Saturday, February 04, 2006

Super Bowl XL Syllabus

Isn’t it truly sad? I cannot actually believe this season is about to come to an end. This is by far the fastest any season has gone. I guess that is another example of how as you grow older time moves along quicker than we might like or even appreciate. Life is so fleeting, yet so few of us take the chance to examine ourselves in a way that allows the days to move slower.

I want to take this occasion to slow down time for a moment and allow everyone to realize where he or she is at and who they have become. We must periodically take time to reflect on the choices that we have made that have inevitably led to where we stand on this rotating ball of confusion. (I love funky temps)

I for one, begun my life as a poor scrawny boy born into a chaotic world of drugs and abuse that helped to mold my cynicism at a young age, that along with a city of so many sports disappointments. I witnessed countless acts of cruelty to my family and those around me. I was forced to grow in a home that was marred with screaming and violence and learned to associate this with what a family is supposed to be. My only recourse was to throw myself into my education to even give myself a chance at escaping my own personal hell.

I had to attempt to juggle school with making sure that my brothers and sister stayed on track, which proved to be an impossible task for a 15 year old. Instead of communication, I used brutality to motivate, as that was the only course of action that I had become accustomed to using or having used against me. I remember once my brother didn’t want to do his homework so I pummeled him until he would listen to reason.

However, it wasn’t all bad living in a house of no responsibility. I remember having a water fight with my brothers and my mom, where we drenched the entire house. It is one the best memories that I have as a child. Another was staying up late with my mom when my step dad was out binging. I would gladly get her Michelob’s and Lipton Rice soup while watching Dynasty and Dallas. It is the only fond memory I have about spending time with my mother. Once, I saw one of the druggies that lived at my house eat Alpha-Bits with Beer and it wasn’t because we were out of milk. That was very funny to me.

Those years seem like a blur to me now, not because of the drugs, but because of ignorance. Well, maybe a little because of the drugs. I made it through high school modestly graduating somewhere near the top in a massive class of 996. I always did my best to stay in the background, doing so because I felt that if I weren’t noticed, then no one would expect anything from me. I had intended to go to college, but money, or lack thereof, led me to another direction that was all too familiar.

I, putting it lightly, started to dabble in the world of psychedelics and alcohol that only helped to further my downward spiral. I was told by my ignorant father to leave as soon as I was able to employ myself. I spent the next several years working for a health insurance company where I continued my using and continued to blame everyone for my downfalls except the one in control of it all, myself.

I distanced myself from family almost to the point of being a stranger and I didn’t care. The only things in life that I did care about were sports, money and when I would be able to get high so I could have fun. Life was passing by me and I didn’t even notice. Then my mother passed and I was ready to give up. I was willing to work during the day and sleep at night. The only thing that I derived any joy from was football, but even that was reduced to another way to get money. It took 9/11 and meeting my wife to turn the tide.

She showed me how to feel emotion once again instead of living life like a robot, merely existing instead of actually enjoying life. She showed me that I was worth something and breathed life into my numb body. She enabled me to enjoy the simpler things in life and that we are only on this planet for a short time and need to enjoy what we can.

Don’t get me wrong; I still have that Philadelphian attitude. I can recall my bite as quickly as Mike Tice selling tickets in Detroit this weekend. Here he is trying to sell Dick Vermeil. "Dick, I got a really good deal for ya."

As long as my teams continue to build me up only to tear me down, then I will always hold disappointment close.

Super Bowl XL

Sunday February 5, 2006

In Detroit, this weekend commemorates Super Bowl X-tra Large. The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Seattle Seahawks. Ben Roethlisburger has done so well that people actually spell his name correctly. Matt Hasselback looks the part of Terry Bradshaw with his chrome dome. Now he only hopes to accomplish part of what Terry has done against Bradshaw’s old team. I said early in the year that if Holmgren knew what was best for him, then he would ride SA to the championship. It seems now he understands what it takes to win. Bill Cowher is a throwback. In this day and age of pro football, coaches are on short leashes. If they do not produce consistently, then they are given the boot. However, Bill has stood the test of time. He has had his share of disappointment and has come through it all.

Championships are won with defense and running games. Pittsburgh is a defense that everyone knows about. Seattle has a defense that seems to go unnoticed. We all know about the running games that these teams possess. It will be the situation back versus the all-encompassing super back. RBBC versus the one-man show. Who will have the best approach, only time will tell?

So much throughout the season there is talk about streaks and trends, about stats and matchups. All that goes out the window on Super Bowl Sunday. The game of games comes down to gameplan, execution. More specifically, who can handle the pressure and who can take control of the game. There are so many intangibles to take into consideration. Both coaches have coached in the big game with only Holmgren winning one. The media hype is magnified by a trillion when approaching the big weekend. Players cannot help but allow all kinds of thoughts enter their minds. It comes down to who can control their thoughts and keep their focus on the goal that almost 1700 men set their sights upon every year around Labor Day. Not only does the season culminate on this history-making day, but some careers do as well. Jerome has been to the big dance before only to have Neil O’Donnell throw more accurate passes to Larry Brown than his own teammates. Do you think that Jerome will be thinking about that game on Sunday? I say how could he not. Ben made it through the playoffs extremely well. Will he ponder his performance in last year’s AFC championship? Matt Hasselback knows that he has the MVP in his backfield to take the rock, but if it’s a close game in the fourth quarter, will he reflect on the playoff game against Green Bay where Al Harris took his ill-fated pass to the house after Hass guaranteed victory. Can Holmgren be the first coach to win the Show with two different teams? There are so many different mind games going on solely for the fact that each and every one of these men wants the same thing. They want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy High and feel vindicated for going through an intensely grueling season.

Sometimes these men are put on levels where people forget that they are just men. Maybe because of television or media attention, but alas they do feel stress and pressure like anyone else. The difference being that these men will do it in front of an audience of millions with the possibility of either making or breaking a career for many at stake.

So much depends on how the game begins; if you look at the history there have been many more blowouts than close games. I think this is because when teams get off running, the other team senses the end and plays out of character. Whichever team can stay patient, keep with a gameplan and stay focused will be victorious. Both coaches have a great ability to motivate and control. Both teams are disciplined and know what it takes to win.

I personally don’t see a blowout this year, as both teams are strong and ready to play. Seattle has never won a Super Bowl and that is the intangible that may put them over the top. Pittsburgh has the ball bouncing their way lately. You may say that sounds a bit cheesy, but when two teams are evenly matched and both have a fire that burns for the ultimate goal, then it is something as small as this that one team needs to put them over the top.

Seattle 24 Pittsburgh 28

MVP – Bill Cowher

14 Pittsburgh 3 Seattle – Halftime

I actually have some crap going on in my life right now that is more important than football will ever be, but I am looking forward to this game as a chance to step away from reality and enjoy myself.

If any of you are in any kind of fantasy game, then you don’t really need any advice, but as always Go With Your Gut and Don’t Look Back.

………….Professor Ellis D Trails.

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