Students, Professor Bandito will give you a bit of history lesson today. Lets go back some 54 years ago. The NFL consisted of 12 teams in 11 cities. The league would mourn the death of its commissioner Bert Bell midway through the season. 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 Cardinals franchise played in Chicago, and were the poor south side cousins in Comiskey Park to the more affluent Bears who played in Wrigley Field. But they 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.
One of those spurned suitors was Lamar Hunt, heir to a 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, 12 city base. Hunt contacted another Texas oil tycoon, Bud Adams as well as 6 other 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.
The league started in earnest in 1960, though the NFL initially gave the AFL owners some guidance (Bell gave Hunt a copy of the NFL constitution to copy as a framework for the AFL’s bylaws.) they strategically moved to kill the upstart league before it got playing. The NFL awarded an expansion franchise to the owners of the AFL’s Minnesota contingent, but the AFL scrambled quickly and came up with a new team to play in Oakland. With 22 pro teams playing (14 in the NFL and 8 in the AFL) there was a lot more football. The NFL tried its best to ignore the younger league and for the first five years succeeded. Some of the AFL teams struggled, most notably in Oakland, Denver and New York and two of the stronger teams in Dallas and Los Angeles had trouble competing with their NFL counterparts and moved to Kansas City and San Diego respectively. Nevertheless the AFL survived and began to thrive after inking a multimillion dollar broadcast deal from NBC in 1965. This set off a brief but very expensive signing war. Realizing that this war would ultimately hurt everyone involved, the two leagues would agree to a merger, but not before two more franchises were formed in Atlanta & Miami and still two more were formed in New Orleans (to placate a Louisiana congressman that was helping to push through the merger) and Cincinnati (Paul Brown’s re-entry into football after 5 years.) The lasting result was 28 teams in a new NFL going forward.
Oh and one other thing, the NFL and AFL decided to have a championship game between their respective league champions. Then NFL commish Pete Rozelle liked the name Pro Bowl but since it was the name of the NFL’s all-star game, it would be foolish to change it to that. The name of the first two games were the awkwardly named NFL-AFL World Championship game, though writers had taken to the nickname Super Bowl. Rozelle hated that name, something Hunt had thought of watching his kids play with a rubber “Super Ball” but the name stuck and the NFL decided at the third game to make it the official title, retroactively renaming the first two games which were won the NFL’s standard bearer the Green Bay Packers in decisive routs. The Colts looked to be ready to hand the AFL’s third champ the New York Jets the same fate, but a confident Jets team backed up the “guarantee” of its brash cocky QB Joe Namath and handed the heavily favored Colts a 16-7 stunner that more or less legitimized the AFL, when the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the Minnesota Vikings in the last game between a separate entity AFL/NFL setup the AFL had more than proved it belonged and the Super Bowl was already a football institution.
Fast foward 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 its the foot high 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 its the ring that lasts forever"
Super Bowl 47
Baltimore Ravens (13-6) vs San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1)
For the NFL Championship and the Vince Lombardi Trophy
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 6:30 (CBS)
Favorite 49ers by 4
Super Bowl Fast Facts: There has never been a shutout or overtime in the 46 previous games and all but one (Miami in 6) has seen both teams score at least one touchdown each.
Fast Fact: This is the first time that teams with no losses in the Super Bowl have faced one another.
Last Meeting: Ravens defeated 49ers 16-6 in 2011 Ravens have won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings
AFC Champion Baltimore Ravens
Regular Season: 10-6 AFC North Champions
Defeated AFC Wild Card Indianapolis (#5 seed) 24-9 in AFC Wild Card Round
Defeated AFC West Champion Denver in 2OT (#1 seed) 38-35 in AFC Divisional Round
Defeated AFC Wild Card New England (#2 seed) 28-13 in AFC Championship
Team Leaders Joe Flacco 3817 Yards 22 TDs, Ray Rice 1143 yards rushing, 9tds, Anquan Boldin catches 921 yards 4 tds, Torrey Smith 49 Catches 855 Yards 8 TDs
1-0 in the Super Bowl winning Super Bowl 35
NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers
Regular Season 11-4-1 NFC West Champions
Earned 1st Round Bye as NFC #2 seed
Defeated NFC North Champion Green Bay 45-31 in NFC Divisional Round
Defeated NFC South Champion Atlanta 28-24 in NFC Championship
Team Leaders QB Colin Kaepernick 1814 Yds 10 TD, 415 Rushing Yards 5TDs, Frank Gore 1214 Rushing Yards 8 TDs, Michael Crabtree 85 catches 1105 yds 9 tds
5-0 in the Super Bowl Winning Super Bowls 16, 19, 23, 24 & 29
When the Ravens have the ball
Led by their quietly confident QB Joe Flacco the Ravens started fast kind of coasted to the postseason and grinded out 3 wins over teams with higher profile QB’s The Ravens arent the game manager/possession manager type team that won the Super Bowl 12 years ago. They have top notch players at the skill positions. With the highly underrated Ray Rice able to break off a long run at any point but able to pound the ball when needed. Speed at the wideout is in abundance with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith being burners but keep an eye on cagey possession Dennis Pitta who has become Flacco’s security blanket. The Niners have a punishing defense led by MLB Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks who have been stingy with yards and gruding with points. Joe Flacco has had plenty of time to throw the ball with a solid offensive line led by veterans Matt Birk and Michael Oher but the Niners are exceptional at putting pressure on the QB so it will be inter
When The Niners have the ball
Since taking over QB duties for Alex Smith some ten weeks ago. Colin Kaepernick has taken the Niners from playoff contender to Championship caliber. He adds a dimension of speed and daring to an offense that had gotten predictiable under Smith. Frank Gore is a bulldog of a running back who has a solid blend speed and power that keeps opposing defenses honest. Michael Crabtree has really matured into a primo target and had a monster season. Vernon Davis has become a bit of a forgotten man in the offensive scheme with Kaepernick’s rise but was getting plenty of touches in the conference championship he is a tough matchup for any defense. This defense aint the feared squad of yesteryear. Many of the names are the same Ray Lewis, Ed Reed et al. They are a bit older and slower but are still cagey enough to cause offenses problems and must be accounted for. The Ravens give up much more yards but dont give up the big play or big score
Much ado has been made about the Harbaugh Brothers facing off but the truth is that both coaches are top notch and are more alike than one would think. They both have the teams playing at top notch. The younger Harbaugh (Jim) may be a bit more likely to take a gamble or three while the older Harbaugh has been accused of being a bit too predictable in his play calling and forgetting about his running game at times.
The game is a bit too close to call. Both teams are more alike than not. Strong running games, swashbuckling QB’s unafraid to go after the big play. Defenses that will ballhawk and create turnovers. Coaches who are literally cut from the same coaching cloth. I think that the unflappable Kaepernick will be the slight difference here and for some reason, I think that this is the best defense Joe Flacco has faced and he will make just enough mistakes to get beat. This will be one of the better Super Bowls regardless.
Pick Niners 28 Ravens 23