I’m up early this morning thinking about little more than the Super Bowl. Actually, my thoughts are around two dilemmas: The first being that there’s a full 36 holes of PGA Tour golf with a compelling leader board being played today–and today of all days; second, that I can’t figure out who I’m pulling for in the big game today.
I’m never neutral on the Super Bowl. Either I’ve picked someone, so my pride is on the line, or, more likely, I’ve cozied into the corner of the underdog hoping for an upset.
It’s hard to pick an underdog in this one. It’s a dead heat as far as I can tell. The media feigns at being stymied but most show their hand when they discuss whether Big Ben will be a lock for the Hall of Fame when he wins his third ring. Even Las Vegas is tied in knots.
With the loss of the underdog as a guiding light, I have to default to story line. Again, I come up about even. Both teams are historic NFL giants; both have big hitters with long hair; both play in deep freeze of the north.
I suppose there is a lot to be said for the fact that there is a redemption story with Ben Roethlisberger. He does seem to be somewhat transformed from everything that we should wish our sports heroes are not but know that they are to, at least, a respectable human being. The evidence of this goes beyond the good interviews. It seems that back in the day his behavior extended even to severe diva-like qualities within the locker room–not signing jerseys; not giving teammates the time of day, etc., etc. Now it seems that he is one of the guys. That’s worth something to me and I wish him the best.
The other diva quarterback in this story is Brett Favre and the fact that he’s not playing for the Packers and he’s not playing at all, finally.
I once wished that he would play forever, you know. Much like I wished that John Elway would play forever. Of course, Elway got to go out on top with back-to-back Super Bowl victories which fueled a hunger to see more. I suppose with someone like Favre, there’s a certain fascination to seeing if it can be done. Like Tom Watson last year at the British Open. O, how I wanted him to win. Favre wore me out though. And I realize now that he had me worn out back when he was still wearing Packers green. It’s like he started talking about retirement when he was twelve. He would take us on a ride every season. The Packers looked like heels when they let him go but now they appear the wiser as a young Aaron Rogers looks to have all of the potential of any quarterback in the league. So I’m thrilled for Green Bay that they’ve been able to evolve in such a way.
Then there’s Clay Matthews. This is the truly inspiring story for me–A skinny kid well under 200 pounds in high school with a determined dream to play linebacker in the NFL. Without a scholarship, promise to play or even a promise to make the team, he walks on at USC of all places. Suffice to say that he made the team and he made it to the NFL and is dominating the league in only his second season. I can’t tell you how much I love this story. It has hard work, determination and that intangible element of “I dare you to tell me I’m not going to make it.”
So I’ve processed publicly. And even as I say it, I’m not completely comfortable in doing so, I think I’m leaning Packers just a little. That’s not a pick either; it’s a pull. If I’m picking, it would probably be the Steelers, but by an equally uncomfortable lean.
And how am I celebrating the Super Bowl? I’m going to sit quietly in my chair, in my own family room, hopefully, with Paige Mercer sitting beside me for a chunk of the game.