Sunday, February 01, 2009

National February League

I took notes during the game.  When I saw something that struck me, I wrote it down.  The letters "S. Holmes" appear in a circle six times.  He's an extremely good player, and perhaps his best catch got negated by the holding call in the end zone.  I'm also happy he won Super Bowl MVP, because I have a football card of every Super Bowl MVP, and alas, I don't have a James Harrison card.

Kurt Warner has three playoff losses.  In each of them, he led a team to a pretty impressive late comeback, but the team still failed to win.  And I suppose that's the problem about crediting these comebacks and team wins to quarterbacks.  In the 2000 playoffs, the Rams were down 31-7 to the Saints, got back within three, but then the Ram punt returner fumbled away a last chance.  In the 2001 Super Bowl, the Rams were down 17-3, tied the game with under two minutes left, but then the Pats ignored John Madden's advice (who is gutless on coaching decisions--of course he fully supported Mike Tomlin's bad decision to kick a field goal on 4th and goal at the one on the opening drive) and drove for a win.  And tonight, the Cardinals were down 20-7, and Warner/Fitzgerald led a comeback, before Roethlisberger/Holmes came back.

John Madden certainly fetishized Larry Fitzgerald's big, strong hands.  How many times did he refer to Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as big and strong, and their hands specifically?  I mean, actually with the words "big" and "strong" and "hands"?  Really, "fetishized" isn't too strong a word, is it?

Pittsburgh's victory also gives further challenge to CHFF's suggestion that realignment has caused a mess of the playoff, leading to historically anomalous champions.  If we look at the last four Super Bowl winners, we see a team in the midst of making the playoffs in six of eight years and winning two Super Bowls, a team in the midst of winning 12+ games in six consecutive seasons, a team in the midst of making the playoffs four consecutive years, and a team in the midst of making the playoffs in six of eight years and winning two Super Bowls.  The Super Bowls this decade have been won by perpetual contenders.

In Don DeLillo's White Noise, there is a barn that is the most photographed barn in America.  This reputation leads more and more people to go take photographs of the barn, creating a self-perpetuating institution.  Ladies and gentleman, Super Bowl commercials.

Larry Fitzgerald's playoff run: 6-101-1, 8-166-1, 9-152-3,  7-127-2.  When he was running for that last blazing touchdown, I thought I was seeing Jerry Rice.

An extremely high percentage of Super Bowl commercials featured animals of some sort.  I have theories on the appeal of seeing happy, funny animals in the context of consumerism and consumption.  Mostly I think they provide comfort: by seeing animals as either happy and contented creatures, or as comical and silly figures, people can feel mildly comforted about consuming them.  My wife suggests perhaps training the animals is timely and expensive, and that Super Bowl ads have bigger budgets that can afford to make the splash.  But a lot of animals were CGI, and animals appear in a lot of commercial contexts away from the Super Bowl, too.  Suicide Food examines advertising featuring animals that want to be eaten, or that are eating their own food product, and suggests there is thematic comfort in such images.  I think perhaps the animals don't need to be suicidal to provide that comfort--happy animals mean we don't have to feel bad for exploiting them (they're happy, after all), and funny animals suggest they're hardly worth any dignity anyway (they're just ridiculous and silly, after all).

Are we all recovered from Bruce Springsteen's crotch hitting us in the face?

Earlier I suggested the rest of the season is more fun than Super Bowl Sunday.  But there is something intensely dramatic about the final minutes of a close Super Bowl game.  We often see plays in the final minutes determining the outcome of a game.  But in this case, we're seeing the plays in the final minutes determining the world champion.  Historical legacies are being formed directly in front of us.  It's thrilling.

Here are the future Hall of Famers I think we saw playing in the Super Bowl: Larry Fitzgerald (early, but he's a stud and his playoff dominance enhances his reputation), Ben Roethlisberger (a QB with two championships, he can basically be solid for the rest of his career to build a HOF resume, and he plays on a great defensive team that is regularly contending), Troy Polamalu (a superb player anyway, but being a great player for two championship teams helps his case), and Kurt Warner (I'm sold).  Other possibilities are Anquan Boldin (he's got historical great receptions per game), Edgerrin James (outside shot, I don't think he'll make it), James Harrison or James Farrior (very good linebackers), or a very young player like Santonio Holmes.  I would also guess we haven't seen the last of Mike Tomlin, who joins Tony Dungy and Brian Billick as former Viking coordinators that won championships as head coaches of other franchises in the 00s.

I can't help but wonder if we'll ever actually see the Vikings win this game--given that I've never even seen the Vikings in this game, I'm reaching deeper and deeper into the despair.  I wonder what it would be like to have been born around Pittsburgh, where I'd just be used to cheering for an historically great franchise with Super Bowl wins.  My wife notes that Minneapolis-St. Paul is a cultured metropolis, renowned for its theater space and high readership.  But it's ass-freezing cold three months a year and our sports teams never win championships (just the Twins, the only two titles since the Lakers moved--none of our pro teams have even reached the championship round since '91).  Minnesotans, just think how much geography determines your entire outlook on sports.  We long for that elusive dream of a Viking championship; some people are born in places where they get to root for teams that regularly win championships.  And that's all luck, random hazard.

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