Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Back from among the missing, all for the wonderful Super Bowl week

I figure I should write something before I start showing up on the side of milk cartons. No, I haven’t been missing, just buried under all sorts of personal matters that make me wish I could move to Cabot Cove, Maine (even if it is fictional) and be Jessica Fletcher’s neighbor. (Remember, the regulars never got killed on ‘Murder She Wrote,’ just the guest stars.)

So, it is Super Bowl week.

Oh joy.

Did you hear that Rob Gronkowski, like the rest of us, is day-to-day? Did you hear the Giants say the 2008 Super Bowl doesn’t matter regardless of how often the question is asked? Oh, and Peyton Manning is just fine. Or not fine. Without doubt, it’s one or the other. If only I had Rob Lowe’s cell phone number I could find out.

I almost went to this Super Bowl. If Lee Evans had held onto the ball in the end zone in Foxboro 10 days ago I would have gone. If Billy Cundiff had known what down it was and hadn’t rushed onto the field and hooked a 32-yard field goal attempt wide left, I might be there right now. (Question for those who pay more attention than I do: Did ANYONE from CBS notice or mention how late Cundiff came on the field or that the Ravens didn’t use the timeout they had either at that moment or in the endless postgame festivities? If they did, I missed it, but it was certainly clear that Cundiff arrived late and was rushed from where I was sitting).

I would have gone to The Super Bowl if the Ravens had been there and because I love Indianapolis. I obviously have great affection for the place because of the time I spent in Indiana 25 years ago (sales of the 25th anniversary edition of ‘Season on the Brink,’ have been remarkably brisk I’m happy to report) and because it is a very underrated city. Very good restaurants—including St. Elmo’s, the best steakhouse in the country as far as I’m concerned. It is also the perfect place for any major event because everything you want or need is walking distance.

Understand, I have nothing against either the Giants or the Patriots. As I’ve said before, I like Bill Belichick (hey, he even said something funny when his team got to town, saying he became a lot more popular in Indy after he went for it one 4th-and-two a few years back) and, even though I grew up a Jets fan and will continue to suffer with them (and the Mets and Islanders; hey, has anyone noticed that John Tavares has become an out-and-out STUD?) forever, I don’t hate the Giants. In fact, I pull for them at least twice a year. This season, they lost both those games.

But the Ravens presence would have made all the hype and bluster and logistical difficulties of Super Bowl week worth the effort. It also would have been a nice escape from all the fun of the last month. (Note: everyone in my family is healthy. This is about stuff less important but amazingly annoying and exhausting).

I’ve never been big on going to The Super Bowl. As a reporter, it is a waste of time. You’re basically a professional stenographer for a week. I’d rather watch the game at home on TV and go to bed as soon as it’s over. No doubt this is a sign of age. I’m actually starting to feel that way about the Final Four and years ago I would have told you if there was one event I’d go to forever that would be it. Now, not so much, especially since it has been so corrupted by the basketball committee and TV.

So, I’ll go to a college basketball game tonight; go to another one on Saturday; spend time with my family; keep plugging away at this other stuff and be grateful that the winter has been so mild so far. It’s warm enough to play golf. I wish I had the time.

Speaking of golf, I heard a rumor that Tiger Woods played last week. He went to Abu Dhabi, apparently because he likes to see new places. That’s what his website said anyway and Tiger would NEVER say something that was insincere in any way, shape or form. The $2-$3 million appearance fee he got had nothing to do with it. The fact that he has a new contract with Rolex and the tournament in Dubai, where he USED to get a $2-$3 million appearance fee is sponsored by Omega, had nothing to do with it.

(Tiger lovers, I write this just so you can yammer on about how unfair I am to your hero. God forbid anyone should, you know point out who the guy really is.)

Switching to a more pleasant topic: one of my former employers is making a mistake and I’m truly sorry to see it happen. Navy is joining the Big East in 2015, meaning it will be locked into eight conference games a season instead of having the flexibility that has allowed it to schedule itself (along with very good coaching) into eight bowls in nine years.

That means, in theory, Navy will have ONE game to play with on its schedule since it initially said it would keep playing Army, Air Force and Notre Dame. So, those of you who enjoyed those games against Ohio State, South Carolina and Stanford—along with next fall’s game at Penn State—you can forget about that. Navy will HAVE to schedule an automatic win in that slot. What’s more, I saw today where Coach Ken Niumatalolo is already hedging about continuing to play Air Force. He said Army and Notre Dame are absolute musts but Air Force, not so much.

Seriously, Kenny? The best game in college football every year if you care at all about tradition and the quality of the people on the field is Army-Navy. The second and third best games, in no special order, are Navy-Air Force and Army-Air Force. The fact that Navy would even CONSIDER not playing Air Force (and please Navy fans don’t say they didn’t always play pre-1972, that’s ancient and irrelevant history) is proof that this Big East move is a bad idea.

But then, no one asked me what I thought. At least the Army people DID ask me what I thought before their disastrous move to Conference-USA in 1998. They ignored me of course but at least they asked.

I wish Navy nothing but good things but I think, no matter how their various apologists/paid bloggers might rationalize it, this is a mistake. I hope I’m wrong.

My newest book is now available at your local bookstore, or you can order on-line here: One on One-- Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game 


Michael said...

Are you still doing appearances with the Gas Man in Seattle?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Baltimore fan but I was screaming at the television for Billy Cundiff to get in the position to kick the field goal, while I was also screaming at Harbaugh to call the timeout. I was just hopoing for overtime football. I don't think there was a jaw that wasn't touching the ground after that kick. What a shame. I can only imagine how Ravens fans must have felt.

PM said...

The Slate podcast "Hang Up & Listen" had an excellent explanation for the Cundiff fiasco. I recommend you listen for the details. Cliffs Notes: the scoreboard at NE displayed the wrong down on 4th, so Cundiff did not know it was time to go in to kick until the play clock was already winding down. Harbaugh could have made it meaningless if he used the timeout, so blame the coach.

JR said...

Good news - the 2013 US Masters Swimming Spring National Championships will be in Indy! They are 15 months away - plenty of time to prepare for the 100 fly. A celebratory dinner at St Elmo's sounds in order...

Anonymous said...

Ah, one must enjoy the cheap, yet funny shot at little danny snyder.

Bill said...

John, tiger did admit that he was getting paid to go to Dubai. You as usual just didn't do your homework.

Surprised you still won't let it go that he wouldn't talk to you for the Rocco book.

MikeTheBetterOneBossy22 said...

Hey Big John! The Islanders sneaked out a win last night in Philly! Do they have any shot in making the playoffs?

Anonymous said...

Another Islanders win! Only 6th points out of 8th place.