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Swagger for the Big Game

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Swagger for the Big Game

It has come to this. I’m trying to figure out what’s the stronger impulse, the surprise
that the Ravens have clawed their way through the muck and Joe Flacco outgunned
Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for a ticket to the big game, or the
sheer excitement for a Beyonce Nipplegate. Either way, this Sunday is going to be
a humdinger the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while, and if you don’t have a
big screen in your living room, it’s time to make friends with someone who does.
For the unwashed, it’s commercials and lip syncing, for men of Swagger, it’s a battle
for the prestige game of all sports. It used to be that the Superbowl was a pompous
letdown after a tooth and nail post season, but those days are long over and with
these two squads bashing heads this is looking like it’ll be something you tell your
grandkids about.

Superbowl “I can’t count that high in roman numerals” is nigh, and the otherwise
placid port of New Orleans is ready to be the first party visible from space. I am
once again putting my money against the Ravens, partly because I am stubbornly
convinced that the Ravens are no good (despite the clear truth being otherwise) and
if I was honest I like what the 49ers are bringing to the table.

Any 49er fan is looking at this team with tears in their eyes, a former powerhouse
under Joe Montana and later Steve Young has spend an awfully long time in the
wilderness floundering under funny ownership and frankly lousy coaches, but
Jim Harbaugh has taken a team that was lousy with potential and channeled it
into the new darlings of the NFC that look posed to be a powerhouse for years to
come whether or not they pull off the game this Sunday. It’s no secret San Fran is
going to pound the ground, but if they don’t, they can just throw it to Randy“More
touchdowns than god” Moss, who right now represents the most happily underused
weapon in the league and the likely cure to their apparent red zone blues. Did you
know one more win would tie the 49ers with the Steelers for most Championships
at 6? Dynasties don’t always take that sort of cat nap, but the odds in Vegas say
that’s just what they’re going to do.

All that said, you can take all the stats and storylines in the world and stack them
one on top of the other, and in a championship game it’ll never be more important
than that vaunted X-factor that puts everything else to shame: Heart. What the
Ravens have in spades is heart, and when it’s matched with a smart, consistent (if
conservative) offense and a defense that’s playing like their eternal souls depend on
it, you can pretty much win any game. Our much-maligned Mr. Flacco has shrugged
his shoulders at a world full of naysayers and quietly won the most “away” playoff
games in NFL history, as if that wasn’t enough, he’s done it with that snide “I don’t
care if I sell jerseys outside Maryland” attitude that’s so infuriating and admirable
at the same time that makes everybody want to punch him. The word is this is still
going to be Ray Lewis’ swan song win or lose, and if he actually pulls it off Jerome
Bettis couldn’t have done it better. He’s a guy that’s battled back from an injury, had
some nasty run ins with the law and won just about everything there is for a player
to win and still not have a ring. This is a good story, Lewis sure has earned it, but I
still don’t want him to have it.

So get ready to spend an entire 12 hours in front of the TV and not feel guilty about
it. Like it or not (and I certainly do like it) this is what America’s all about. Game on.

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