Final 2008 Superbowl Thoughts

It's been nearly three weeks since the New York Giants saved NFL football by beating the 18-0 New England Patriots in a game for the ages. I've been trying to get my thoughts typed out and posted for the record, but just haven't been able to get around to it. The lustre seems to have worn off a little bit, but this was perhaps the most exciting superbowl I've ever watched! How many superbowls include 4 lead changes, 21 4th quarter points, an excellent defensive battle, and relatively few penalties or mistakes? It was simply a classic game, played well by both teams. I think I have to admit that it would have been a great game even had the despised Patriots won (especially since I've never seen so many grass stains on pretty-boy Brady.) But, they didn't! Therefore, I enjoyed this game nearly as much as I did the Steelers superbowl victory from a few years ago. Alas, here are my final thoughts on the 2008 superbowl, and then I'm on to hoping that the Patriots lose a little bit sooner next year.....

We watched the game at my friend Mark's house. I hadn't seen Mark and his family for quite a while, so it was nice to get together with them. Sharon's brother, Todd, went with us, and there were a few other Schreck friends. It was nice watching the game on Mark's big TV. Plus, all of our other venues this year (Minsky's, my house, Iowa, Todd's house) didn't seem to be bringing much bad luck upon the Patriots. I even enjoyed some Sam Adams after the game, which I had been boycotting most of the year in deference to whoever was playing against New England. Probably wouldn't have been as good of a memory had the Patriots won, but as it stands, it was a grand time!

On Jordin Sparks
Man, I don't know if I ever saw anyone look so nervous singing the National Anthem. She seriously looked like she was about ready to cry or pass out. I thought it was a good rendition, but I read somewhere that she may have been lip syncing. Not sure if this is true, or if it really even matters. Anyway, I thought it was a cool choice having her sing since her Dad used to play for the Arizona Cardinals.

On Tom Petty
I've read a lot of snark regarding the Tom Petty halftime show, but I thought it was really good--perhaps the best halftime show since U2. Plus, who could miss the connection between Tom Petty and Tom Pretty (or, Tom 'petty' Brady). The sound was good, Petty looked good (kind of like Willie Nelson) and the crowd seemed to be into the music. Mr. Petty (the musician, not the football player) is going to be in Kansas City in July, and I'd like to go to the show.

On Petty Tom
It was so nice to see Tommy Boy placed harshly on his rear so often in one game. I don't understand why more teams did not try this approach. The teams that did (Philly, Baltimore and the Giants) shut down the vaunted offense-of-the-century, for the most part. Of course, nobody expected that they would be held to 14 points! This guy is so unlikable. His affectations are so tiresome. I just wanted to punch him in the face when Manning came up to him in pre-game warm-ups to wish him luck, and Brady just scowled at him. That's not being competitive--that's being an ass.

On the Manning to Tyree ad-hoc Hail Mary
In-freakin'-credible. This has to be one of the best plays in NFL history, especially if significance is taken into account. I suppose the Immaculate Reception was more dramatic since it occurred at the very end of the game, but this was simply an incredible once-in-a-hundred-years type of play. I realize it was only 3rd down, but it was something like 3rd and 15. Manning was about to be sacked, which would have made it 4th and over 20 yards. He somehow manages to pull a Ben Roethisberger and get out of a sure sack, only to throw up a prayer in the middle of the field. Incredibly, David Tyree, of all people, catches the freakin' ball with his helmet! Making the play even more special was the fact that he out muscled all-time nice guy Rodney 'HGH' Harrison. The Giants still had work to do after this play, but, man, how could the God's smile on a play like that without guaranteeing eventual victory. Kudos to Tyree, who never has to do another thing in his career to be a true NFL immortal. Now, a lot of players suffer personal tragedy, and sometimes I think the storylines are overplayed, but I was glad for Tyree to be able to be at the center of such a big play since his mother passed away a few months earlier. He also had the key touchdown grab earlier in the 4th quarter. Seriously, based on this catch alone, Tyree could have been named MVP.

