Super Coincidence?

Last season, I felt like the outcome of Super Bowl Sunday was predetermined for the Saints.  The signs didn’t reveal themselves to me until halftime of the game.

This year, the favorite is the Packers.  Most expert analysts (i.e Don BanksAdam Schefter) are picking the Packers.  However, one has to be careful about favorites.  Vegas loves it when the  majority of bettors are leaning in one direction.  Mind you, the house always wins just by the spread alone.

There’s one thing that truly bothers me about this year’s Super Bowl.  I know this sounds silly, but it worries me that the Lombardi play is on Broadway at the same time the Packers are in the Super Bowl.  In addition, the NFL Network has been airing pep talk clips portrayed by the same actor Dan Lauria, who plays Vince Lombardi on Broadway.  The fact that the NFL has chosen to feature the legendary Green Bay Packers coach in multiple clips throughout the 2010 playoffs , gives me the uncomfortable feeling that the outcome has all been predetermined.

I’m telling you that Broadway show bugs me.  A Packers victory sure could help ticket sales.  The show wasn’t on last season at this time, but the show just happens to open the same season the Packers make the Super Bowl.   Super coincidence?

It also doesn’t help that one of the most popular hip-hop artists Lil Wayne just released a remix of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow“called “Green and Yellow“, which is a rooting song for the Packers to win this year’s Super Bowl.  Khalifa’s video features the Steelers’ terrible towel, but the songs’ lyrics are not specific to football, whereas Lil Wayne’s lyrics are all about the Packers.  It’s almost like Lil Wayne knows a little somethin-somethin, so he released his track in a most timely manner.

Truth be known, I’m a Steelers fan, so I have a vested interest in the game.   I sure hope that I’m misreading all of these popular culture omens that are leaning towards a Packers victory.   Go Steelers!  Like Wiz Khalifa says…

Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow

Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments

2011 NFL Conference Championships Predictions

I didn’t fare so well with my predictions in the first two rounds.  This time, I’ll try and do better.   I see the Bears and the Jets as your new NFC and AFC conference champs.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

2011 NFL Playoffs Predictions

For all my loyal readers, here are my NFL Playoff Predictions. Use them wisely.

electricrelish’s NFL Playoffs Predictions:

Round 1 Winners:  NYJ, KCC, SEA, PHI

Round 2 Winners:  NEP, KCC, ATL, PHI

Round 3 Winners:  NEP, PHI

Round 4 Winner:   PHI

You heard here it FIRST!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Faith in Fantasy

Touch Football Memories

I loved playing football when I was a kid. We used to play two-hand touch football on a short dead-end road or tackle in a neighbor’s back yard. We took turns playing different positions. I loved playing quarterback.

I guess you could say that I was a bit of a playground legend. I had a rifle for an arm. I used to carve up defenses with my pinpoint accuracy. Kids would often whine, and say that I threw too hard. My spirals were known to have bruised a few chests. Good thing, we only played with a Nerf. My hands weren’t big enough to grip a leather ball.

After a series of horrific injuries, I had to stop playing. A lot of the kids’ parents started to complain to my parents about how rough I was. It was football, for God’s sake. Kids are going to skin a knee, bruise an arm or worse case scenario – break a leg. They said that a seventeen-year old shouldn’t be playing tackle football with eight and ten-year-olds. No wonder kids are so soft these days.

I missed playing football. For years, I longed to find something that I could give myself to, something that would get my competitive juices flowing again, something I could believe in. I tried synchronized swimming, kettle bell competitions and IronMan Triathlons, but they just weren’t challenging enough.

Back in the day, I was running a card game at a nursing home in 2006. It was part of my community service program that I had agreed to do as part of a plea bargain deal. Those old coots were a lot of fun. We’d play for quarters, pudding, and hearing aids. Once, a guy put his dentures into the pot. Good times. Good times.

One of the residents Mr. Skinner introduced me to fantasy football. Old man Skinner had been invited to play in a family fantasy league with his nephew Charlie. It was a way for Mr. Skinner to connect with his family. We had a computer in the rec room. Mr. Skinner asked me for my help, so we formed the team Shock and Awe.

Mr. Skinner didn’t really like Charlie. He considered him to be a spoiled 15-year old brat. We vowed that we would crush him.

