"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. (Sports Network) --
Gotchya! Is there a person among you that will not come up with Budweiser? Probably not. And it is not because they were promoted during the game or not. It is just because that is the reasonable thing to do. They are everywhere in sports...on billboards, TV commercial breaks, at the sports bars, trucks passing you on the turnpike(s) and heard during your favorite sports talk show.
Now we are being prepared for another onslaught of $2.6 million commercials that are going to segue into an additional episode of a program that gets its audience from the same farm in upstate New York that grows brain dead viewers for Wheel of Fortune, Survivor. I guess that is the price one has to pay to show their wares during a time frame when 90% of us are using the bathroom, getting another brew or cup of coffee, picking up some hors d'oeuvres to gulp down until the next break or just planning what to do during half time or at the end of the game, win or lose.
Which brings us to the question of the day, of the weekend, of the season. Who is going to win, or lose, this game, that annual rites of resistance, the NFL's version of Armageddon, the tempest in Tampa Bay, battle of the bulge (Tony Siragusa vs. Glenn Parker), foray in Florida, Baltimore blitz and Giant joust? The most watched television occurrence on the planet. The closest thing we have to Roman gladiators determined to annihilate one another whether there are thumbs up or thumbs down in the grandstands.
The Baltimore Ravens' defense led by #79 Larry Webster and #98 Tony Siragusa stops Tennessee's Eddie George during the AFC Playoff game at Adelphia Coliseum. (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)
Trent Dilfer is the catalyst of the Ravens' offense, which is akin to adding water to a glass of water. It is a meaningless gesture that will do only one thing...put his name in the NFL annals as a starting quarterback in Super Bowl XXXV. He returns to Tampa Bay where the only item missing from his farewell party after six years there was tar and feathers among his memories. Now he waits for his defense to create a scoring opportunity or, better yet, to accomplish that themselves. He is not there to put points up on the board, just to run the clock a bit until Ray Lewis and his gang, a term used more appropriately than one can imagine, get out on the field.
Shannon Sharpe, he of the mouth that runs off more than Victoria Falls, thinks that Dilfer might be the second coming of Joe Montana. Not. Nor is Ray Lewis ready to assume the same pedestal as Lawrence Taylor...or even Sam Huff for those with longer memories. And, the Ravens' defense is good but they are not the Steel Curtain. Also, Lewis would like everyone to forget that night of last year's Super Bowl when he and several other people raced away in a limo leaving two men to bleed to death outside a club. The Baltimore head coach, Brian Billick, is as arrogant as they come. He is a hypocrite of the highest order, self righteous, falsely pious and devoid of reason when it comes to his players. He knows what we should all do to lead the life he would like to see but seems to imply, at every opportunity, that he knows more than everyone seeking answers to questions.
The NFL image, despite the Super Bowl, is tarnished with Ray Lewis, Rae Carruth, the murder of Fred Lane, the accusations against Mark Chmura and enough players coast to coast to make up the cast of "Oz."
Head Coach Jim Fassel of the New York Giants upheld his guarantee to lead the G-men into the playoffs. (Jamie Squire /Allsport
But, back to the game.
Who have these teams played and what performances lay in the wake that is the justification for their being in Tampa? The Ravens beat Pittsburgh, a team whose glory is in old NFL films and which has become an also-ran. They actually lost to them in the 9th game of the season, 6-9. Before that, they saw Jacksonville put 36 points up on the scoreboard (albeit the Ravens scored 39 of their own in an uncharacteristic offensive display), lost to Miami, 19-6, to a Redskins team with unfulfilled promise, 10-3, Tennessee the first time, 14-6, and beat up on the ineptitudes, incompetence and unworthiness of such teams as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, San Diego, Arizona.
If you were able to see some of the better games, before and after the Steelers win of October 29th, then you realize that the Jets were taking Baltimore apart before Testaverde decided to fall apart like some giant jigsaw puzzle your grandchild just knocked off the table. New York could have blown them away had he kept his act and team together. Win for Billick's Boys. Denver never showed up on New Year's Eve and mailed it in. Not good. Baltimore did not have as much to do with the win as the Broncos did with just not playing.
At the Tennessee game, Steve McNair thought that the object of his role was to throw the ball into and through the turf and not into the hands of his receivers...and they still should have eked out the win. How can I say that with a 24-10 final? They fell apart.
Tony Siragusa decided that Rich Gannon was his personal pillow and he could pound it as long as he wanted until it felt comfortable with a league too much of a wuss to toss him out of the game. Instead, it was Gannon that was out, unable to continue. Couple that with a Shannon Sharpe run that was supposed to be 10 yards and turned into 96 - almost the length of the field - and you have a 16-3 score that was really 6-3 and might have been 10-6 the other way if Gannon had stayed in for that final drive or, at the very worst, taken the game into overtime.
What about the G-Men? Same teams, similar results with losses to Tennessee, St. Louis, Detroit (?!?!?) and Washington early in the season. With some exceptions, as is the case with Baltimore, no one was really running up long distance numbers on New York. Besides, the Giants have a defense as good as that of the Ravens. I see you smiling. So were the Eagles and Vikings with quarterbacks and receivers that not many were able to contain before the Giants corralled them.
And New York can put points up on the board. That is their advantage. They can run, have a quarterback that believes in himself and his team and receivers capable of grabbing the short pass or breaking the long one.
Yes, Baltimore has Marvin Lewis on the sidelines but New York has John Fox and Sean Payton.
Great defensive battle in the offing? Maybe. Baltimore able to run up the score? Not likely. Giants capable of scoring? Absolutely. Someone from New York going to Disney? Yes.
Am I going to take the Giants and love the 3? You gotta be kidding!