A Super Dud

The NFL may have spent millions advertising the Super Bowl’s 50th year, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a letdown.  Like sitting down to breakfast and having to choose between Frosted Flakes or Wheaties, neither team appealed much to me.

On one side was the big story of Peyton “HGH you feel so good ” Manning and the Denver Broncos who had made their way through the AFC by dethroning the evil empire of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.  No one had expected Manning to hold up through the season much less to make it this far so it was no surprise when it was reported that Manning allegedly told Pats’ coach Bill Belichick this was his “last rodeo.”  

On the other side Cam Newton prepared to dance all over the Broncos after skewering the NFC and winning the NFL MVP award.  Newton made headlines this year for his superman dances and Dab celebrations all while leading the team to 1st place seed in the NFC.  His dancing was the talk of the media and he was forced to defend it nearly every time he was interviewed after a game.

Unlike years past I did not have a Hokie I was rooting for in the game so I felt no connection whatsoever to any team.  Maybe that’s why on multiple occasions I had to hold myself back from getting up.  That may be why I had to tell myself that something will happen to make it exciting.  That’s why I simply couldn’t feel like this game was the embodiment of 50 years of the Super Bowl.  If nothing else it reminded me of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when Veruca wants a golden goose.  When she lands on the egg scale and it quickly displays that Veruca is indeed a bad egg, Super Bowl 50 would follow her down the chute to the incinerator.  

I think of all the great players who have come and gone and can only feel embarrassed for such a showing on a world stage.  A truly epic collapse for one team and large fight back for another.  Hopefully with all the money the NFL raked in from advertising and merchandising they can work on the game for next year.  If it keeps up this way it will just be a set of geese laying bad eggs and Wonka will have to keep pulling them out of the incenerator.

Silly Season (or How I Learned to Love Pete Carroll)

The off-season in sports is often referred to as the silly season.  I’m not sure that I like the name of that.  I get where it’s coming from, there’s so much speculation and people are watching the trades and the signings and hoping that their team is going to sign this guy and that guy.  I think I can see through the silliness sometimes.  The championship isn’t always won in the off-season, is it?  Rome wasn’t built in a day much less three months.  Although I do like to think it burned in a day.  Nero stood over in the corner and fiddled while it burned.  Some general managers of teams stand over in the corner and fiddle while franchises go up in smoke.

I don’t seem to recall last year’s NFL off-season.  Maybe I was disenchanted.  Maybe I had other things on my mind.  I just can’t seem to place myself in it.  It doesn’t seem to have hit me like this years’.  Who would have seen the Seahawks blowing up their offensive line to get a guy like Jimmy Graham?  Or Chip Kelly going out and getting Sam Bradford?  I thought for sure he was going to go get his old QB(not that I’m not convinced he isn’t still going out for him).  The Bills getting him to trade Shady McCoy to them for Kelly’s old LB Kiko?  Where the hell did that come from?  Talk about watching Rome burn.  So in the span of a week, you’ve dumped your old QB, RB, watched WRs and OLs walk in free agency.  Nero would be exceptionally proud.  It’s no longer Lincoln Financial Field folks, it’s the Roman Coliseum and they are going to start handing out togas and drink wine out of chalices.  Mongols are heading for Philly.  Changes are afoot in Philly.

But they always say you can’t win the championship in the off-season, it’s more about what you do in the regular season.  I just have to wonder about some of the deals though.  The free agent signings, the draft coming up; can you really expect to draft and trade and sign to find yourself in a prime position?  I would have to think that maybe you’d have to have a strong base to begin with.

Let’s take Seattle.  I do have to think the Jimmy Graham trade is a head-scratcher for me.  Look, they were a play call away from a 2nd straight Super Bowl title.  Now you take Russell Wilson’s protective blanket in Max Unger and ship him and your first round draft pick to New Orleans for a tight end.  Granted the tight end can line up in the slot, out wide or on the line, he’s big and strong and causes match-up problems, but he had issues with his shoulder last year.  Yes he played through it, but if he gets hurt, they are now worried about a center position AND a tight end position.  Whereas they already had the center position locked up.  Plus they had that first round pick.  I know the Seahawks are great at finding gems in the draft.  I’m a huge Pete Carroll fan.  I love his mentality.  The way he coaches up guys, the team first, playing up to potential and being able to step up and compete.  That’s what it’s about, you don’t play the other guys as much you do yourself, finding a way to compete and win by beating that nagging feeling inside yourself that says you can’t do it.  They’ve built this strong defense by finding this guys that other people have cast off as not being able to play.  Sherman, Chancellor, Wagner among others.  It’s this mentality that “I can bring in guys to play in my system, I’ll get them to play to the best of their ability by convincing them to be positive, knowing they can do it and not letting anyone tell them they can’t.”

