Super Bowl 50 & My Chicago Bears

This year is the first year that features a Super Bowl matchup between two former first-overall draft pick QBs in Peyton Manning (1998) and Cam Newton (2011). Seems fitting for a milestone event such as Super Bowl 50. This is Peyton’s last shot at proving he can win the ultimate prize without the help of the losing team *coughRexGrossmancough*. On the other side of the field, Cam Newton and his flamboyant ‘dab’ celebrations are being compared to Donald Trump. The short of it is there’s no shortage of high profile stories to go around. Even Michael Oher of ‘The Blind Side’ fame is in on the press tour, with reporters hounding not only him, but the entire Tuohy family about what it means to see him in the Super Bowl.

That’s all well and good but I’m not exactly one to follow tradition (ever). I do like the Broncos, and will wholeheartedly root for them come February 7th, but I can’t shake my love for my hometown team: the Chicago Bears. So with that in mind, I present to you this list of five Chicago connections to Super Bowl 50:

  1. Ron Rivera is known for his defensive-mind. He honed those skills as a DC with who? The Chicago Bears.
  2. Ron Rivera won his last Super Bowl as a player with who? The Chicago Bears. And his last Super Bowl appearance as a coach was with who? The Chicago Bears.
  3. Both Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak ousted Head Coach John Fox to take over their respective teams. Who does John Fox coach now? The Chicago Bears.
  4. Carolina went 15-1 in the postseason. Who was the last Super Bowl winner to notch at least 15 regular season victories and clinch the title? The Chicago Bears.
  5. The last and *only* time Peyton Manning has won a Super Bowl? February 4, 2007 against who? The Chicago Bears.

So basically, my Bears are in the Super Bowl.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

chicagobears

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Why the Replacement Ref Situation is More Ridiculous Than You Think

The Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons Monday Night Football game was the absolute last straw. With the real NFL referees still in a lockout, the replacement officials are just simply not cutting it and the league is to blame.

I was one of those people in the beginning of this whole thing saying, these guys aren’t doing that bad for the situation they are in; they only had a few weeks to learn all the rules, cut them a break, blah blah blah. What do I say to that now? “Rule #76: No Excuses, Play Like a Champion.”

Oh yeah, I went there.

Except, I’m not saying that to the refs, I’m saying that to the league. Indulge me in the following analogy:

Remember the NFL lockout last year? Ok, what if instead of creating a work stoppage, the NFL decided to put AFL players in there and still call it the NFL? Guess what? A weed by any other name is still not a rose people. It wouldn’t be the NFL- it would be the AFL, with NFL rules and venues. How can the league think that bringing in Division III collegiate referees can serve as a legitimate substitute for the real thing? Not only do I not call that fair- I call that ridiculous.

What I’m getting at is that the integrity of the game is at stake. Just ask Baltimore Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, who called Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles ‘chaotic’ because of the officiating. Joe Flacco flat out said the replacement refs are affecting the integrity of the game. While Harbaugh isn’t by any means known for his mild manner, Joe Flacco is. When you have one of the least controversial and well-respected quarterbacks in the NFL calling these guys out how can you not acknowledge this is a real problem?

Monday Night’s game was just embarrassing. Not only were they blowing basic calls that my grandmother could have called right (she’s 83 and barely speaks English), they did things like give the Broncos an extra six yards on their touchdown drive that ended the first half. Oh by the way, the first half? It lasted almost two hours. The first quarter alone took AN HOUR. I watched the entire two hours of The Voice and still was able to catch most of the second quarter. Could it be because the Geneva Convention followed every flag thrown, which happened to be every other play?

If these refs can’t call the basics and get spots right, what chance do they have against the ever-problematic pass interference? The answer is none. Too many times in these first two weeks of the regular season I’ve seen great plays by corners negated by bogus 15-yard penalties. Those are game-changing penalties. They are penalties that have changed these games.

These refs have zero control over the game. I heard someone say the players are treating these guys like substitute teachers, which is absolutely accurate. These guys are fighting and jawing at will. What do the refs do? Call off-setting penalties so neither team actually gets penalized. Is it coincidental that one of the most topsy-turvy starts to the NFL season in decades comes when the NFL referees are on strike? Doubtful.