On Tom Coughlin
I've always kind of liked this guy, even when he was beating the hell out of the Steelers with Jacksonville. Then, I read that he is this big, bad mean guy that makes his players eat glass and drink blood during practice. People came out and said he wasn't a "players coach." I bought into the narrative a little bit, and lost some respect for the guy. However, he supposedly turned over a new leaf this year, and really made an effort to connect with people. I've heard him make the point that he knows that he is not perfect, but always tries to grow and get better as a person. In any case, I was happy for him to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the game, as opposed to Darth Belichick.

On Tiki Barber
One of Coughlin's most vocal critics was NBC analyst Tiki Barber. Now, I liked Tiki when he was playing. However, his criticisms of his former team this year seemed to go a little beyond the "keeping it real" stage. He was calling into question some of his former teammates character, and I did not like that. After the way he acted this year, I thought it was poetic justice to see his former team win one year removed from his premature retirement. Tiki--maybe you were the one holding them back??

On the Giants playoff run
Just like the Steelers a few years ago, the Giants won three road playoff games, and then the superbowl. That's 2 out of the last 3 years where teams laughed in the face of home field advantage. In fact, the Giants had been winning on the road the entire second half of their season--including once in England. Now, I think teams will still be trying to clinch home playoff games, but sometimes I think going on the road forces teams to concentrate a little bit more, whereas teams that stay home, perhaps even subconsciously, maybe take things for granted.

On Boston/New England
I had really developed a hatred for everything related to New England, to the point where I no longer even wanted to travel to the beautiful region. Thanks, Giants, for opening up an entire section of the country to me again.

On the upset
In my opinion, given the stage, it was the biggest upset that I've ever witnessed. I wasn't around for the Jets upset of the Colts. I thought the Steelers upset of the Colts in 2006 was huge, but that was simply a playoff game against an opponent that had lost a few times. This was the superbowl against an undefeated opponent that a large percentage of analysts were proclaiming the best team of all time in any sport!

On Plaxico
I was very happy for him. I never wanted to see him leave Pittsburgh. I think he is a complete player. Often overlooked is his excellent run blocking, which he learned from the master, Hines Ward. I think Plax is often misunderstood. Some people try to make him into a Randy Moss. I think he has some of Randy's physical gifts, but much more integrity. I couldn't believe (well, really, I could) how much was made of his non-guarantee predicted score of 24-17, Giants. He was skewered by everyone including Tom Brady. What irony that the final score turned out to be even lower than he predicted. And, nice catch there on the game winning touchdown!

On the commercials
They stunk this year. However, the Fox spots advertising the Sarah Connor Chronicles with their computer generated football players were pretty funny. And, it was cool seeing Ben R. in the American Idol commercial.

On the announcers
It's taken me a long time to admit it, but I enjoy listening to Troy Aikman. I despised Dallas so much in the 1990s that my hatred for Aikman carried over into the broadcast booth. However, he provides good commentary, always seems impartial and appears to be a genuinely nice guy. Joe Buck, on the other hand, I could generally do without. But, he did a decent job during this game.

On Adam Vinitairi
Well, the Patriots are 0-3 in superbowls without Adam Vinitairi.

On the preservation of the Steelers dynasty
The Steelers remain the only team in NFL history to win 4 superbowls with basically the same core set of players and coach. Make that 4 superbowls in 6 years! Now, that was a dynasty!

On Belichick's post-game (and almost post-game behavior)
What a chump. Perhaps he didn't know that there were still two seconds left when he ran across the field to give Coughlin a smooch, but making his players go back onto the field while he headed for the locker room was inexcusable. Is that model leadership? By most objective accounts, this guy is an ass. And, by hyper-non-objective accounts, like my own, he is evil. I don't feel one bit sorry for him.

On the Packers
Good thing they didn't eek out a victory in the NFC ice-bowl championship, because I think they would have gotten clobbered by the Patriots.

On 18-1*
Well, that trademark application for 19-0 is going to have to wait at least a year. Oops.

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A great Steeler victory in Jacksonville!!