Few events capture Americana at its' best (and worst, in some cases) like Super Bowl Sunday. Food in mass quantities, booze galore, and production standstill are all regular culprits, but the last few years, the games have been boring, dull, and mundane. With a varied week of story lines ranging from Deer Antler Spray, to the Harbowl (Battle of the Brothers) I was leaning heavily towards expecting a dog of a game. Waking up this morning, it was hard not to crack a smile and get excited thinking about it. Wow, was I rewarded for it.
-I love New Orleans, and I love the fact that they hosted the Super Bowl. It may be my dream destination for either a Super Bowl, or a National Championship, should I ever be that lucky, but blowing a circuit for 34 minutes was a colossal disaster, and had Baltimore not pulled out the win, the city may have taken it in the shorts for it. It still leaves questions to be answered, but at this point it just adds to the lore that was one of the better Super Bowls of my lifetime.
-Colin Kaepernick started 10 games in his NFL career. 10 FREAKING GAMES! He threw a total of one bad pass, and was a straight up assassin every time he left the pocket. Terrell Suggs looked like he personally took it upon himself to deliver blows every time he could on him, and the kid never lost his cool, never lost his composure, never put his team out of contention, outside of the delay of game timeout they had to burn early. While he did struggle with getting plays off somewhat this season, it really is one of those things that will fade with time as he gets more comfortable making reads. I know defenses will break down film in the off-season, and schemes will be devised, but I have to wonder if ten years from now, we don't look back at him and say he's the greatest Quarterback of this generation. I just don't see flaws in his game at all.
-Speaking of flawless, now would be a good time for Joe Flacco to toot his own horn. (I make jokes for a living. My living is gooooood......not) The man played a beautiful game, aided by some terrific plays by wideouts Jacoby Jones and Anquan Boldin, and had the "eyes of a goat" all game long. I don't know if you can call him an elite QB, but when he needed to make plays, he did. What really intrigues me though, is rewind two or three years with me. Fans hate Flacco, Dull Joe, or Succo, or Flucco, whatever they were calling him, and throughout it all, his teammates stood by him. Never did they waver publicly, never did they disband, even though it seemed that would be the best way to go. Cut to Jim Harbaugh and the Niners, all trying to stand up for Alex Smith, then eventually cutting him out of the picture mostly because he was hurt, partly because, truthfully, Colin Kaepernick is a better, more talented QB, and then cut to which team won tonight. It speaks to something about consistency, faith in your teammates, belief in one another, and Deer Antler Spray for torn triceps can do for you. I can't argue that Alex Smith would have won that game, or gotten the Niners to the Super Bowl even, but I think it speaks strongly that you can have different philosophies and still be successful.
-On a personal note, it always seems a bit surreal to see people I know in the NFL. I've been watching Haloti Ngata destroy offensive linemen for 12 years now, three of those from a first person view behind a facemask, and to see someone like him succeed, flourish, and now stand as a Super Bowl champion makes me feel both emotional and elated. He had every chance to make bad choices and to turn into a bad dude, but he did what was right, has always been a good teammate, and his hard work, work ethic, and character (along with a tiny bit of athletic prowess) have paid off in spades. If you don't know his story, I suggest you find it. I'm both lucky and grateful to have played with the guy, and am happy to see him accomplish something that he truly deserves.
-I told people when they asked me for my picks, that I was cheering for the Ravens, but I thought the Niners would win. As I review the game in my head, I can't help but think that this 49ers team was different from the one that ended last season and started this season. There is something to coming in under the radar that I think gives you the edge, and it was noticeable in the way both teams behaved with the media. Ray had his day, but otherwise stayed low profile, passing up on his traditional pregame dance, while you had self-started controversy from Randy Moss and his claim of being the greatest ever, and Chris Culliver's ridiculous remarks taking away from what should have been a mostly distraction-free week. Though blocking and tackling are still the essentials to winning any football game, there are reasons that players talk about humility and hard work and focus with such fierce repetition in interviews. They matter. I don't want to say that the Niners were unfocused, but maybe they weren't as prepared as they should or could have been. This team was so fun and successful the year before because they were hungry, and driven by fundamentals. Fast forward a year, and all the talk and attention may have gone to their heads. Cross that with the Ravens, a team that struggled for a good chunk of the year, was doubted and questioned by outsiders, and watch them come together and unite for the cause. Pretty amazing. It was also the perfect recipe for an entertaining game, right down to the final minute. Really, on Super Bowl Sunday, that's what we all need, is a good recipe.