Thursday, January 24, 2008

Football, Some Campari and a Hand-rolled Smoke

I want to write one post about football before the season ends. It may come as a surprise to some of you- who know I’ve been a Patriots fan since Bellichick came in -that my motivation to write this is not about them, although they’ll get talked about.

Something’s been on my mind for a while now and I need to say it. San Diego. The San Diego Chargers are one hell of a football team. With their biggest weapon mostly sidelined. With their quarterback injured. With injuries to their receiving corps and with other limitations that reduced their effectiveness; they played the best football of any team going, including The Patriots, during their final games. My respect for them is immense and I am going to start rooting for them.

If they had been healthy they might have beaten The Pats. It’s hard to say because New England rises to the occasion. Whatever the challenge has been they’ve been there to meet it. How they beat The Ravens and Giants in the end is a good example. There are a couple of qualities you have to have to be the champion. One of them is the ability to adapt; to rise to the occasion. The other is confidence, or call it determination or what have you. You need some other things too but these are two of the things I noticed about San Diego. San Diego is a class act. They have character and they have heart and they are going to the super bowl one day soon.

Philip Rivers is the best quarterback I’ve seen besides Tom Brady at this present time. Yes, I left out Peyton Manning but I don’t like Peyton Manning so I’m not going to include him. I don’t like him for the same reasons that I don’t like Curt Schilling or Roger Clemons. They are all three of them Hall of Famers but they’ve got that neo-con perspective on life ...and in the case of Manning, if he’s going to go through life looking like a NASCAR driver- human billboard my life as a commercial then they might as well dress him up like a bottle of Coca Cola in a miniskirt and put him in his own window on the grim Reeperbahn. Digressing... and I know this shouldn’t have anything to do with playing the game but it does for me.

Philip Rivers has something that Tony Romo does not have. He’s a money player. Tony Romo is a little like Drew Bledsoe and others I could name. He’s fine unless the game is important. This is perhaps the most critical thing that any quarterback can lack. It’s pretty clear that this is so if you just watch him. How long it will take The Cowboys to find this out I don’t know but they would be smart to trade him now before he devalues too much. He has got to go. Look what sticking with Grossman did to the Bears. He didn’t just lose games... he screwed up the idea that The Bears had about themselves. He sucked their confidence off. The worst thing you can do as a team leader is to cause your teammates to stop believing in themselves.

It’s possible that Romo might become a better quarterback with another team. Sometimes that happens. That’s not going to happen with Grossman. Grossman is Romo without Romo’s abilities and with more of what Romo lacks; if that makes any sense. Yes, I’m going to wander around in this post but I am headed somewhere. I’ll mention that at the end.

San Diego is going to beat New England down the road. They have to don’t they to get to the Super Bowl. The Patriots could have another perfect season next year. It’s not impossible. Look for them to add to every position where they see a need but sooner or later they’re going down. Brady needs to stay consistent for a couple more years and then he will be the greatest quarterback of all time. Right now that title still belongs to Joe Montana. A lot of people don’t know about Joe’s back and the pain he played with. Randy Moss will never be Jerry Rice I don’t think.

I want to tell you a little story about Chicago’s great running back, Walter Payton ‘sweetness’. There was curiosity about how he stayed in the shape he was in. One day he took a number of teammates to his home. For some reason it seems to me that Jerry Rice was along but maybe it’s because both of them had singular fitness programs. What Walter did was run up and down a hillside. The others ran with him but not for long. To hear what some of them said about that day and how Payton just kept going as they dropped off one by one tells you what being a champion requires. Jerry Rice had that sort of thing. Time will tell about Moss. He’s been through some real changes lately and that’s another argument for why Bellichick probably is the greatest coach of all time.

Deion Sanders likes to run his mouth. Hopefully he knows he’s wrong to question Ladanian Tomlinson’s heart. What a thing to say after what that the team achieved this year against such adversity. I watched them early in the season. I expected them to come out of the gate with a bang. It didn’t happen but I knew they were going to recover and they did. Tomlinson, along with being one of the games great runners is also a really good human being. He’s an exceptional person, one of the last people you want to say that sort of thing about.

The Giants are playing over their head and I think a lot of that is Tom Coughlin. I think they’re going to get a wakeup at Super Bowl but you never know and that’s what makes it all so interesting. One of the things about living in Europe is that you are confronted with soccer. I’ve tried but I can’t get into it. I don’t like the game but you can be sure I don’t publicize it. Cricket is another annoyance.

Green Bay went down because of the same nagging condition that has plagued them for years... Brett Farve. Brett Farve has a problem that’s too late to correct now. You see it in various athletes over the years. He wants to win so bad that he loses perspective and think he can force the outcome. This is why he gets intercepted and costs the team as much as he saves it. Their running back has got a great future. I do believe we are going to hear from him.

If Dallas gets another quarterback they’re in business. But right now it’s The Patriots. What an accomplishment! With parity what it is, they have achieved something that may never happen again. In the end it is down to Bill Bellichick. Without him it would not have happened and we could all learn something by paying attention to how he approaches his job and borrowing some of it to manage our lives. I’m not a perfect person and I have to live with the recognition of that every day. When I see what Bellichick has accomplished. When I see what others have accomplished, I know that I too can accomplish something if just keep trying and learn from my mistakes. This is one of the reasons that I like football because it’s a metaphor for life. To paraphrase one of my favorite writers, a fellow named Ducadmo, I probably never metaphor I didn’t like.

Life is full of linebackers and offensive lines. I could get carried away for a few more pages exploring that but George Carlin did it for me. I know I piss people off now and then but I’m trying to quit. I’m not a great quarterback either but I do have a fantastic coach. I learn something new every day which reminds me that I have to go to the forum where I plan on putting this up, as well as a few other places, and tell a certain fellow something. It never hurts to make what amends you can because it always leads to a better you.

I think this Super Bowl is going to be a lot of fun and for those of you who don’t have a dog in this fight you have my commiserations. I’ve been there. I look forward to the day when we can put our differences aside. In another place and another time it will happen. In the meantime, enjoy the game. I think I wound up where I was going and that is the end of this strange little essay.

Visible sings: Almost A Capella by Les Visible♫ I'm a New Age Twinkie ♫
'I'm a New Age Twinkie' is track no. 10 of 12 on Visible's 2007 album 'Almost A Capella'

Almost A Capella by Les Visible



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