third to make a game of things before losing the game. Of course, this is a pattern for the Celtics. In games where they play a horrid 1st half, they almost always have a rousing comeback in the 2nd half before falling victim to yet another loss. If they'd learn consistency from opening tip to final buzzer, they'd likely win some of these close games.
Marcus Thornton (pictured below) and Brandon Bass scored 17 points apiece to spark the Celtics offense. Thornton had 7 boards while Bass finished with 8. Tayshuan Prince added 13 points while Avery Bradley had 10 points. Tyler Zeller had 7 points and 11 boards.
Lafayette women's basketball player Jamie O'Hare made a nifty play and score the game winning basket in her team's win over Colgate this week. You can see the video below.
Bruce Pearl brought his Auburn Tigers team to play Tennessee this past week. It was his first trip back to the building where he used to coach and once had the #1 team in the country. Anyone who follows college basketball knows how his tenure at the school ended, but the trip was an emotional homecoming. You can read about it in this SI.com article.
Boston College Women - The Eagles were off this week. They play this afternoon. But junior Nicole Boudreau was named Eagle of the Week. Meanwhile, you can check out the video below for coach Erik Johnson's take on the first half of the season.
Catholic University - Amber never saw the court as her team lost to Susquehanna 76-62. The team got back on the winning track on Saturday afternoon with an 85-78 victory over Moravian. Once again, Amber didn't see any playing time as her team raised their record to 14-6 with an 8-3 Landmark Conference record.
Boston College Men - The Eagles squeezed in their game against Louisville on Wednesday. There had been some minor doubt as to whether or not Louisville would be able to get into Boston due to the weather issues.
The Eagles might've been better off if they had postponed the game. They ended up losing 81-72. A nine point loss against a ranked opponent might not seem so bad, but BC really needed to get a big win on their resume. This game showed that while the Eagles may be able to hang with some of the best teams in the country, they are still far away from having a legitimate chance at beating them.
The loss wasted a season high 28 points from Aaron Brown (pictured below). The point total is the highest for any BC player this season.
Patrick Heckmann scored 14 points in the game, adding 5 assists as well. Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) scored 11 points and tied his career high with 9 assists.
Will Magarity and Dimitri Batten tied for the team lead with 6 points apiece. Magarity (pictured below) had 9 points and Batten scored 5 points.
You can see highlights from the game below.
On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles found themselves on the road and behind the eight ball from the very beginning of their game against Clemson. They went down 27-10 to start the game and were never really able to mount much of a comeback. I was watching the second half of the game when they cut the lead down to 14 points, but Clemson responded almost immediately and put the lead back to 20 points. The final score of 64-49 really doesn't do justice to just how much Clemson dominated the Eagles.
Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) and Aaron Brown scored 15 points apiece for Boston College. Hanlan also grabbed 4 rebounds and had 5 assists. Patrick Heckmann added 7 points and 5 rebounds for the now 9-11 (1-7 ACC) Eagles.
I don't know what the Eagles do next to get ready Notre Dame on Wednesday night, but they'd best have a much better and cohesive effort against the Fighting Irish than they showed against Clemson.
Hartford - Before the Hawks played Stony Brook this week, Amber Bepko was interviewed on the radio. You can listen to the audio in the Youtube link below.
As for the team's game, Deanna Mayza hit a shot with 28.4 seconds left and the team's defense made it stand up as the Hawks knocked off Stony Brook 60-58. Mayza finished with 13 points and 7 assists. Amber Bepko scored 18 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Janelle Harrison and Cherelle Moore each finished with 10 points.
The win had a bonus milestone to it. It was the 300th coaching victory for Jennifer Rizzotti. You can see her postgame interview below.
Tennessee LADY VOLS - Tennessee pulled off a 73-72 victory over Kentucky earlier in the week. It was their first road victory over a top 10 team since 2008. The final score assures that they didn't make it easy on themselves, but another number indicating that fact was the 22 turnovers in the game for the Lady Vols.
