Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
It’s been a mediocre league for awhile now and, with only the Patriots as an exception (due to Tom Brady and, arguably, the greatest coaching and player personnel decisions ever), it will continue to be. With the salary cap and the multiple divisions and the multiple, dreaded wild cards (losers now can and do win it all), it almost seems that the goal of the NFL is to have 32 8-8 teams. Maybe most people think that’s a good thing, but it says here that the continuous ups and downs don’t make for a good league but do make for an “exciting” one.
Which brings me to the Arizona Cardinals. In the Super Bowl. Do they deserve it? Absolutely. Kurt Warner, a Hall of Fame quarterback (in this writer’s opinion) before this year’s shocking playoff run, has shown these guys how to win. With the second best receiver in football, Larry Fitzgerald (no, he’s not yet better than Randy Moss) and unhappy Anquan Boldin, Warner’s got some big-time weapons. But the fact that they are even in the Super Bowl speaks to the overall mediocrity of the NFL.
For a six seed (the Eagles) to play a four seed (the 9-7 division-winning Cardinals) for the NFC Championship tells you all you need to know about the competitiveness and mediocrity of the NFC. Would the Giants have rolled to consecutive Super Bowls with Plaxico Burress on the team? We’ll never know, but Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning looked like the mediocre Manning of old against the Eagles on a windy day at the Meadowlands. It would have been hard to beat the Eagles (even with Plaxico) the way the conditions worked against the Giants (i.e., the wind against Manning’s ability to throw).
In the wacky world of the NFL, who would you rather have quarterbacking your team, Kurt Warner or Eli Manning? Well, Warner had the Giants at 5-4 a few years back when Tom Coughlin, no matter what he said then, threw in the towel for the season and started Eli the rest of the way. The results were a very poor 1-6 for Eli the starter but all Giant fans (including this one) agree now that Manning’s on-the-job training was the start of the miraculous run of a year ago. Despite my own personal feelings that there shouldn’t even be wild cards (losers win), it was exciting to see the Giants become a wild card Super Bowl champion.
It still seems that Kurt Warner is the better quarterback while the Giants reportedly will soon make Eli Manning the highest paid player ever in NFL history (timing is everything) to be the QB of the Giants for the next 10 years or so.
HERE COME THE STEELERS
While very few, if any, “experts” gave the Cardinals any real chance to get this far, it says here that this is the end of the line for them. The Steelers should be able to run on the Cardinals. Willie Parker won’t be running against the vaunted Ravens defense. The Cardinals will have trouble running the ball against the Steelers excellent defense. They can throw it as well as anyone but this is the game in a nutshell: who can run the ball?
The Cardinals were pretty bad away from home this year but they did pull off that stunning upset on the road against Carolina. Hard to say how much of that was Jake Delhomme and how much of it was Arizona but Carolina was undefeated at home this year so give the Cardinals credit. And while the Super Bowl is at a neutral site, the Steelers seem to be superior, especially defensively, to the Cardinals.
HOW ABOUT AN ALL WILD CARD SUPER BOWL?
It could have been an all-wild card Super Bowl if the Ravens could have beaten the Steelers. Would that have been a good thing? Not really except for this: the goal of all of these major sports today is to keep as many teams alive for the playoffs (anything can happen then, right?) as possible. Hope springs eternal and the more games late in the season with “playoff ramifications,” the more exciting a league exists for all.
The regular season is greatly cheapened by the wild cards (it’s even worse in baseball where you play 162 to get knocked out in a best of five – see Cubs, Chicago) but nobody seems to care – now 12 teams (in the MFL) get a second bite of the apple. Why not just have 16 two-team divisions (think of the rivalries!), no first round byes and make it like March Madness – the Sweet Sixteen. Think of the possibilities, the excitement, the additional money for the owners!! Just kidding (I think).
So we now start the annual two-week Boring Bowl before the game begins. It’s almost amateur hour at Super Bowl time. Apparently more people care about the commercials, the pageantry, the absurdly-long half-time show (with or without The Boss, somebody with a brain should make it shorter) and the even more absurdly long pre-game show than the game itself. The half-time show, in particular, is an ongoing disaster from an “it’s all about the game” perspective because it can change the actual game itself, a terrible thing. But hey, everybody’s got to make money so here we are.
The Super Bowl, once a stunningly attractive football game is, for all but hard-core fans (and/or gamblers), now a sideshow.
But hey, who cares?
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.