Steve Young said last night that despite all this, the desire for the game hasn’t changed so in the end, the NFL doesn’t care. That might be the truest thing anyone has said about this debacle. It is just sad.

With no new talks scheduled between the NFLRA and the NFL was the Monday Night game still not enough to nudge the commish? Wise up, Goodell. Can I get a ‘Roger, that’?

The NFL Preseason: Why so serious?

Football preseason is in full swing. HALLELUJAH we have all survived the purgatory known as the NFL offseason. But before you get too excited- don’t. I want to talk about the fact that people can and will absolutely take the preseason entirely too seriously.

Preseason football has little to no implications on how the team will do in the regular season. I repeat: preseason football has LITTLE TO NO implications on how the team will do in the regular season. Notice I said team.

People, the preseason is an individual affair. Preseason games are for rookies clawing at each other like crabs in a bucket for a spot on the roster. Preseason games are a time to preview newly acquired players and see how they mesh with their units. Preseason games are a time to feel out how ‘in shape’ the players have stayed during the offseason. Preseason games are a time of evaluation. Period. It does a great job gauging the successes of individuals ON the team. However, for the team as a whole, not so much.

Yes, my Bears got blown out last week by the Denver Broncos who started Peyton Manning. The Bears, didn’t. They didn’t even start Veal Cutlet (otherwise known as Jay Cutler). So as far as I’m concerned the game, and point for that matter, is moot. Yet, the amount of flack I caught after that game was ridiculous. Scared of big, bad Peyton? Hell yeah we were. If you were a rookie corner trying to keep a receiver from catching a Peyton Manning pass you would be too. But so what? It was the first game of the preseason. Relax.

Last year the New York Giants went 2-2 in the preseason, losing to the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets. In fact, they had a rather unimpressive regular season as well going 9-7 and just squeezing into the playoffs. You all know the rest of the story.

So before you get all caught up in the preseason games and results, save that sh*t talking for the regular season. Until then, I’m not going to waste my breath arguing with you. I’m nothing if not efficient, you know.

Tale of the Quarterback: Eyes on NFL Training Camp

My nose is acute with the smell of fresh practice field grass, my lips are already fixed for criticism on a cover two versus a man to man, my fingers are (wo)manned on my mouse ready for my impending fantasy draft in a few short weeks. Yes, ladies and gentleman, training camp is upon us, which only means one thing: FOOTBALL IS BACK- CAN I GET AN AARON RODGERS BELT THRUST!? And before you say anything, yes, I’m a die hard Bears fan but you just can’t hate him. Trust me I’ve tried.

This past week NFL players have been reporting to the confines of their cozy college dorms where they will study playbooks and play obscene amounts of NCAA and Madden 12 like the grown up frat boys they are. Throw in some two a days and we have got ourselves some content my friends. I would like to take a look at just which teams will have the most eyes on them this preseason. And so it begins…

Once Upon a Time, there was a quarterback of an NFL football team. His name was (insert really important football sounding name here) and he played for (insert team here), this is their story…

The Denver Broncos: If Peyton Manning doesn’t scream football player name, I don’t know what does. He was literally born to play this role: see related Mannings i.e. Eli and/or Archie. Following (a couple) hush hush neck surgeries and Manning sitting out the entire 2011 season, not only is he back, but he is back with none other than John Elway’s Denver Broncos, despite his already published legacy with the Indianapolis Colts. This Broncos team easily has the biggest target on their back as far as the media sh*tstorm goes. I have to say I have a good feeling about this, and not just because I’m listening to Avicii. The way I see it, Peyton wouldn’t even attempt to come back unless he had complete and total faith that he would return to Peyton Manning form. If Peyton Manning has faith in himself, who the hell are we to say or think otherwise? If Peyton says it, it must be so. End of story. I can’t wait for this next chapter in his career, and have to give a special shout-out to three guys from a certain southwest school I also attended who will be along for the ride. Brock- you learn everything you possibly can from that man, I know I don’t have to tell you twice. O, words can’t describe how excited I am to see you back on that field- and with the Champ! G-Rob, do your thing- and don’t you dare drop a Peyton pass! SD4L 🙂

The New York Jets: Ahh, The Timmy Tebow Saga continues. I can’t wait to see what Rex Ryan version .50 has up his sleeve. Wildcat? Convert Tebow to fullback entirely? Make him the starter entirely? I have to say when they picked Tebow up I totally thought that was it for Sanchez. He’s got the SC quarterback curse, all hope has got to be lost. But maybe Mr. Hard Knocks hasn’t given up just yet. And side note: seriously, can they make Hard Knocks permanently on the Jets? That was by far the most entertaining season. I’m not wrong.