Isabelle Harrison (shown below 1st) led the team with 19 points and 10 boards. Cierra Burdick (shown 2nd) added 16 points (she had 5 turnovers) and Bashaara Graves (shown 3rd) finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Tennessee is now 18-3 on the season with a perfect 8-0 record in the SEC.
Missouri State - Kenzie Williams scored the last 7 points for the Bears in regulation, forcing the game into overtime where Missouri State ended up falling to Drake 94-89. Williams finished with 27 points and 6 boards. Her offensive running mate on the night was NiJay Gaines (pictured below). Playing in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa she had a career high 19 points while adding 7 boards and 4 steals.
But Missouri State couldn't stop Drake's Lizzy Wendell (pictured below) who tied her career high of 43 points. They also had no answer for Caitlin Ingle who finished with a triple double (14 points, 11 boards, 10 assists). By the way, if you want to read more about Wendell, ESPN writer Mechelle Voepel had a great profile of her that was posted on January 29th. Check it out HERE.
As for the Bears, who now stand at 8-11 for the season with a 5-3 MVC record, Tyonna Snow had 13 points, 7 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals. Lexi Hughes had 10 points and Hillary Chvatal scored 8 points and grabbed a team high 11 boards.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
The large portion of the games scheduled to be played this week got postponed as schools in the area have been closed for most of the week due to the blizzard most of New England seemed to get swamped by on Tuesday.
However, on Friday night things started to get back on track.
Wareham Boys Varsity - The Vikings moved to 12-3 (9-2 in the SCC) as they beat Dighton-Rehoboth 50-44. Josh had 2 points and Mark added 3 points in a game that the coach called "ugly".
Wareham Girls Varsity - Tieyanna scored 18 points to help lead Wareham to a 46-28 victory over Dighton Rehoboth. The now 10-7 Vikings (7-4 in the SCC) got 8 points from Kali and 2 points from Erica.
Bishop Stang Boys Varsity - Jake led the Spartans with 18 points as they beat Somerset-Berkley 77-68. The win ups their record to 8-5 (3-2 in conference).
BOSTON RED SOX
It isn't a gigantic piece of news but on Thursday, the Red Sox and outfielder Daniel Nava agreed to a one year deal for $1.85 million dollars. I know my mom will love the news because she just loves this guy.
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS ARTICLES OF THE WEEK
The New York Giants website had an interview with now retired player Chris Snee looking back on his career as he begins life after football. You can check it out HERE.
The latest class of NFL Hall of Famers has been announced.
Music - The new Issa album Crossroads is due out in late February. The video for the title track has been released. I'm not that crazy about it but you can judge for yourself below.
Earlier in the week, Beth Hart announced she has a new album coming out on April 14th. It will be called Better Than Home. This news really got me excited. If you've read my reviews of past releases from Hart, you know that I'm a huge fan of hers. You can check out a trailer for the album below.
Movies - With the various troubles plaguing the planned reboot of The Crow movie franchise, Pop-topia's Kayode Kendall wonders if it isn't time to let it die.
Grantland.com had a really well done article on actor Gene Hackman as he turned 85 last week. You can read it HERE.
The teaser trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie was released this week. In all honesty, it didn't really do that much for me. You can check it out below.
Books - This week I finished reading the Rob Thomas / Jennifer Graham mystery Veronica Mars - Mr. Kiss and Tell. It is the second prose novel based on the TV series and follows the events of the movie and first novel. I really enjoyed the book as the authors did a great job of harkening back to the series but also moving the characters forward. This is especially important because after all, it is 10 years after the events of the show.
And I got my hands on a new Star Trek book this week as well. This one is Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown by John Jackson Miller. I'm way behind on the prose novels but sooner or later I will catch up.
TV - The Flash TV show introduced another character to its growing Rogue's Gallery in this week's episode. You can check out the recap HERE. As for the new episode of Arrow, there was a lot of shifting around of the various pieces on the chessboard...here's the recap.
The 5th season of Game of Thrones premieres April 12th on HBO. You can check out the season's trailer below.