Heads you win, tails this sucks
I should be happy right now. For the first time in the entire NFL playoffs, the outcome of the weekend was exactly as I predicted.
The Colts proved how crazy good they are by staying in the locker room until about the two-minute warning of the first half and still hammering the Jets with 24 unanswered points to win 30-17.
The Saints emerged from a back-and-forth war against an ageless hero and his purple-headed warriors – wait for it… – to ensure an appearance in a Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Both of these outcomes were as I had previously declared, which usually I find very satisfying. You see, I have this tiny little quirk about being right, where I’m pretty sure I always am, and any hard evidence toward the contrary might lean some to believe my theory has a hole in it, which is less-than ideal.
As I was saying, I should be happy right now but I’m not. First of all, making the picks I made wasn’t exactly a daunting task; they were both the favourites to win. And secondly, after the final play completed in each of the two conference championships I instantly felt there was something wrong. The AFC feeling was obvious: Great, two weeks and four more quarters of Peyton “I’m Mr. Fancy-Pants Defense Reader, so I have to point at everyone and call an audible six times before we snap the ball and get on with this freakin’ game” Manning.
But, like it or want-to-stab-forks-in-your-eyes hate it, Manning is just a freak of nature with the pigskin and will be back in this game at least another couple of times after this. So I can’t really complain beyond my own irrelevant beefs.
However, the irritated feeling I had after the Saints won 31-28 in overtime is one I had felt before: How can a league, which claims the title of king of all North American leagues, allow games of such magnitude to be swayed by a coin toss?
There is no doubt that Minnesota made their own bed by fumbling the ball six times, losing three. And there is no doubt Grandpa Favre showed his old weakness, which has always been untimely throws into tight coverage. But once a game reaches overtime, no amount of mistakes in regulation matter and each team deserves equal opportunity.
Flipping a coin and then handing the ball to the highest-powered offense on earth, needing only a field goal in front of hometown fans to win, is not equal opportunity. That’s like handing a baseball bat to a bully; chances are his opponent is in serious trouble.
All year long the story has been Brett Favre and his career season with his former lifelong rival. The NFL even played that angle on the way into this last game, pushing to the backburner the fact the Saints have never reached the Super Bowl and are doing it for fans only four-and-a-half years removed from a city-destroying natural disaster that left their lives in ruin. Then it comes to a tie game in the NFC championship and the biggest story of the year has to stand on the sidelines and watch, while the saga comes to an end.
How stupid is that? I don’t even like Brett Favre, nor was I cheering for the Vikings (please forgive me AT, Randall and Sheri, I still love you all) but I know that’s no way for a game like that to end.
I asked a buddy what he thought and he wasn’t bothered by it. So I asked why it was a good rule to toss a coin and he said, because it’s just the way it is. Well that’s an acceptable answer for why I have to file income tax but it’s pretty weak for defending a rule in a football game. Even college football, which lets a computer, a bunch of old men and four million bowl games decide its outcomes, gives each team equal possession in overtime.
Clean it up, NFL.
As for the two teams left, many are calling the Saints a team of destiny, which of course sounds really great every single year, in every single sport when at least one team claims this title. But nonetheless that’s what I’m hearing, so I guess we’ll see.
I don’t think anyone will have to stretch too far to guess who I’ll be cheering for but my actual pick is a different story all together.
I love destiny and I’m rooting for it big time. But unless destiny figures out how to dish out violent bouts of food poisoning sometime in the next two weeks, I’m guessing Manning is going to show up.
And he just might embarrass destiny. Right in front of destiny’s girlfriend.