"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
Well, the big weekend is upon us. The world will stop rotating on its axis,
cloning will cease until Monday, George W. is likely going to lay the 4 as a
better bet than war, grown men with a semblance of intelligence are paying
unheard of monies to watch others clad in protective football armament beat one
another up for four hours, and we hope we will not be subjected to a half-time
extravaganza of unintelligible lyrics voiced by people of less talent than the
Osbournes as exhibited of late during half time of the AFC and NFC Championship
|More money will be wagered on the Super Bowl, in one
fashion or the other, than any other sporting event this year.
It is the American spectacle of sport and ABC is shamelessly promoting it as
the most highly anticipated football game of the last century?only because this
one is so young.
The Oakland Raiders against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, as every media outlet
of the civilized world has trumpeted on an hourly basis, the fellows clad in
silver and black have been installed as a four point favorite to walk off with
the title of best football team in the galaxy. Corporate networking began in
San Diego earlier this week and there is more money flowing than one would
encounter at a political fund raiser. Commercial time on television is being
touted at $2.1 million per 30-second spot to reach zillions of people that
will, at the moment the advertisement is displayed, be flushing, looking for
food or pouring a drink. And, the economy continues its downward spiral.
Office pools are the order of the day and they are not the sort that are filled
with water. More money will be wagered on the Super Bowl, in one fashion or
the other, than any other sporting event this year. Gaming is the stimulant
for most who will be watching the game and, yet, the NFL rejects advertising
from Las Vegas as a vacation destination (the number one stopping place in the
nation) because of some distorted and unfounded notion about their having
gaming there and the association with professional football would be negative.
How hypocritical can they be? But, no surprise. The NFL hierarchy are, as
always, kings without clothes. There might be two players in the NFL that have
never been to Nevada or indulged at the tables. Might be. Maybe only one, and
that includes owners as well.
On to the game.
The weather will be great, it will be an Oakland crowd and the officials can be
expected to be at their occasional best, countered by their usual ineptitudes.
Accepted and allowed for.
Over the course of all Super Bowls, with rare exceptions, the winning team has
put up points?thirty plus. Yes, the Patriots won by a mere 20-17 margin and it
was St. Louis over Tennessee, 23-16 before Baltimore opened it up on the
Giants, 34-7, in the second half. But, check the records. Go all the way
back. Do not be sucked in by "defense wins games." Sounds good, does not
The team with the talent to post points wins. Duh! Not the way it sounds.
Oakland has that advantage. Tampa Bay does not. The Bucs have to keep the
Raider offense on the sidelines to win this one and that means running, not
passing. The Raiders are not the Eagles. Most of the journalists with a
penchant for quoting erroneous observations will tell the masses waiting for
their pearls of wisdom that "defense wins games and championships." They, and
many of the purported prognosticators that predict results, will inform us that
Tampa Bay has the best defense in football and belongs among the elite of the
game over the years.
|Jon Gruden answers questions during Super Bowl
XXXVII Media Day. Gruden's coaching abilities made an enormous difference in
Tampa's NFC Championship Game win against Philadelphia. And, he certainly
knows the Raiders.|
It is time to lay all that to rest with a resounding thud as it enters the
Has anyone evaluated comparative schedules and the caliber of quarterbacks and
teams confronted by Oakland and Tampa Bay this season? Let's just look at the
last few games, when teams are in stride, around the final turn, heading to
their respective championship encounters. Tampa Bay killed Atlanta, a one man
team?just made it past Detroit, a disaster walking?lost to Pittsburgh, which
proved it is not exactly a juggernaut?laid out the Bears 15-0, a team that went
into early hibernation, befitting its name?beat a totally disabled San
Francisco club?and then bested an over-rated and poorly coached Philadelphia
Examining the last six games for Oakland, they took apart San Diego, Denver,
Kansas City, New York (Jets) and Tennessee, losing only to Miami in Florida by
a touchdown. Care to compare levels of competition faced and quality of
quarterbacks on the other side of the line?
Jon Gruden made a difference against Philadelphia, an enormous one. And, he
certainly knows the Raiders. He taught them a lot but Bill Callahan has
improved upon that and taught them more.
The Raiders are capable of putting up 350-400 yards passing and rushing in any
game, while the Bucs will be happy with 275-300 when their totals are tallied.
Will the bigger numbers win the game if you can't take it into the end zone or
put the ball between the uprights? Of course not. But, Oakland can.
|Bill Callahan answers questions during Super Bowl
XXXVII Media Day. Callahan, the present head coach at Oakland, is there because
of his relationship with Gruden.|
On that note, it is interesting to see that, of the Raiders' last ten games of
the regular season, nine were under the total number put forth by the folks in
Las Vegas. Looks like their defense might have had something to do with that.
So, defend and score points. It is a dual commitment to excellence, not just
defense alone. With much lower total numbers, Tampa Bay was under the figure
six times and over it four.
Super Bowl XXXVII. The Gruden game. Contrary to what is being said, it is
about him in many respects. He is the link. It is the first time that a head
coach brings a team to this encounter to face a team he not only coached
before, but built. Bill Callahan, the present head coach at Oakland, is there
because of his relationship with Gruden. There is no denying that. Al Davis,
who walks around with subpoenas for the NFL in his coat pocket, refused to let
Gruden out of his contract until Tampa Bay gave up most of the farm, at least
the north forty with a few prize head of cattle thrown in. The departing coach
designed their offense and Callahan took it to the next level. It is the best
in the league.
Rich Gannon, the maestro of the offense, questioned the lyrics and music
written by Gruden last season and is now the league's MVP. The orchestration
The highly anticipated classic match-up just might not be. Defense will not
dominate offense unless it is the Raiders shutting down the Bucs.
Awards are even with Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks walking off with the
league's defensive player of the year trophy. But, he, Ronde Barber, Brian
Kelly, Warren Sapp, John Lynch and the rest of their number-one rated defense
will be tested by Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and Charlie
Garner. Waiting to give Garner a breather are Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett
and Jon Ritchie.
Brad Johnson to Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicius with
Mike Alstott barreling up the middle is just not enough against a defense that
is as good as, if not better than, what the Bucs bring to San Diego. Bill
Romanowski, Rod Woodson, John Parrella, Sam Adams, Charles Woodson, Anthony
Dorsett?what are you missing here?
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will choke on the words but he will have to
congratulate Al Davis when he hands him the Lombardi Trophy after the game.
Both will probably have legal counsel present, just in case.
All those statistics about most things are totally meaningless when all is said
and done, since very few who analyze the game attempt to understand how they
were achieved. They just note the final tally and prattle on from there. They
Oakland. Under. Bucs one TD and two field goals. A mortal lock? You gotta