At this level it’s all about finding that edge.  Carroll seems to have found that edge.  His book is excellent at explaining it.  It makes you want to play for him because you know at some point you are going to do something wrong, but he’s not going to run over there and just yell at you about it, he’s going to yell at you because he knows you are better than that.  He’s going to tell you that because you are better than that, you are going to go out there next time and kick someone’s butt.  He expects a lot out of you, but at the same time, he rewards you.  You can see it in the culture, you see it in the way the guys play.  The way they rally around one another.  Watch the NFC Championship game where Kam Chancellor is mic’d up.  You’ll see how he never gives up.  It’s an underlying theme Carroll’s philosophy.  Don’t quit on me now.  Did you happen to catch the NBC interview with him and Matt Lauer?  That man is positivity to a T.  Only once did he let that play call get to him.  Meanwhile on Twitter he’s being called “world’s worst coach” or it’s the “worst play call ever.”  But the team sticks together.  He calls them family because he believes in it.  It’s not just words.  It’s a way of life.  The amazing thing about this is that he doesn’t go out on the first day of free agency and sign this guy and that guy.  He builds relationships and makes people better.  He’s made a philosophy.  He wants to make you better through it.  Whatever you want to do in football you do it through competing.  Never stop competing.  Why would you ever stop competing?  Every day compete.  Get better every day.  That’s what he’s about.  Don’t look back on yesterday you can’t change it.  Build up yourself and get back on the field.  That’s what I’ve learned about Pete Carroll.

Silly Season?  Well it seems like to me Silly Season is any season without Pete Carroll in it.  These guys running around signing anyone and everyone are just filling rosters like a video game.  That’s not a philosophy, it’s filling rosters.  You don’t know what you are going to get until you get on the field.  But when you sit down with your players and learn about them take away the barriers and edges and make it priority to build a roster with guys that want to play together not just for the money well that’s a winner.  Nero burned down Rome in a day and by the look of it, some people in the NFL are trying to do it, meanwhile, some people are doing their best to build something to stand up long past the embers have gone out.

A Month and a Half of My Sports Year

I was sorta hopeful when the year began that college football would be the start of a great sports month. Alabama had a chance to lead the SEC’s flag through the first of what could be a potentially great college football playoff. No more would we be talking about the BCS and its questionable past championship games. To be honest, I’m not exactly an Alabama fan, Virginia Tech is my team however I am of the opinion that the SouthEastern Conference is the best in the country. I do have some history with the SEC, I spent some time in the South and attended some games so I know of what I’m talking about. However Alabama let me down and Oregon proved that they weren’t “Mighty” Ducks. So the only thing I could say about the college football season is at least VT beat LOLUVA, won their bowl game and gave the eventual national champion their only loss. It’s the moral victories I guess?

Then there’s the next best thing and I’d like to think the Seattle Seahawks with Kam Chancellor were going to run the table all the way to the end. I’m a huge fan of VT players in the pros, most notably Kam and Tyrod Taylor. I grew up a Buffalo Bills fan but over the years I’ve found myself rooting for Hokies in the pros because of the connection with college. Watching these guys win over the years has been great considering where the football program in the western part of Virginia has come from. But I know as you are reading this you are going to start thinking about the Super Bowl and that play. I know, i know, you are going to say, “why pass when you are on the 1 yard line when you have Marshawn Lynch ?” The thing is that the other guy made a great play, like he knew it was coming, almost like he jumped the route. Second, had the play worked no one would be talking about it. Will this be Pete Carroll’s legacy? Why? Because he got two Super Bowls and won one? Hmm. As a Bills fan I can tell you Marv Levy lost four Super Bowls in a row but he is in the Hall of fame. It had a damn good shot at scoring. The thing about Pete Carroll is he is positive and upbeat and after the play he moved on. It was over. He did a great interview with Matt Lauer the week after the Super Bowl and he said he only let himself think about the play once. I would recommend reading his book, Win Forever: Live, Work and Play Like a Champion. You’ll understand how the Seahawks got where they are and how they’ll stay where they are as long as Coach Carroll is around. It’s very impressive and his words can be used in daily life. So you heard me say I was a Bills fan, well, Rex Ryan is my least favorite coach ever and with that being said, the Bills went and hired him. Then he went and said they were going to be “bullies” and sought out a known bully and signed him. It’s pretty much all I can take. I’ve stuck with Buffalo my whole life but I don’t know if I can do it. Losing with dignity is one thing but signing bullies and being bullies is not me. Good luck Buffalo. Call me when Rex is gone.

As for you Coach Carroll, I’d work for you any day, give me a call. I read your book and I read about your inspiration derived from the late Coach Walsh and it got me to pick up one of his books. I can see where you could be inspired and I am glad I picked it up. Thank you for showing me that football can be more than just the game even though I took sports psychology and I have seen that. I’m glad there’s a coach out there that has won by caring about his players, his staff and the entire organization. Yeah so you can sign a coach who is an ass and push people around, great but what does that say about your organization? It says more about you if you are willing to stick by your coach that cares about the team top to bottom that lost a Super Bowl that pundits called for his head and you didn’t budge. Bravo Paul Allen and Bravo 12s for sticking in there!