Think about it. A few years from now, what will we remember the most from the 2014/15 season? Maybe the question should rather be, What won’t we remember?
Odell Beckham’s incredible grab on Monday Night Football?
Aaron Rodgers’ MVP season?
Peyton Manning making history once again?
Or even J.J. Watt’s MVP-caliber season?
The Seahawks historic comeback? (Please, let’s completely forget about this)
Dez Bryant not catching a ball he actually caught?
Nope none of them. These were some of the biggest FOOTBALL moments of this season. The world’s most talented athletes doing what they do best, the reason millions upon millions tune in every Thursday, Sunday, Monday and the reason they will all tune in again, regardless if their team is playing this Sunday or not.
Instead, we will probably remember this year as the year the NFL took one of the most vicious image hits in professional sports history, think the MLB steroid era, which took baseball a decade to recover from. Even so, the majority of it was baseball related. The NFL’s series of troubles are both on and off the field.
Concussions and the “Will you let your son play football?” discussion will never go away unless they radically overhaul the game, which they won’t. Then there is the drug problem, or the “Substance Abuse Policy” where 37 players violated the policy in 2014 for a whopping 169 games and 2 players( TE Fred Davis, SS Tanard Jackson of the Redskins) were suspended indefinitely. Earlier this week we also found out that Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon failed another drug test, suspending him for all of 2015.
And I haven’t even reached the disasters of all PR disasters, a topic that was thrown to the bottom line of ‘SportCenter’ too many times in the past, never was paid enough attention to until TMZ released the Ray Rice video, effectively ending NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s credibility for as long as he is in charge. The video showing Rice carrying his girlfriend out of an elevator in Atlantic City last March sent shock waves across the country, not just the sports community. Goodell and the NFL did next to nothing about it (He slapped Rice on the wrist with a 2-game suspension) until they were getting grilled by every analyst on ESPN, CNN, NBC and every other major network sports and non-sports, it became a national debate that always ended with blaming Goodell.
Sadly, it would only prove to be the beginning. Arguably the best Running Back in the league, Adrian Peterson, would be brought to national attention not for breaking tackles and running over linebackers, but over Child Abuse. This USA Today article explains the entire situation:
The nightmare didn’t end, as Carolina Panthers Defensive tackle Greg Hardy and San Francisco Defensive end Roy McDonald would follow suit and were charged with Domestic Violence over hitting their fiancée and girlfriend respectively. All of this, you might remember, took place in the beginning months of the season, normally overshadowing the games that were being played during the scandals and investigations surrounding Goodell, Rice and Peterson.
All the more fitting, the biggest story heading into the Super Bowl, isn’t the game itself (which I will eventually get to) but another investigation, this time on the Patriots and #deflategate. Already known for their shenanigans during the Brady and Belicheck era (i.e. “SpyGate” when the Patriots were caught filming St. Louis Rams Super Bowl practices 14 years ago) allegedly deflated their balls to gain a competitive advantage during a complete undressing of the Colts in the AFC Championship game, winning 45-7.
Pats QB Tom Brady has become the default culprit of an investigation that seems to be more of a joke on Twitter than an actual investigation that people are waiting for some sort of outcome from:
Even if the Patriots did in fact cheat, I don’t think the result would have changed that much. Why? Because New England Running Back LeGarrette Blount ran for 148 yards and 3 Touchdowns in the victory and was easily the biggest factory (along with Patriots D’) in the outcome. I don’t care if he was running with a beach ball, it simply did not matter. You know who agrees with me?
THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.
It’s one thing to cheat and win in a close game on a stage like the AFC Championship Game, it’s another to completely blowout a team, and that team could care less about whether the other team cheated, because they were surgically picked apart in every facet that badly.
