The League Of Changing Times

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

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.


The Night The Lights Went Out At The Super Bowl

The 47th Super Bowl was held last night at the Louisiana Superdome.  I dare say New Orleans will not host another Super Bowl as long as the aging domed structure hosts the New Orleans Saints or other big football games of importance.

For those of you outside of the USA, let me explain what happened.  The Baltimore Ravens had opened up a 21-6 lead on the San Francisco 49ers after the first half, and then expanded that lead to 28-6 when Jacoby Jones ran the kickoff to start the second half back 108 yards for a touchdown, which set a new Super Bowl record for the longest scoring play in the history of the event.  Announcers originally thought that the return was 109 yards, which would have been an all-time NFL record and the longest scoring play humanly possible in a football game, but the statisticians reviewed the play and determined it only went a mere 108 yards.

A few minutes later, most of the lighting inside the Superdome went out, delaying the game 34 minutes.  It was essentially a halftime break right after a halftime break.  It was a moment unprecedented in Super Bowl history, although power outages and delays for bad weather have occurred in NFL games before.

The outage also had a dramatic impact on the rest of the game, as the 49ers got hot.  Their deficit of 28-6 was trimmed to 31-29 with about ten minutes left to play, before a long Baltimore drive netted a FG to put the Ravens ahead 34-29.  Late in the game, with Baltimore deep in their own end and not wanting to give San Francisco a chance at a miraculous score to win the Lombardi Trophy, the Ravens opted to give the 49ers two points with the rarely used intentional safety.

And I did something I very rarely do: venture out of my home to watch the big game.  The last time I did that, oddly enough, was when I went to the Super Bowl to watch Super Bowl XXV in 1991.  Call me wacky if you want, but I like to watch what goes on with the game.  I don’t really get all wound up with the halftime show nor the commercials nor the oodles of hours of the pre-game shows.  Just show me the game.  But I’m glad I went to a party this year with the extra break time the power outage gave us.

Once in a while, it’s good to break your conditioning.  Glad I did.

Cigarettes And A Death In The Family

It was 21 years ago today.  January 28, 1991, a Monday.  I was 19.

I was going to northern Clearwater to visit and entertain my girlfriend at the time. My mother had won a contest Kash n’ Karry held where if you won, you got tickets to go to the Super Bowl.  Except my mom couldn’t go, my dad was very sick…he had cancer.  And the cancer had gotten to his brain by this point.  So, I went with a friend of my mother’s, an avid Giants fan, happy to see the New Yorkers eek out a 20-19 win.

So before I left for Clearwater, my Dad had asked me for smokes.

Christmas 1973 or so...

Watch the birdie..

“Hey P.J., could you find me some cigarettes?”

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