Super Bowl LIII Brought Us Back Down to Earth

Super Bowl LIII Brought Us Back Down to Earth

What should have been football's greatest turned out to be a lackluster game in the twilight of a once towering career.

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I surveyed the room with, what I say unabashedly, was a muted degree of satisfaction. After all, I had just spent the previous five hours scrubbing, vacuuming, and prepping for the gathering, including the cherry on top: an emergency run to the grocery store when it became known that we were sorely lacking paper plates.

As the curtain raised on Super Bowl LIII, there was no reason not to be satisfied. Sure, the Rams were in the fight in part thanks to a blown referee call, and the Patriots were…well the Patriots were the Patriots. And yet, despite those detractions, on paper, the matchup looked like a sweet treat. Oldest quarterback vs. one of the youngest quarterbacks. Oldest coach vs. youngest coach. Behemoth dynasty vs. talented upstart. Not to mention the number two and number five overall offenses, paired with some explosive defensive play. What's not to love about that main event?

It quickly became clear that everything was not to love. And though the party was still an enjoyable affair (in great part due to one of my roommates cooking an obscene amount of chicken wings), there were definitely moments when that enjoyment was sparse on the TV.

The final score: a 13-3 Patriots victory. It is one that will be satisfying for Bostonians, exhilarating for NFL record junkies, and very much meh for every other party involved.

The longest play from either team? Went only 29 yards. How many punts? Try 14 (including eight consecutive from the Rams to start the game). Two missed field goals, one from either team. An interception each from Brady and Goff. No touchdowns scored until seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, and only one touchdown at that.

The game's lone statistical jewel, Julian Edelman (who caught 10 passes for 141 yards), shined so bright that even I easily predicted he'd nab the Super Bowl MVP award as early as the second quarter.

What made the game even more frustrating was that the defensive play wasn't explosive, merely solid. There were no earth-shattering sacks, only dumb ones that could have been easily avoided (looking at you Jared Goff). Goff's pick was equally stupid. Brady's also ill-advised. Heck, there's even a particular incompletion that stands out in my mind as most heinous: with the Patriots at midfield, Brady tries to throw the ball to his halfback standing two feet away from him in the flat, and the ball hits dirt instead. As another one of my roommates smartly quipped (and not incorrectly so), "Even I could have made that throw."

So, strong defensive work, but hardly complimented by anything spectacular. And this is the Super Bowl, after all. Spectacle is what it's all supposed to be about.

I'm no happy man that the Patriots have won a sixth championship. But the way in which it was won is almost more damning. I wrote an article prior to last year's Super Bowl in which I complimented Tom Brady's amazing credentials but criticized the staying power of New England in the fashion of a fine, yet tired TV show that refuses to die.

If Super Bowl LII was the cathartic and nuanced bookend to an amazing, long-lived soap opera storyline, Super Bowl LIII was the moment the Patriots finally jumped the shark.

Who cares? Do Bostonians even care? As Yahoo's Dan Wetzel pointed out, it's been a whopping 97 days since the city hoisted its last major pro sports trophy.

I have the utmost respect for what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have managed to do with the Patriots. They took a perennial loser and in 17 years managed to appear in nine championships, winning six. Those numbers are legendary, on par with the likes of George Halas, Curly Lambeau, and Vince Lombardi. And none of those guys ever had to deal with a salary cap or Colin Kaepernick and the President of the United States openly feuding with one another.

And yet, with that accomplishment should come paralleled success in other metrics. The Patriots were good this year, but hardly great. Same for Tom Brady. I mean, the coolest thing about every other Patriot Super Bowl was that they never won or lost by more than one score. In every other instance, down to the very last snap, they had the chance to stake claim to victory or let it slip away.

Super Bowl LIII, comparatively, was a war of attrition reminiscent of World War I trench warfare. And even when the score was tied 3-3 you had a good idea who was going to win because Jared Goff was missing open receivers all day.

So, take your championship New England, hollow though it may ring. Perhaps if Drew Brees had been playing in Atlanta instead of Goff things would've been just as dismal, but perhaps not. My money is that between two wily old veterans, one of them would've awoken eventually. Instead, Tom Brady snoozed and his Los Angeles counterpart looked skittish from start to finish.

Thanks to that glaring no call (and admittedly a few key mistakes from New Orleans too), Brady v. Brees is not what we were gifted with. Instead we have this: 13-3. The lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. And perhaps also a whimpering finale from one of the NFL's most gargantuan, drawn from a career cast under the strange pallor of twilight.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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The Warriors' Fans May Need To Be Concerned About Stephen Curry

The six-time All-Star point guard's PPG has dipped over the past few games.

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The Golden State Warriors have been the most dominant NBA team over the past five years. They have claimed three NBA championships in the past four seasons and look to pull off a three-peat as they currently hold first place in the Western Conference more than halfway into the 2018-2019 NBA season. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been one of the primary reasons for their sustained success and is regarded by many around the NBA as the greatest shooter of all time and one of the best point guards in the league today. However, his points per game (PPG) total has dipped over the last few games. Should this be concerning for Warriors fans?

Curry got off to a hot streak early in the season and has had a few notable games like every season. He scored 51 points in three quarters while tallying 11 three-pointers against the Washington Wizards in the fifth game of the season and has delivered in the clutch with high-scoring games against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 23, 2018 (42 PTS) and Dallas Mavericks on January 13, 2019 (48 PTS).

However, Curry's consistency and point total have slipped over the past few games. He only put up 14 points and had a generally sloppy three-point shooting performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 2, and only 19 points four days later against the San Antonio Spurs, who were resting two of their best players, Demar Derozan and Lamarcus Aldridge due to load management. In addition, he only managed 20 points against a hapless Phoenix Suns team who made an expected cakewalk win for Golden State much harder than it should have been.

Perhaps Curry's numbers have dipped because he is still adjusting to having center Demarcus Cousins in the offense, or maybe I am simply exaggerating because Curry's standards are so high. The Warriors have won fifteen of their last sixteen games and are currently in cruise control heading for the top seed in the Western Conference. Perhaps the Warriors will ask more of Curry if the situation gets direr.

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