It was a lot of fun, except that each week I had to explain to Mr. Skinner why we couldn’t start Johnny Unitas. We drafted LaDainian Tomlinson that year, and despite his incredible performances, we were struggling with Brett Favre at the helm. Fortunately, it was the same year that Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the year. We grabbed Romo off the waiver wire, and it turned our season around. We won the championship.

You should have seen the trash we talked in the chat room. Mr. Skinner had a lot of pent-up anger being stuck in a nursing home. He gave the whole family a piece of his mind. After the season was over, they kicked him out of the league. I kind of felt bad about that since I often chatted on his behalf while he took his Sunday afternoon naps. Three hours is a long time to sit and watch one game for an eighty-five year old. You could forget about double-headers.

I have to admit that something happened to me that year. I had finally found the outlet I had been searching for. I got my competitive mojo back. I regained my confidence. I started to believe in my abilities again. I could fully grip the Nerf ball in my hand.

Fantasy Football is a lot like life. There are only so many resources available to you, so you must be extremely aggressive and pursue every opportunity to improve your lot in life or your roster. In a position of leadership, you have to bring relentlessness to the General Manager job, and you have to bring it every day. When you have an opportunity to improve, you have to do it. There must be absolutely no aversion to risk.

My fantasy football roster is more than just a list of names. It’s a work of art. It’s an act of faith.

You must have faith in yourself and your convictions. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. When you attend a football game, you experience elation when a player scores a touchdown, especially if the player is on your team. But how long does that last? You go home from the game. Maybe your bills are due. Maybe you haven’t a job. So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities?

I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the game. Everyone plays in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to play the game to the end? From within. If you commit yourself to believing in yourself, then that is how you will complete the game.

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fantasy savvy. And when I play fantasy football, I feel His pleasure.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Footballguys Nix Super Bowl Fix

I’m finding out that suggesting the Super Bowl may have been fixed is a very touchy subject. This week I have been posting my thoughts about the Super Bowl on various football message boards. While many people have disagreed, no one has objected to me expressing an opinion on the matter, until now.

Footballguys.com forums moderator Mark Wimer deleted my thread called “Super Bowl XLIV fixed?”. Next, he suspended my forum account for having a link to this blog in my signature. Sorry, but I glossed over that particular terms violation when I signed up six months ago. Surely, a warning letter would have sufficed. I was just looking for an easy way to express my points without having to copy and paste the entire article.

I wrote board administrator Joe Bryant at footballguys.com, and he agreed to have my account reinstated. However, I was shocked to find out that the forum moderator had removed my thread about the Super Bowl XLIV all together. Here’s the email that I received from the forum moderator Mark Wimer.

Mark Wimer
date Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 3:39 PM
subject ***Footballguys.com Board restrictions removed

Hello,

Joe asked me to remove the restrictions from your account at Footballguys, so you’re back in business on the boards.

Please do not advertise competing FF information/content in the sig line on our boards in future.

Also, really sensational posts that claim things like the ‘fixing’ of the Superbowl should be avoided. A lot of professional writers/NFL players read on our MB and that sort of claim is incendiary, to say the least.

Mark Wimer, http://www.footballguys.com

I have no problem with modifying my signature, which I have already done. I have no problem that the moderator removed my Super Bowl XLIV fix posting. It’s their site, and they can edit content as they please. I was just surprised that they felt so threatened at the suggestion that the outcome of the Super Bowl may have been predetermined. However, it makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t they want to shut down anyone writing and posting ideas that could threaten their very livelihood?

Pro sports is an annual trillion dollar industry. The main attractions to pro sports are the belief that they are spontaneous and that the outcome is undetermined. If pro sports were ever to be revealed to be fixed, then the attraction to sporting events would lessen dramatically. There are many levels of people eating off the sports industry including fantasy football Internet sites. The last thing they need is someone posting ideas that jeopardize their existence.

People who question the legitimacy of pro sports are often lumped in with JFK conspirator theorists, folks who don’t think we walked on the moon, and people who have unanswered questions about 9-11. As far as I’m concerned, that’s excellent company to be in. Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Fantasy Cafe deleted my post about the Super Bowl possibly being fixed, as well. They didn’t even e-mail me a reason. They permanently banned me from the site. I’ve written them asking for an explanation, but no response yet. Haters.