Still, #deflategate rages on like a California wild-fire, and looks like it won’t be stopping anytime soon, as it was reported on Monday that a ball boy is now a lead suspect for deflating the balls. A BALL BOY FOR GOODNESS SAKE! The poor kid thought he had the coolest job in the world tossing Tom Brady a ball whenever he needed one on the sideline or in a game, is now about to turn into the evil enemy of one of the most ridiculous investigations in NFL history. It’s pathetic. If they did in fact cheat, take a 3rd or 4th round pick away and let’s move onto this one thing that we call, oh I don’t know, the SUPER BOWL.
And maybe that is what bothers me most of all about all the controversy in general. This Super Bowl is as intriguing of a match-up as ever. Sure last season the Seahawks D’ went up against a record-breaking offensive machine in the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, and in the end were subject to all-out massacre and the most interesting thing coming out of that game was the halftime show performance from Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers, an odd combination that surprisingly jelled into a helluva set.
But looking back on it, I feel like we should have known. By now we know that Peyton Manning, one of the all-time greats hands down, no questions asked, has the occasional meltdown in the play-offs where he can’t throw a spiral to save his life, let alone evade the avalanche of pressure the ‘Hawks D-line put on him a year ago in New York.
That’s what makes this year’s Super Bowl all the more compelling. Can the Seahawks D’ do it again? Can the “Legion of Boom” handle Gronk and his cast of little white wide receivers that you can’t stop rooting for? Can they shut down Tom Brady like they did Peyton Manning, in two consecutive years, proving that this defense is one of the all-time greats by defeating two of the Top-10 Quarterbacks in NFL history in succession on the biggest stage?
However, it’s not like Brady and Belicheck are choke artists. This will be their 6th Super Bowl together and if it weren’t for David Tryee and Mario Manningham two incredible grabs that fueled both Eli Manning last-minute comebacks in their last two Super Bowls, The Patriots would be looking at their 6th Super Bowl victory Sunday in the last 15 years.
Instead, they’ll be going for four in the same amount of time, and a victory would put Brady second only to Ray Lewis for longest amount of time between championships (Lewis was 12 years, Brady would be 11.) There is a lot more on the line than people think on Sunday, but please, let’s here more about Deflate Gate, shall we?
Brady and the Pats offense versus Seattle’s defense is the obvious match-up to key in on, but don’t over look the importance of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s offense up against the Pats D’. Wilson for 3 and 3/4th quarters looked abysmal against a decent Green Bay defense and secondary, Sunday he is facing former Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner and the one man show known only as “Revis Island” ( seriously, what is with corners and their need to have nicknames for everything they do?) as the Pats defense is no joke either, with a top ten (8th) defensive mark overall.
Ultimately, this game is coming down to which QB can have more success against the other’s defense. I normally don’t bet against the Seahawks and their defense (last year I picked them vs. the Broncos solely on their defense of play) I enjoy watching the way Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas play, trash talk and all, even if they ripped my heart out two weeks ago in the NFC Championship Game, I still like them. They’re becoming the NFL equivalent of the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons, they’re gaining that much animosity around the league.
But man, after the way the Patriots played to begin the year, that the fans wanted Brady gone at one point after the Monday Night game against the Chiefs, they’re wild back-and-forth game against the Ravens, a team they’ve had documented struggles with in the playoffs, to still have a shot at another Super Bowl in the Brady and Belicheck era, they won’t let a crazy catch, immovable defense or even Deflate Gate stop them this time.
Patriots 24, Seahawks 21.
And one last note on the NFL for a while.
Dear NFL, you messed up big time this year. Your leadership was poor, I won’t mention any names, you let things get out of control and you made complete fools of yourself this season. Good news is you generated in the ballpark of $9 Billion in revenue this season (according to USA Today) but took a big enough credibility hit you would have probably been featured on one of those old NFL Countdown segments “Jacked Up!” You’re one of the most popular sports worldwide and most certainly in the U.S. still.
But the next time you think you’re too big to fail, think of this season and realize, sometimes Sunday’s can’t cure everything.