CATEGORY: Footballl



I’ve got a landmark birthday coming up.

The time I’ve spent in this land is marked by the Super Bowl. As the Big One ages, so do I. The Super Bowl turns 30 Sunday. I turn 30 in May. This is no great cause for alarm. There are still people here (Gene Phelps, Mike Talbert and others) who are older than me.

The Super Bowl and I are the same age. For some reason that strange and insignificant fact intrigued me when the two of us were much younger, and I’ve always followed the game. When I began to follow the NFL, I looked back at the fewer than 10 Super Bowls that had already been played.

When my friends were reading Boy’s Life, I was reading Sports Illustrated. (I still read SI, but I haven’t heard my friends speak of Boy’s Life lately.)

Following the Super Bowl hasn’t been reason for great acclaim the last 11 years, and for that matter, following the NFL hasn’t been either. In spite of the recent disappointment of football’s biggest game, I do believe it will be closer this year.

I emphasize closer, not different. The only thing different about the Big One this year and last is that the AFC did manage to send us its best representative.

The thought of San Diego in the Super Bowl didn’t really charge me up last year, even though one of my college acquaintances from Northeast Louisiana was calling the shots.

For most of last Sunday it appeared the Steelers were about to offer an encore presentation of their 1994 crash and burn.

The presence of Pittsburgh in this game is important not because the Steelers may win, but because I do think they’ll keep it close. Two touchdowns I’m thinking here. If something bizzare happens and Pittsburgh wins, feel free to call me and laugh. This is one prognostication I’d be glad to miss.

Back in the 70s I lived and died with the Dallas Cowboys. (My favorite team remains the Saints, but I so rarely “lived’ with them that they don’t fit in this column.) But the only thing that remains from those Cowboys are the stars on the helmets. They have much greater talent and much less character.

Tom Landry and Roger Staubach were guys who won with class. I have not and will not recover from Jerry Jones’ handling of Tom Landry in 1989.

So Sunday I will reverse my field from the 70s and cheer for Pittsburgh. My Uncle Jimmy, rest his soul, will be proud of me.

There was a great deal of excitement for the Packers after they eliminated the 49ers in the second round. I like to see parity in the league, but Green Bay had no chance against Dallas. As Brett Favre said after the loss to the Cowboys, the Packers’ improvement has been a “step-ladder” process. Beating the Niners was the highest rung yet. It was Green Bay’s Super Bowl. They played and coached their hearts out.

The 49ers have their problems, but one thing they do well is intimidate Dallas, which is 0-3 against Frisco since Jones coaxed Barry Switzer out of retirement. San Francisco comes closer than anyone to Dallas’ talent level and has the self confidence that the trash-talking Cowboys try to portray.

I have resigned myself to the fact that Dallas will win its fifth Super Bowl Sunday. I celebrated with the Cowboys in the first two, but now I’ll just tolerate the wisdom of Michael Irvin and a certain barrage of new Deion commercials. Then I’ll quietly hope Green Bay can take that next step on the ladder. (I think the Saints are out of it.)

The Super Bowl will turn 30 Sunday. I hope the Big One has a good day, and I hope the Steelers get the cake.

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