The Washington Redskins and/or The Indianapolis Colts: Picking up the first two picks in the draft, both quarterbacks, mind you, you can bet these teams are on the radar. RGIII was pronounced starter out of the gate. With a definitive ‘guy’ you have to think Shanahan will show at least glimpses of those glorious Denver days. With the Peyton Manning departure, and Andrew Luck of the draw in place, look for the Colts to show up like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. They may not be effective right away, but with the ever accelerated learning curve of Mr. Stanford grad, you gotta think they will get it right by midseason, maybe in time to catch the playoffs? Wildcard at least?

And last but certainly not least, for my own personal benefit, The Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is healthy. They have signed their workhorse Matt Forte to a sufficient deal. They have gelled their offensive line quite a bit as well as made a key offensive pickup in Brandon Marshall, a familiar target to add to their Cutler-y (ya see what I did there?). The defense, yes, is becoming increasingly more ‘veteran’ but with a more high powered offense hopefully we can preserve those guys a few more years by not having them take the field every 37 seconds.

All I can say is thank God we have the Olympics to hold us over til the real fun begins. Happy training season everyone!

Are You Not Entertained?

Patience is a virtue I will readily admit I do not have. When I get something in my head, I want it done. Like, right now. You can bet that if my neck and millions of dollars are on the line, I’m jumping in faster than LeBron’s hairline is receding. For this reason (among others), I wouldn’t be a very good franchise player.

However, this same ‘patience’ got quarterback Drew Brees a record-breaking $100 million dollar contract with his beloved NOLA Saints. It got Matt Forte a deal right before the deadline of his franchise tender expired with the Chicago Bears. It got the hungry Ray Rice the compensation he is worth.

Maybe I should get some of this patience stuff after all.

I have to wonder though, is this all necessary? As I have mentioned before, professional contracts have gotten out of control, see What Happened to the Nice Guys? Allow me to venture the idea that maybe, the teams, leagues and even we as fans, are actually responsible for all of this.

I mean, didn’t Drew Brees know that the Saints would do whatever it took to keep him? Didn’t the Bears know they didn’t have a fighting chance without Forte, even with Chicken Cutlet healthy? You gotta think the Raven’s knew that Rice’s contributions allowed Flacco the flexibility of a 9-year-old Chinese gymnast offensively.

In situations like Brees, Forte and Rice, these players made it blatantly clear they wanted to stay. When you as a team, know you are gonna give the players what they want anyway, why all the hoop-lah?

I have an answer for you: because it keeps people interested. At the most basic level, sports are just entertainment. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. While you men may think women are crazy for being so consumed with 50 Shades, is your constant monitoring of ESPN and NFL Network really any different? Three words guys: Dwight Howard Trade. Hashtag: #thingsmorecomplicatedthanwomen… can I get a trending topic??

Yeah, it’s patience alright, if patience is spelled D-R-A-M-A.

Maybe if we stopped and smelled the Old Spice we’d all realize that sports would exist without all the twisting plot lines and insane amount of money because of the simple fact sports are a love affair. But they build bonds, they forge new friendships and subsequently break relationships (if only on Sundays). The athletes themselves love to play and we as fans, love to watch. So in the end, that little bit of drama makes it all worth it, God help us all.

Just next time your girlfriend is on the phone catching up with her friend about the latest happenings of The Bachelorette instead of rolling your eyes, think about you and your buddies convos at the bar. You might just be surprised that with a few name changes and metaphors, the nature of the conversation isn’t so different after all.

Poor Little Tink Tink No More

Oscar Pistorius is “in tune with his star player” as Katt Williams would put it. The South African Olympic Committee officially cleared the 25-year-old after some controversy to run the 400m and 4x400m relay in London this summer.

