Tuesday, March 13, 2007 SUPER BOWL FORTY-ONE: IN HINDSIGHT I had a couple post-mortem Super Bowl thoughts scribbled down here for awhile. I had intended on one last football-related blog whether the Bears won or not. Hard to believe it's been over a month since the 29-17 Bears' loss in the Super Bowl. I figured it was time to assemble these thoughts into a blog. I probably would have procrastinated even further, but I have other blogs that need to go on, so I figured I should post this first.
I had predicted the Hester runback before the game, but the fact that it happened in the very first seconds was magical indeed. In hindsight it reminds me so much of the Kerry Wood 3-run HR to tie game 7 against the Marlins in the 2003 NLCS. That Wood HR was inconceivable, but yet still probably in the back of a Cub fans' minds at the time. However, it would just be too good to be true. After it actually happened, it seemed to have all the makings of a sure momentum-seizing play. But as I said, in hindsight—both would now have to be considered as simply two of the most exciting Chicago sports plays in losing efforts.
Still, if one were to map out a plan for the Bears to win that game, he could probably identify three blatant factors: 1). Hester needs to score against that coverage team. 2). If you get close to the end zone early, let Rex throw for a TD to get that confidence up right away. And 3). See if you can't get Manning to revert back to his choking ways.
Well sure enough, Hester runs the kickoff back, Grossman connects on a first quarter TD pass to Muhammed, and Manning looked awful on the Colts' first drive (should have been picked off twice—eventually was picked off by Chris Harris to end that initial drive). So it was all set up. If the Colts are still going to win after those three things fall in line, my hat's off. The Bears came out and made the Colts look downright silly and still never had a chance. I can live with that.
I feel sorry for people who let their actual moods be affected by sporting events. I've said before how much I enjoy listening to Boers and Bernstein on The Score. I like them because they're sports fans without caring about sports. They know so much about Chicago sports, but they're above the fray. They maintain an aura of being informed without being involved. It's really quite amazing. There's a sense of arrogance that goes along with that, but I also think they lend the most level-headed, common sense, non-ridiculous take on sports day in and day out.
And the Monday after Super Bowl XLI was no exception. They cut bummed-out callers NO slack. And it was hilarious and actually uplifting. They brought such a sense of perspective to the whole situation that was refreshing and much-needed. After several depressed callers, Boers preached: "Sports is just that…it's a diversion. It wasn't created to be your identity. I just don't get it..."
It was the SUPER BOWL. They reiterated this point over and over. They didn't choke in an early round home playoff game. They made the stinking Super Bowl. Once you're there, anything can happen. It's fifty-fifty at best. Bask in the two weeks of glory and go out and play your best. Bernstein also said that once the Bears fell down 16-14, he knew the game was over. And he got over it by 9:05. That night.
The whole thing was terrible though. The pregame was horrible. The omnipresent commercials for Norbitt were unbearable. CBS' presentation of the actual game was brutal. The weather was awful. The commercials were bad. The turnover-fest was embarrassing. The Benson injury was unpleasant at best. Nothing about it felt like a big time broadcast. Or a Super Bowl for that matter. It looked bad aesthetically-speaking. When Dan Bernstein was talking about how quickly he got over the loss, he summed it up this way: "The Super Bowl, it was…it was wet and it was bad and it was hurt and it looked they covered the camera lens with Vaseline…"
Someone asked me after the Bears advanced to the Super Bowl if that day (when the Bears became NFC champions by beating New Orleans handily) was the greatest day of my life. Perhaps said person was speaking in hyperbole, but the question got me thinking nonetheless. Not only have the Bears made the Super Bowl before in my lifetime (and won it by the way…), but that question in and of itself is painfully absurd. I think anyone who's greatest day of their life has anything remotely to do with sports can blame their parents for doing them a giant disservice. You talk about lack of perspective.
Although I think what hit me the most about the Bears losing the Super Bowl is how much more poignant winning is than losing. And believe me; my teams have done a whole lot more losing than winning. But in terms of big games…winning gives you a chance to bask. To be surreal for a little while. Losing gives you a chance to show maturity and see to it that you don't let it affect you. A chance to pull back and realize what's actually important. And certainly to make sure it doesn't affect those around you. And that's the way it should be. The elation of winning is certainly more powerful than the pain of losing a big one.
And so…while the Bears may not have put up the best fight, I'm still glad the Colts had to earn the ring by playing the best. There's something always a little rewarding when the clear cut top teams from each conference actually make it to the Super Bowl. That's what you want ultimately for your championship in any sport. It's good for history to be able to look back at that game and/or series as the most accurate representation of that specific season. When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, it all seemed fake and insignificant because it came against the stinking AstrosThis year the Bears were clearly the best NFC team from start to finish, and the same could be said for the most part for the Colts. While the Bears may not have looked the part, if I were a Colts' fan celebrating my first living championship, there would be a certain degree of satisfaction knowing that I had to beat the Bears to get it.
Needless to say I've taken a lot of heat from Colts' fans in the last couple months. But believe it or not, I didn't lose all respect for all Colts' fans (like the kind who actually started wearing their Colts' gear BEFORE January. And like I've said before, being a lifelong fan of the Bulls (and of the 2003 Cubs for that matter), I know all about that.
In the end I think the saddest part is that the Bears never made the Colts beat them. The Colts probably could have beaten them, but we didn't even bother to find out. I was appalled at the way the media fell all over themselves trying to default the Super Bowl trophy to Manning. The main different between Manning's performance and Grossman's were key conversions by Manning on third down. And don't get me wrong, those were huge and probably the difference in the game, but Manning was in no way the Colts' most valuable player on February 5th.
I bought a couple Colts/Bears Super Bowl shirts to commemorate my dream Super Bowl coming true. The result was pathetic, but I'm sure I'll look back on that day someday with fondness. In the meantime, the following images are how I choose to remember Super Bowl XLI: