I had about 300 words down for why I love the Super Bowl (and Peyton Manning and the Panthers), and why the Panthers were going to win 35-13. Pretty glad I didn't publish that sucker, now that I think about it. So, we're not quite 48 hours past the end of Super Bowl 50, and I think I'm about 85% recovered from the loss. I was convinced that the Panthers would win. I thought that their play throughout the season, coupled with a declining Peyton Manning, would result in a fairly easy win. I ignored the fact that this was Cam Newton's first SB, and I covered my ears when smart people talked about the likelihood of Von Miller and Demarcus Ware shredding the tackles for Carolina. Of course, the latter happened to a degree that we've never seen before, and the Panthers seemingly were overmatched from the first drive on. At the end of the night, I end up sitting through my third-toughest sports experience ever, I think (In case you were wondering, I actually wrote down my other awful sports experiences). Read More
I had a dream the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday. It was one of those lucid episodes where you remember everything so vividly to the point where there’s no question that what you’re experiencing isn’t real. I was in a bar, and it was the week after the Super Bowl. I ran into one of my friends, and, in the midst of our conversation, he pointed up at the television screen with feigned indifference. “Welp,” he said. “Can’t believe the dab’s over.” I looked up and read Super Bowl 50’s final score in glowing gold type: Denver Broncos 29 – Carolina Panthers 13.
In the dream I was livid. I began to yell and gnash my teeth and scream at anyone around me about the stupidity of the NFL. Then, before I could finish a coherent sentence, I woke up. It was Saturday morning and the sun started peaking through the blinds. There were no think pieces about the loss, no crying Jordan memes and no odes to the “everyman” brilliance of Peyton Manning. There was just the sound of a dog barking in the apartment over. I would have to wait another day to wake up again.
On Sunday, perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL informed his coaches that he was retiring from the league at age 30. The most pressing question to arise out of this may very well be: wouldn’t you, if you were him?
Backtracking for a moment: Johnson, affectionately referred to as Megatron, has played nine seasons for the Detroit Lions, one of only four NFL franchises yet to appear in a Super Bowl. He has played in two playoff games, both of which the Lions lost. Combine that with growing concerns about what the sport of football does to the human body over time, and Johnson may have just become the biggest star to set a template for exiting the NFL on one’s own terms. But even more than that, he just seemed fed up, like your dad being asked to do some menial tasks after mowing the lawn.
Election season kicks into full gear today with the Iowa caucuses, an occasion riddled with dispute, intrigue and the eternally raging debate of democracy’s precise place in this country. While the caucuses can be good indicators of a political party’s eventual Presidential candidate, they are by no means perfect, as peer pressure and community influence° can alter the outcome.
In this election season, it bears remembering that the purest form of democracy left in this nation, and possibly in the world, happens in sports. Leaving All-Star voting to the fans can cause some anomalies, not the least of which being that fans voted career enforcer John Scott to play in the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. Unlike some of the new bosses we meet, who end up being same as the old boss, Scott did not disappoint the voters, nor did he leave any question about how deserving he was.
Following a fan vote which understandably, if unjustly, selected Kobe Bryant to the start for the Western Conference All-Star team, Draymond Green was the odd man out. His all-existence teammate Steph Curry was an easy choice; Klay Thompson was likely to make the cut anyway, having been an All-Star in 2015 and the acknowledged second-choice weapon of the Golden State Warriors’ attack.
But what of Green? Indeed, he was an almost unanimous selection of pundits and the like to make this year’s squad, and sure enough, Thursday’s edition of NBA on TNT made room for the announcement of All-Star reserves, with Green among the most prominent. The man who once favorably compared himself to Al Gore is, finally and deservedly, an NBA All-Star.
Since he announced his retirement, effective at the end of this season, Kobe Bryant has played more like the Kobe of old than the broken shadow he has become. The “Kobe of old” here is the Bean, the player who came off the bench and won a Slam Dunk contest before ever winning a championship. In those days, through 2006 in fact, Kobe sported the number 8.
Since undertaking his own re-branding a decade ago, he has worn the number 24. Like any decent American sporting organization – because this is how we choose to honor our favorite athletes in this country, for better and for worse – the Los Angeles Lakers will eventually hold a jersey retirement ceremony for Kobe. What number they will retire, however, has sparked debate, with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak saying it could even be both 8 and 24. Plenty of teams have retired the same number for two different players, and plenty of players have had their number retired by multiple teams, but if Kobe has both of his numbers retired by the Lakers, that may set a new precedent.
The question is, if Kobe Bryant is the Greatest Laker Ever™, why stop at just the two numbers he actually wore?
On Sunday in Charlotte, a quarterback led his team to a 31-0 first half lead, one that team nearly squandered entirely, before securing a victory. The quarterback is his league’s MVP, and his team has been consistently – and rather quietly – the best in the league this season by no small margin. His celebrations have prompted equal parts resounding support and agitated ire, the latter of which hounds the player for his childlike enthusiasm, charisma-as-arrogance and, mostly, his stellar play, the likes of which the sport has never seen previously.
Meanwhile, on Monday night in Cleveland, a joyous band of star shooters thoroughly tore down the greatest basketball player of his generation in the arena in which they celebrated their championship seven short months ago. The centerpiece of that squad, a point guard from Charlotte, is his league’s MVP and, barring something unforeseen, will be again. Aside from a small pocket of rage which seemingly only comes from contrarian people with a noticeably absent agenda otherwise, the American public and media have resoundingly accepted this team for its childlike enthusiasm, charisma-as-arrogance and, mostly, its stellar play, the likes of which the sport has never seen previously.