03 February 2011

Super Slugfest, Super Bowl Style

Can Clay Matthews stop the Steelers?
In every sport there are those teams that everyone dreads to play, they know are the more physical teams, the more prepared, the most seasoned, or the most versatile team.  This year, the NFL is bringing two of these titans to the table for the Super Bowl.  In what could shape up to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent years, there will be two teams taking the field that are both very strong on offense, but both are defense orientated teams.  Pittsburgh brings in an “old school” style defense that will hit you, hit you, and hit you again.  Right when you think the hits are going to stop, you get hit again.  Their defense is known around the league for how hard they hit, how they hit, and the ferociousness of their hits.  Green Bay brings in the “working man’s” defense, led behind last year’s NFL defensive player of the year, Charles Woodson, the Packers are no slack on defense either.  All-Pro Clay Matthews is one of the league’s best at stopping the ball, whether it’s a runner, receiver, or the quarterback.

Will the Steelers add number 7?
Pittsburgh is not in unfamiliar waters with the Super Bowl, having won 2 in the last six years already, and having several guys who are going for their third ring together.  This is the same team that before the season started were told they couldn’t win without Ben Roethlisberger, and went on to prove critics wrong.  With a season filled of news surrounding James Harrison and his bone rattling hits, the Steelers have managed to run through the playoffs enroute to a date with the Packers.

The Packers come in as the team with no experience, nothing to pull from other than history, and yet, no one is doubting their right to be there.  Green Bay comes in, being led by a gunslinging quarterback who silences every team in his way- no, it’s not Brett Favre, it’s Aaron Rodgers.  Displaying his borrowed signature championship belt move, Rodgers is firing on all cylinders as he leads the Packers in to Dallas for their date with history.

Green Bay once had cheerleaders

Things you won’t see in this game…. Jerome Bettis busting through the line or Brett Favre running down the field with his finger held high.  You also will not see any cheerleaders on the sidelines, as these two teams neither have cheerleaders, giving us the first Super Bowl in the 45 year history to put two teams without cheerleaders on the field.
The long forgotten Steelerettes


The Packers need to get to Big Ben
For Green Bay to be successful on defense, they will have to keep Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket and not let him get out and run.  The Steelers are going to look to find Mike Wallace deep down field, so the Packers will have to be able to match up one on one with their defense keeping guys like AJ Hawk and Matthews free to spying on the Big Ben.  On offense, Rodgers has been deadly lately, connecting on almost every pass he throws, and keeping them in places where only his guys can catch them.  Rodgers can beat you with his legs too, if you let him.  Look for him to get out and run when needed, and watch for his pin point passing has he drops passes in places where the defense can’t get them.  Don’t expect to Rodgers force many passes, instead he’ll find the open man, or he’ll throw it away.

Can Ben join the list of QBs to win 3 Super Bowls?
On Pittsburgh’s side of the ball, watch for Roethlisberger to use the running game from Mendenhall to set up passes down the field.  Big Ben will scramble as needed to help get free, which is when he is at his best.  Green Bay will bring different looks to try and force him to make mistakes, but Roethlisberger is poised in the pocket and will be patient.  On defense, watch for the Steelers to mix up their calls and show disguises to Rodgers since he’s one of the best at picking up defenses on the line.  Watch for Harrison to get lose and unload on Rodgers in the backfield if he’s not blocked at all times, and if Rodgers doesn’t pick him up at the line on every play.

The game will come down to the play of the quarterbacks and their ability to read the defenses.  Roethlisberger has been saved a few games this season by his defense, but in this game, that won’t be enough.  Watch for a slug fest out the gate, as each team battles for field position before they punt.  It will be a low scoring first half of football, which will favor the Steelers going in to the second half.  In the third quarters Aaron Rodgers will take the game by the reigns and settle in to a groove, leading the Packers in to the lead and win.
Aaron Rodgers has been flying high as of late,
watch for him to continue in the Super Bowl.