Posted in Commentary | 3 Comments

ESPN.com crowned the Saints before the Super Bowl ended

Big thanks goes out to ProFootballTalk.com blogger Mike Florio for responding to my e-mail that ESPN.com had republished their blurb about Drew Brees winning the Super Bowl at 9:20 PM EST, Sunday, February 7, 2010, which was about half an hour earlier before the New Orleans Saints actually did win Super Bowl XLIV. This posting was ESPN.com’s second premature championship anointment of the Saints. ESPN.com’s first prophetic posting, which was later removed, was pointed out on Saturday, February 7, 2010 by ProFootballTalk.com. Although Florio makes light of the suggestion mentioned in my earlier posting that the game’s outcome was predetermined, I appreciate him giving attention to the subject.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Who You Foolin’?

Drew Brees basks in Super Bowl glory.

More than 106 million people watched the New Orleans Saints triumph over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, thus making it the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. Another 6.7 million viewers made it the top television program of all time in Canada. The day after the big game, I listened to sports radio talk shows, read numerous articles on the web, browsed football blogs and message boards, and I still have not found any one to report seeing the same things that my girlfriend so acutely pointed out.

Let me back up for a moment, and give you some perspective on my frame of mind frame before watching the game. On Saturday, February 6, 2010, ProFootball.com reported that the ESPN.com had posted an article asking readers to rank quarterbacks who had won only one Super Bowl. The original posting was removed from ESPN.com, but it stated the following:

“After completing the best season in New Orleans Saints history, Drew Brees has finally won his first Super Bowl. Brees’ lone Super Bowl victory puts him on an eclectic list of starting quarterbacks with one title to their names. From all-time greats like Brett Favre to big personalities like Jim McMahon, 18 men have started and won pro football’s biggest game but once in their careers. Below, we’ve listed the 18, and now it’s up to you to rank them from top to bottom.” – ESPN.com

ESPN’s prophetic posting made me think that they knew something the rest of us didn’t know. It made me think that they had learned who would win America’s biggest sporting event twenty-four hours before the game had even started. It may me think that the fix was on. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Vegas at the time.

Rank

Of course, it’s possible that the anonymous writer had written this blurb ahead of time, just in case the Saints won. The item may have been published prematurely in error. Of course, if the Colts had won the Super Bowl, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning would have won his second champtionship. There would have been no real reader interest in ranking one time Super Bowl winners. Somehow, I don’t think the unknown writer was worried about that possibility because the posting found its way back on to ESPN.com with a creation time of February 7, 2010, 9:20 PM. ESPN published a revision of the posting declaring that Brees won a ring, when he still hadn’t yet done so. The Super Bowl game was still being played at 9:20 PM EST.

Reading this Saturday ESPN posting depressed me. I’m neither a Saints fan nor a Colts fan, so I had no dog in the fight. Even if the game was fixed, I still wanted to enjoy watching the drama unfold. I didn’t want the ending spoiled for me whether it was predetermined or not.

On Sunday, I told my girlfriend about the story, and then brushed it off. I started thinking about how much better the Colts had been playing in the playoffs compared to the Saints. I started thinking about how Favre had thrown all over the Saints defense, and how Manning should be able to do the same. Sure enough, after the first quarter of the game, the Colts had jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Manning was carving up the Saints secondary, and I had all but forgotten the ESPN.com posting. At the end of the second quarter, the Colts were still winning 10-6.

The Who perform at the Super Bowl

At halftime, my girlfriend and I nervously watched the legendary band The Who try and overcome the poor acoustics of the Miami open air stadium, while Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend sang, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?” After the commercial break, Jay-Z came on the screen rapping and posing, accompanied by the voice of Rhianna singing, “Only thing that’s on my mind, is who gonna run this town tonight, is who gonna run this town tonight.”

“Oh, I get it,” my girlfriend interjected.

“What?” I asked.

“The Who, “Who gonna run this town tonight,” and ‘Who Dat,’ ” she explained.

“Oh my God. You’re right,” I concluded. “The Saints are going to win.”

My girlfriend has a knack of picking up on the signs and clues that a writer leaves, thus she often can figure out where a writer is going with a movie or a book before she’s finished watching or reading it. Once she smartly pointed out the theme of the Super Bowl show, I knew the outcome was a foregone conclusion. CBS had been beating us over the head with it. Obviously, the Super Bowl producers were told who the winner would be, and they built the show around the “Who Dats.”

The Who were chosen to perform at halftime because their band name and classic song with the same name fit the show’s subject matter perfectly. Why else would the NFL showcase Pete Townsend, a registered sex offender, to a family audience on the worlds’ biggest stage.