So what? you ask. There are 125 athletes on the South African Track and Field team. What makes Pistorius so special? Well, I’ll give you one reason: he doesn’t have legs.

Yes, you read right. Instead, Oscar Pistorius has carbon fiber blades from the knee down giving him the notorious nickname of “The Blade Runner” (clever right?). Pistorius had both legs amputated at 11 months old but still spent much of his life involved in sports and took up track and field as a teenager to help with his rehab after a rugby injury. He will be the first ever amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics. Ever.

How’s that for a story line? Screw Michael Phelps. This is the stuff made of gold- or rather, carbon fiber.

Pistorius tweeted his happiness and was quoted in an ESPN.com article saying, “To have been selected to represent Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay is a real honor and I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together.” So we know he’s happy- but I have to ask, what about his competitors? Indulge me in another Katt Williams reference, won’t you?

“The last place you want to be in a foot race is behind the motherf***er without no foots.”

But seriously though. How ridiculous are the guys behind him going to feel? ‘Oh who’d you lose to dude?’… ‘Uh’… ‘Well?’… ‘Yeah, I lost to the guy with no legs’ *blank stares followed by fits of laughter*

I’m not saying at all he shouldn’t compete. He should win automatically as far as I’m concerned. The outside challenges he’s had to face compared to his competition are infinitely more difficult. To go up against the likes of Usain Bolt, who encompasses the exact genetic makeup of a cheetah, you would think he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on so to speak. And he doesn’t, he has blades.

He will also defend his prior three Paralympic titles while participating in the 2012 London Paralympics as well. I know the underdog I’ll be rooting for this summer.

Westbroke

I would like to start by first reiterating something very important. This is an opinion blog with sprinkles of analysis thrown in. These are my thoughts and my thoughts only. I am not affiliated with any teams currently and am therefore taking advantage of my hiatus by freely stating my own, absolutely biased opinions. I am not trying to be objective. I am not trying to be politically correct. I am just expressing my views. Everybody on board? Good. Great. FANTASTIC.

Moving on. Ahh Game 4. I had such high hopes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 3 was ugly. I’ll admit it, they didn’t play with as much heart as the Miami Heat. Kevin Durant was useless in the fourth and James Harden committed the fatal foul to solidify the Heat victory. Ok fine, first game in Miami is a tough one, they’ll learn… right?

Wrong.

I found myself screaming at the end of Game 4- WHY WESTBROOK WHY?! similar to my WHY HARDEN WHY?! the previous game. Russell Westbrook puts up 43 points- nearly half of the team total- and then down three, FOULS as the Heat inbound the ball with 20 odd seconds left thinking the shot clock had reset. Newsflash Westbrook, it hadn’t. Stupid, stupid, STUPID.

Not to mention, James Harden seemed to lose his confidence come the fourth quarter. Never have I seen him lose confidence ever. I was there for his ASU career, working in the media relations department. I have seen some great comebacks with him as our leader. The guy is clutch. He’s been a solid 6th man the entire season for the Thunder, including the postseason. Why now? Like Jalen Rose suggested James, cut the beard- maybe that will provide enough of a distraction for you guys to catch up. Maybe.

With the knowledge that Durant was rendered ineffective in Game 3, where were the adjustments to get him open in the fourth quarter, Brooks? You can’t have Russell Westbrook be the one putting up 43 points. Those are KD’s shots to take.

The series’ leading up to this OKC had managed to banish the criticisms of being too young and too inexperienced. They had shut all the critics up. Was it too good to be true? They make it to the Finals, demolishing teams that had taken the title 11 of the past 13 years only to look like an AAU team against the Heat. What. Happened.

Is it perhaps that the Big Three have learned to close? Is this really their year? And if it is? If LeBron finally gets a ring? What does that change?

In my mind, nothing. Sure the jokes of LeBron having no rings will die, but in reality he will only have one ring. He still won’t be up in the category with the likes of Kobe and Jordan. It will be one measly ring. Not six, not seven, not eight. One.

Will this series go back to OKC? The odds are probably against it. And in all honesty, it would likely only prolong the inevitable agony, giving Thunder fans hope they can pull through. If there was ever a time for an NBA ‘miracle’, it would be now. Too bad it’s not Herb Brooks coaching the Thunder.

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