Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Winter Break Nuggets of Wonderment

The Minnesota Timberwolves are 4 games over .500. If this keeps up, they'll be right back where they belong: losing in the first round of the playoffs.

If the Colts win the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning instantly goes into all discussion of the top 5 QBs of all-time, and by the end of his career he'll be widely discussed as the greatest of all-time.

For some complex and some simple reasons, I identify with Manning and the Colts (as I've expressed previously). Though a fair question remains, if the Colts do win a championship this year, do I have any reason whatsoever to identify with Manning? Once he wins that championship, he is then simply a great quarterback, and the aura of drama, tragedy, and epic failure recedes.

While I've openly rooted against the Bears all season long, and I still despise Brian Urlacher with growing intensity, and I rooted for the Seahawks on Sunday, and I enjoy watching Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, and Reggie Bush play football, and Chicago has already had the Jordan-Pippen dynasty and a White Sox championship since the Twin Cities had a pro champion, I'm inexplicably rooting for the Bears to go to the Super Bowl (where I would hope they lose to the Colts or beat the Patriots). But isn't that part of the fun of the playoffs? Of course you'd rather have your favorite team in the playoffs competing for a championship, but if it's not, then you sometimes get surprised watching a game to find out who you are rooting for. Of course, that happens in the regular season too--before the season, I did not know whether or not I would end up rooting for Daunte Culpepper on the Dolphins, and then, watching the first game, I found myself yelling and cheering when he got sacked or threw an interception. Again, I find this aspect of sports a microcosm of life: we are not always aware of what our subconscious desires might be, but in a moment of truth they may suddenly be revealed to us, and we may just be surprised at what those inner desires are.

I suppose you could give Tom Brady credit for another "clutch" performance against the Chargers. He did, after all, make plays in the fourth quarter to lead his team to victory. However, he and the rest of his team made mistake after mistake--and got bailed out by the Chargers' bigger mistakes. The Chargers could have won that game by 20, and the reason they didn't had less to do with the Patriots and their clutch play and more to do with their own foolish, foolish mistakes. Take away Parker's muffed punt (and decision to try pick it up), Florence's headbutt (I actually think he was just taunting and got pushed and it only looked like a headbutt), or McCree's fumble on Brady's THIRD interception and we probably have a different AFC Championship game. On McCree's play, you can give credit to a Patriot's good play (Troy Brown stripped the ball); on the other two mistakes, it was totally on the Chargers with little credit given to the Patriots for forcing the mistake. That's part of sports, too, of course (in tennis they're explicitly called "unforced errors") and if you're playing a team making such mistakes, you have to take advantage of those mistakes, which the Patriots did. But the Chargers just pissed that game away.

The Saints are tremendously fun to watch. Deuce McAllister has always been an amazing RB he's big and strong enough to maul defenders and drag them for extra yards, and he's got the speed and moves to break long runs), Reggie Bush is capable of several "wow" plays a game, and Drew Brees is a good quarterback. The Bear defense struggled against the Seahawk offense, and I think on offense the Saints are superior at every position to the Seahawks. They can easily go into Soldier Field and lay 30 on the Bears.

Three games left, and then comes February. I love football, but at the end of the season I feel like I've spent 5 months in Plato's cave, and somebody has set me free, and I'm crawling out of the cave squinting as I look out at the desert of the real.


  1. who knows who will win this weekend between colts and pats if peyton and brady continue playing so poorly? i suppose with manning one cannot argue against stats and regular season wins but if he loses to the patriots again with what i think is a vastly superior team ... no matter, manning ends up being a top 10 qb because he was annointed such ten years ago and he's probably better than joe montana in all things but cool.

  2. I am 100% rooting for the Patriots to win it all this year. First, because I love Tom Brady (even though he is a Republican) and I think he is a big game QB. Second, because I like having a Dynasty that everyone can despise. If the Patriots win again that will be what 4 in 6 years? Go Pats.