One of the themes that has persisted in the four years plus I’ve been doing this blog is that I’ve talked about the changing state of professional football, which most of my life has been my favorite thing to watch. Not too long ago, it was this day, the date when the conference championship games were played, was like Christmas Eve for me. It’s the day that the two Super Bowl finalists are found, and etched into history for all eternity.
Now, with all the information that has come out in recent years about concussions, and how some playoff games (like the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game a couple of weeks ago) just resemble gutter wars with pads and helmets, I must admit the games have lost some of their luster for me. Too many players like Antwaan Randle El are regretting not playing other sports, paying too steep a price for playing a game they loved to play.
Back when I was growing up, there seemed to be a lot more mythology about the NFL then exists now. There were dynasties that existed despite the league’s attempts at parity. If the Patriots lose today in Denver, however, that will mean that the seven Super Bowl champions crowned in this decade will have belonged to seven different teams: the Saints, Packers, Giants, Ravens, Seahawks, Patriots, and either the Panthers, Broncos, or Cardinals joining them two weeks from tonight in the 50th Super Bowl.
Oddly enough, the Patriots are the closest thing that exists in this era to a dynasty, and yet they flaunt the rules of the league close enough to get slapped for it in Spygate, Deflategate, and some other controversy with a “Gate” at the end to come sometime in the future. This tells me one of two things, but I’m not sure which: the great teams of the past didn’t cheat as such, or they weren’t caught doing so, maybe even both possibilities are true.
Everything seems so objective any more. What’s a catch, what isn’t? What’s a dirty hit, what isn’t? What foul play is a fine, and what foul play is not a fine? What do the officiating crews see, and what do they not see, and why? A decade or two ago, everything seemed more finite, now a days, there are all of these shades of grey that go embraced that probably shouldn’t.
I’m also not a fan of numericizing the Super Bowl this year, by the way. As I’ve mentioned before, I was very fortunate to have gone to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa in 1991. This year, they are referring to the game as Super Bowl 50 and not Super Bowl L. Another case of tradition tossed aside for the sake of temporary buzz, if you ask me.
It just seems that change is the new tradition in the world anymore, or at least that is the way I see it. Someone change is good (in politics, I’ll always favor it, for example), sometimes change for the sake change isn’t, and how can we differentiate between these two things?
OK, enough of this tangential rant.