Jay-Z and Rhianna’s repeated use of the lyric “who” from their song “Run This Town” was contemporary icing on the cake. These directorial choices cannot be confused with coincidences. These are conscious choices. Men At Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?” would have been a nice touch.

The Colts were the 14-0 team that decided to not go for the perfect record, and pull their starters the last two regular season games. Who could cheer for that? Sure, the Colts had wide receiver Pierre Garcon’s story about not being able to get in touch with his relatives in Haiti. Garcon’s impressive post season performance has provided inspiration and a healthy distraction for Haitians struggling through their country’s adversity. Unfortunately, Haiti’s sad story is ongoing, and it doesn’t sell as well as happy ones.

The “Who Dats” have been the feel good story all season long. Tagging the Saints as the inspiration for a rebuilding New Orleans, four-years removed from Hurricane Katrina, may have been a bit of a stretch, but it’s the one the media decided to run with. Add quarterback Drew Brees’ strength in overcoming his mother’s suicide last summer. Lastly, New Orleans hometown native Tracy Porter sealing the win with his fourth quarter pick 6 touchdown from former New Orleans local Manning, and you’ve got the perfect storm. You just can’t write this stuff. Or can you?

Skeptics may point out that there was no one single play in the game that the referees didn’t get right that led to the Saints victory. If the refs did their job right, there shouldn’t be. The game is shaped by the refs subtly with how they spot the ball, and what penalties they call and don’t call. The refs’ job is to put the designated losing team in much more difficult positions.

Still, there were a couple of controversial plays that stood out. First, the two-point conversion by Saints wide receiver Lance Moore that was initially ruled as an incompletion, but was strangely overturned. As ProFootballtalk.com reported, the NFL provided this explanation: “By rule, when a receiver with possession of the ball is in the act of going to the ground and performs a second act by reaching out to break the plane, that completes the process of the catch and the ball is dead when it breaks the plane.”

However, the NFL rulebook is in sharp contrast to this justification. The rule states, “”If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”

Moore did not have control of the ball after he touched the ground. There has been a precedence set on how this play has been ruled during the season. When the referees overturned the correct call after watching the replay, it was just bad television. They must have gotten some writers on loan from CBS’s CSI.

Secondly, why did the refs swallow their whistles when Manning was illegally blocked in the back by Saints defensive end Will Smith during the interception return? If that penalty had been correctly called, then a touchdown would not have been scored, and the Colts would still have had time to possibly stop the Saints, and get the ball back. Still, neither of these two examples are conclusive reasons why the Colts lost, but they sure did help the Saints assure a win.

Claiming that pro athletics are more show business than sports is no new revelation here. Most recently, the book Blowing the Whistle by former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, revealed how he knew which NBA games to bet on. Donaghy reports that he was right 80% of the time. However, his book was mysteriously published and then canceled before it came out, as if someone had made a deal with the publishers that they couldn’t refuse. Since Donaghy has been convicted for betting on NBA games, he has been completely discredited by the media. Besides, why would sports writers, who cover the NBA, want to support a story that might threaten their livelihood.

Why hasn’t anyone else pointed out the obvious “Who Dat” theme of the Super Bowl that foreshadowed the outcome? The reason is because NFL football is a mutil-billion dollar industry. The Super Bowl just scored the highest Neilson rating ever. There’s money to be made by everyone involved. Why would anyone want to spoil that?

Honestly, wouldn’t you rather believe that the game was on the up-and-up? You don’t tell a guy who goes to a strip club that the woman that he’s chatting up, isn’t really interested in him. He already knows that in the back of his mind. He’s paid his money, so that for a few minutes, he can escape and believe otherwise.

You don’t tell a child that the guy you’re waiting in line to see at the mall is not really Santa Claus. You let the child sit on Santa’s lap. You let the child indulge in a little harmless fantasy. It’s the same with sports.

We don’t want to know that the game’s outcome has already been predetermined. We want to believe in the magic of sports and its spontaneity. We want to believe that anything can happen.

If it’s not real, then I just wish they would do a better job in disguising it. Do we really need new themes each season. Isn’t the game enough? No, those days are long over. Hollywood and sports have merged for bigger and more dramatic stories each season.

Perhaps, The Who still have something to say to all generations. On Sunday, Daltrey breathed new life into his old anthem when he screamed, “Don’t get fooled again.”



Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments