Billy Beane: Man, I've been doing this for... listen, man. I've been in this game a long time. I'm not in it for a record, I'll tell you that. I'm not in it for a ring. That's when people get hurt. If we don't win the last game of the Series, they'll dismiss us.
-- "Moneyball," Columbia Pictures, 2011
The college football bowl season has its detractors, but I've always liked it, because in an amateur sport, it gives 30-35 teams the opportunity to be champions of something.
In pro sports the world only cares about the team that wins the last game of the year, and everyone else is diminished or forgotten. Great competitors like Dan Marino, Ernie Banks and Charles Barkley are remembered by some as failures because they "never won the big one." Jimmy Kelly and Peyton Manning have their legacies tarnished by "failing" in the ultimate game. Critics discount all the effort and sacrifice it took to reach one.
The party gets started: Right tackle Russell Okung has no fear of germs and no limit to his happiness in the moment. The Seahawks are Super Bowl Champs (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports).
Thing is, it's a team game. Dan Fouts and Marino were as good as anybody, but it takes a coach, a running game and a defense to win a title. Trent Dilfer has a ring and no one is calling him a great player, and I don't believe Joe Flacco is either. Joe Namath has one and he's busy being an aging parody of himself.
Then again, how can anybody be called World Champions of a game 6.2 billion people have never heard of? Duane Thomas, a former running back with the Cowboys and Redskins, once asked the media during Super Bowl week, "Why do they call it The Ultimate Game when they play it again next year?"
Over the last few weeks, we've examined the issues and answers of Duck football from a critical perspective, even taken some shots at players and coaches we deeply respect. It's never personal. Dreaming of excellence and the pinnacle of achievement, the standard has to be high and hard questions have to be asked, particularly in a world as competitive as Division One football.
At the conclusion of the team banquet November 30th, Mark Helfrich told his team,"Continue to ascend. There's only two ways to be happy, and that's to get better or lower your expectations. And we will never lower our expectations in any way, shape or form."
Win or lose, I love the Ducks. I wouldn't work on this blog as hard as I do if I didn't. In the same way we love our kids, but we never stop expecting the best from them. You could hardly say you loved them if you didn't.
My son had a traffic accident on Thursday. He's a grown man now, but I asked him what happened, if he was all right, if he needed a ride home. Turns out he was rear-ended when the car in front of him stopped short. He's okay, the pickup has a slight ding, but the other guy's car is smashed.
The accidents, scrapes, and mistakes of life come along and we all suffer our share of damage, even wreckage. In Seattle tonight they are burning couches and acting like fools, and next year it will happen in another city. Ultimately (that word again) sports are a currency for our passion and the opportunity to bond and forget about our troubles for a while.
Somebody once said that he read the front page to read about men's failures, and he read the sports page to read about men's successes. I believe that. The most enduring, interesting part of sports is the courage and sacrifice, the bonding and dedication that makes a great team. It's impossible for me to root for Pete Carroll, a former USC Trojan who once mouthed "f@#! you to Mike Bellotti from the sideline on national television, but I have to admire the intensity and enthusiasm with which he coaches, and the way he instilled that in the Seahawks. They dominated the Broncos today, and deserved to win their ultimate game.
Nicely captured, Dale. I too, have an issue rooting for a Peenie Carroll team, but the Seahawks played an amazing game and the Broncos again picked the big stage to fold up like a circus tent....
Having been a Bronco fan since my high school days in Colorado during the mid-seventies, of course I was rooting for Peyton and my Donkeys. Unfortunately they were badly outplayed and it still stings.
Many won't remember that the Broncos were 0 - 4 in the Super Bowl before their back to back wins in the late 90s. They were beaten soundly by Dallas in 1978 (27 - 10) and the New York Giants in 1987 (39 -20) and then thoroughly embarrassed by Washington Redskins in 1988 (42 - 10) and of course the biggest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, losing to the San Francisco Forty Niners 55 - 120 in 1990.
Now they are the owners of that ignominious record of losing the most Super Bowls of any team. (5)
The only solace I can find in this latest debacle is to remind myself that they have been good enough to make it to the big game 7 times, which puts them in great company (Steelers & Cowboys each with 8, Denver and New England tied with 7)
I know how much it takes to even get to the Super Bowl, I'd just like for them to show up next time.
"Intensity and enthusiasm" was the difference. Seattle isn't that much more talented than Denver and they're not that much bigger. They play from the heart. Just look at the difference in the intensity of the tackling and blocking. Pete Caroll is an intense coach who instills intensity and enthusiasm in his team, the perfect coach for a championship team. I would like to see the Ducks amp up their intensity and enthusiasm this year and they'll be hoisting a significant trophy also.
@goducks58 Thanks gd, always good to hear from you. Funny how when you go through your life as a fan of a team how you will experience adversity and despair and exasperation and jubilation, and you never stop hoping. They got off to a bad start and ran in to a hot team with a good plan and a better defense. You'll be back on your couch in September, the offensive line a little stronger, the running game and linebackers improved, hoping again. Thank juju for the season; they're long and they keep us young.
@duckified The intensity showed up in a swarming front seven and on special teams, and they sustained all during the game.
It was all about intensity. Never before has the distinction between a soft, finesse team, and a hard, physical team been as distinct. The Seahawks defense was intense, and I think the Broncos played scared. It looked to me that the defensive backfield of the Seahawks liked it better when a Broncos receiver caught a pass because then they could smash him.
Russell Wilson did indeed manage the Seahawks, but there is no way that his performance was lacking in ability. He threw lasers, and had touch. The placement of the balls to the receivers was uncanny. He would run out of the pocket, and spin around, but he always knew where he was, and where the receivers were. If these two teams played 10 times, the Seahawks would win 10 times.