The Day After: Some Super Observations
There's a lot that's wrong with the NFL. Exhibition games. The disgraceful dearth of black head coaches. Endless, momentum-killing plays "under review." The absurd "No Fun League" penalties for tame on-field celebrations.
But the games themselves, most of the time, are still entertaining and exciting. And this year's playoffs were a masterpiece. Seven straight games full of tension, drama, incredible plays, and down-to-the-wire finishes.
The Super Bowl was a fitting end to this tableau. The Rams spoiled the Bengals' storybook season with a late comeback orchestrated by arguably the best offensive and defensive players in the league this year, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald.
It was, to quote Larry David, "pretty, pretty good."
Some other thoughts:
Kudos to the Rams for swapping Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, the trade that won a Super Bowl.
Boos to Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor for giving the ball to seldom-used reserve running back Samaje Perrine on the biggest third down play of the game with 48 seconds left at midfield, leaving Joe Mixon (who was having an excellent game) on the sidelines. Naturally, Perrine, who had two carries in the game for zero yards, came up short, and on the next play Donald hogtied Bengals’ stud quarterback Joe Burrow to end the game.
Congrats to Michelob Ultra for featuring local female super stars Nneka Ogwumike (Stanford basketball great, now WNBA union president) and Alex Morgan (Cal soccer great, now USA Team standout) in their Super Bowl ad along with Peyton Manning, Brooks Koepka and Jimmy Butler.
Rasberries to the NFL for the absurd introduction of the teams, right before kickoff, by the Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Imagine being one of the players standing on the field, waiting to begin the Super Bowl game, tension mounting, nerves fraying, and having to listen to that nonsense?
Here’s some interesting trivia thanks to SI's Dan Gartland. Only two schools have produced a US President and two Super Bowl MVPs—Michigan (Gerald Ford, Tom Brady and Desmond Howard) and Stanford (Herbert Hoover, Jim Plunkett and John Elway). The other schools with presidents and Super Bowl MVPs are the U.S. Naval Academy (Jimmy Carter and Roger Staubach), Delaware (Joe Biden and Joe Flacco) and Miami of Ohio (Benjamin Harrison and Ben Roethlisberger).
Among Donald Trump's guests to watch the Super Bowl yesterday at Mar-a-Lago were Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer, two coaches who share his disdain for the media and his fondness for cheating, demeaning women, and appealing to the lowest common denominator. The Big Macs must’ve been flowing.
And now our football withdrawal begins. With all due respect to the new USFL, we've got to wait until next August for the passion to resume.
Dubs Delight: One of the things that’ll get us through the non-football months is watching Warriors’ basketball. This year, with the return of Klay Thompson and the emergence of the brilliant rookie Jonathan Kuminga, it's appointment TV.
Baseball Boneheads: Meanwhile, the idiots who run baseball can’t reach agreement with the players’ union, delaying the start of spring training and putting the start of the season at risk. With the game’s popularity declining and many folks finding the sport tedious and unwatchable, this is the height of stupidity.
Last season, major league baseball achieved two dubious records: longest average game time (3 hours 11 minutes) and most pitchers used per team (4.43 per game).
Imagine that…the average game featured nine pitchers! Bob Gibson must be turning over in his grave.
More Bad News: Because of the increase in strikeouts and pitching changes, the average time between balls in play was about four minutes. Teams averaged nearly nine strikeouts per game last season.
And now they want to use the DH in both leagues. Sorry, I guess I’m old-fashioned, but if you’re going to play the game, you should get to wear a glove and hold a bat.