Green Bay           24
Pittsburgh            20

01 February 2011

Remember Where You Came From

I work a job that isn’t dependent upon anyone knowing my name, asking for my signature for anything other than my mail pick up, and there’s never hoards of people waiting for me to walk out of the building to mob me for pictures, autographs, or anything I own.  Yet, I wake up and walk to the shower like so many other famous people do- with one foot in front of the other, with arms over my head as I yawn and groan the whole way.  I put my socks on, pants on, and even my shirt, just like they do, they don’t have some magical power to do it with.  My paycheck is dependent upon the work I do, the performance in which I do my job with, and the knowledge I have for my field.  Have you ever heard of me? No.  Probably not, unless we’re friends.

So, how is it different for a professional athlete then?  Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Kevin Garnett, and so many others make their living off of us.  If you think these guys get paid to play a sport because they are good at the sport, that’s wrong.  These guys get paid because they put butts in seats, sell merchandise, tickets, and memorabilia.  Oh yeah, they are good at their sports too- but it takes a lot more than just being good at your sport to get paid.  If we, as fans, boycotted the NFL, NBA, MLB, or any other professional sport, for an entire season, said we aren’t going to watch it, attend it, or buy anything to do with it, what would happen?  Imagine the fall out when Peyton Manning takes the field in Indianapolis, not a person in the stands, no tickets sold.  Imagine SportsCenter airing the highlights to a viewing audience of 12.  Quickly, the NFL would go from a billion dollar industry to the XFL- a lost sport that no one cares about anymore.

So, if I were to tell you, that I would pay you $10,000,000/year to entertain the crowd, get the fans hyped up, and all you had to do was play a sport for me to watch- would you do it?  Honestly, it’s that simple- yet we so many athletes who forget this, and they bite the hands that feed them.  Barry Bonds would told kids he wouldn’t sign autographs for them because he wasn’t sure if they were going to keep it, or sale it.  He said it wasn’t right for them to make money on his signature.  Excuse me?  So what a 12 year old little boy wants to make $50 on your name? You make $500,000 per game- what is $50 to you?  What about Albert Belle, he told people he wouldn’t sign autographs in Baltimore as a member of the Orioles, unless he was booked for a show and got paid to do so.  Umm, excuse me pompous, you do get paid!  LOOK AT YOUR BANK ACCOUNT FOOL.  Are you flippin’ kidding me? 

Most recently, Kevin Garnett, of the Boston Celtics, a member of a storied franchise, rich in tradition, history, and heritage, mouthed off to a ball-boy in Los Angeles when asked for his autograph.

            “You’ve got a better chance of catching Bin Laden”

Seriously? KG, after the life you’ve lived, the years you spent in Minnesota, wishing you could be on a winning team, a team that meant something, and now here you are, standing toe to toe with a fan, in a rival city, asking for your autograph, and you’re going to act like this?  This makes me sad to even say I’m a Celtics fan.  How fast they forget as athletes, living the gravy train life, that their so-called life could end to exist in the way they know it, if we as fans stopped cheering, stopped buying their jerseys, chanting their names, or anything else.  Maybe they should be asking for our autographs, thanking us for what we do- we make them who they are, we pay their salaries, and we provide the lifestyles they have become accustomed to.  Why not stop for 30 minutes, and sign a few autographs for the people who gave you this lifestyle.  All they are asking for is your signature, the same name you’ve signed your whole life.  No one is asking you to play a pickup game after, no one is asking you to come down to the local Y and school some punks, and no one is asking you over for family dinner on Sunday- they are simply asking for 20 seconds of your time to sign your name, most of them having spent hours of their time to get in line, buy a ticket to see you, spend the money on the ball they want signed, and wait anxiously for that moment to see you- so don’t be a jerk.

It was reported, that as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan would be seen for hours on end in malls around Chicago signing autographs for fans as they passed by.  He wasn't paid to do it, he did it to repay them for their support.  He had SIX NBA CHAMPIONSHIPS, ONE GOLD MEDAL FROM THE OLYMPICS, an NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, and his NBA Jersey retired in 3 cities, only one of which he played for.  I don't see anyone retiring Kevin Garnett's jersey, let alone teams he never played for.  Players could stand to learn from Jordan, he's still teaching today how to be a better player.