Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Dish on 43 With a Little Side of Crow

The most intimidating thing about putting your opinions out for public consumption is that something may happen to prove you completely wrong. The only way you can get past that intimidation is to accept the fact that you won't always be right, and when that happens, you have to be willing to admit it and face the music. That being said, I was completely wrong about Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. Now, before you get too excited, I'm not backing off my position that he is not an elite quarterback or that he has not been much better than average to this point in his career. I'm a numbers guy, and it is impossible for me to ignore the empirical proof that resides in the stats. And based on the stats, I'm comfortable with my position. What I was wrong about, however, was my belief that Big Ben would crap the bed again on Sunday. You don't need me to tell you this, but I was dead wrong about that.

What Roethlisberger did in the waning minutes on Sunday was nothing short of spectacular. Very few men have ever had the opportunity to lead their team on a game winning drive on the world's biggest stage. Even fewer have succeeded in this more than daunting task. Not only did Roethlisberger succeed, he did so in spectacular fashion. Forget about everything he has or hasn't done in his career prior to that final drive, in the course of that drive Roethlisberger stood side by side with Namath, Montana, Elway, Brady, and Eli. Nobody has ever stood taller, and there is simply no way to deny that. One day, if I have a son, I will tell him the story of the greatest 4th quarter in Super Bowl history, and I will have no choice but to tell him how Roethlisberger evaded defender after defender as he marched his team down the field and ultimately found Santonio Holmes tucked in the back right hand corner of the endzone for a touchdown that almost made Al Michaels' head explode. I just won't be able to avoid it. And, you know, I'm okay with that.

With that out of the way, here are some more random thoughts from 43, the world of sports, and yes, "24":

  • I don't want to appear like I'm attempting to minimize the greatness that was 43, and that is honestly not my intent, but I have to say this: the officiating was abysmal. The examples are too numerous to recount, but I will try:

1) It is apparently legal to shove would be tacklers in the back when a linebacker is barreling 100 yards at the end of a half;

2) that same linebacker apparently doesn't have to cross the goal line before his elbows and arms hit the ground in order to score a touchdown;

3) I don't even know what to say about the Dansby late hit;

4) apparently, it is okay if the nose of the ball hits the ground when Larry Fitzgerald catches a fade pass in the endzone (this was actually Tomlin's fault for not throwing the red flag); and

5) I still can't rationally discuss the absurdity of the last play, but I will try. I saw with my own eyes, in real time, that Warner didn't have an empty hand when his arm went forward. And, amazingly, that didn't change in the subsequent 200 times I've seen the replay. Everybody I know saw the same thing. Seriously, I've talked to dozens of friends, co-workers, and homeless guys that all saw the play and all know it wasn't a fumble. So, I have to ask: why wasn't it reviewed? And yes, I know Al Michaels claimed it was reviewed, but I simply can't believe that for two reasons: 1) After Holmes' catch, we had to wait no less than 6 minutes for confirmation of what was clearly a catch, but the Steelers took the snap and took a knee in less than 90 seconds from the time of the "fumble." Really? We spent less than 30 seconds reviewing the most important play of the season? 2) If that play was reviewed, it would have been reversed, right? If not, replay is officially a broken system, right? I know, I know...I will move on.

  • One last officiating related point: While I loved Michaels' excitement in the 4th quarter Sunday, I really thought he and Madden put in a disappointing performance. Listen, these are two of the all time greats, there is no doubt about it. If we built a Washington D.C. for sports announcers, Michaels would probably have a huge phallic symbol in the center of town bearing his name and Madden would likely have a monument of him sitting in a huge chair eating a turkey. That being said, they never pointed out the multiple clips on the touchdown run at the end of the first half, they didn't even point out that Tomlin should have challenged LF's first touchdown, and they didn't even acknowledge how shaky the ending was. Suffice it to say, if Michaels had the Cardinals on the money line, he would have been raising hell about the last play. I'm just saying that I may know a guy that was in that position. At the end of the day, these guys get a pass based on their prior greatness, but I'm putting them on notice that I expect more from them. Do you hear me Al and John?

  • In non-Super Bowl related news, rumor has it that UGA is looking for a Knight to ride in and save their dying basketball program. I've got to tell you, I think they are out of their mind for not having already hired him. Listen, I'm no Knight fan. I have many reasons, none of which really matter. The only thing that should be relevant to UGA is this: if they ever want to compete at the highest level of college basketball, they absolutely, indisputably, and without question must build a new basketball arena. Sure, there are many other things that need to happen, but nothing else really matters until they build a new arena. I don't know much, but I do know this. And, to that end, what better way to make that happen in short order than to bring in arguably the most recognized figure in basketball history? If I'm Damon Evans, UGA's AD, I give Knight all the money he wants and a five year contract. I make it clear to him that his job is to run a clean program, produce a team that doesn't embarass itself, and raise money for a new arena. Not in that order. I also make it clear that he has five years to raise the money and get the building under construction, and I make it clear that he will not coach at UGA for more than five years. At the end of five years, he can choose his successor, and the building will bear his name. End of story, done deal. If Knight isn't willing to make raising money for the building his top priority, he's a bad hire for UGA. He may bring you short term success, but there is no way you can have long term sustainability without a new building. I think I've made my point, so I'll move on.

  • Michael Phelps...really? That being said, Santonio Holmes had his own weed issues not too long ago, and now he is the Super Bowl MVP. Combine that with Phelps' gold medals, and this would be a perfect time for a combined Sports Illustrated/High Times edition.

  • I just want to be clear, regardless of whether I write every day from here until eternity, you will never again see the names Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds in this space. I'm so tired of these stories that I just don't want to waste your time or mine discussing it.

  • The fact that the Braves aren't throwing money at Manny Ramirez makes me angry, depressed, and confused...and, I'm sober. Forget for a moment that he is the most exciting hitter I've ever seen, is there anyone among you that wouldn't go see the Braves at least once just because Manny was hitting cleanup and staggering around left field? I don't want to be over dramatic about this, but, in my mind, the Braves disinterest in Manny pretty much signals their disinterest in winning. Not good times.

  • For all of you that have seen "Slumdog Millionaire", I would love to hear your thoughts. I will tell you that I think it has to be the best screenplay since "Goodwill Hunting", and I honestly think my life is better now that I've seen the movie. How's that for a ringing endorsement?

  • Finally, Jack is back and "24" is shedding the stink that was Season 6. I had planned on writing some witty and insightful commentary on the first seven episodes, but frankly, I'm tired. Suffice it to say, I'm loving this season, and I'm loving the resurrection of Tony, even though I'm still not convinced he's going to be playing for the good guys for the duration. More on this in the weeks to come...