Saturday, January 31, 2009

Better Than Advertised Super Bowl

It’s been awhile, so I apologize for the four week hiatus, but my dad is running for governor which means my priorities have changed lately.

But, I couldn’t let the Super Bowl get away without having a few words about a matchup that is better than it’s cracked up to be in our part of the country.

I’ve heard a lot of locals complain about the fact that both the Titans and Falcons were ousted early on, as well as East Tennessee’s favorite son Peyton Manning. Some hardcore Manning fans even pinned their hopes on younger brother Eli, but his Giants faltered in their first round game as well.

And just up the road in Knoxville others were anxious to see hometown hero Chad Pennington’s Cinderella story continue into the postseason. That didn’t happen either.

But for all of you southern sports fans who feel like there is nothing to see and no one worth rooting for, I suggest otherwise.

You’ve got on the one hand a great sports franchise on the brink of winning its record sixth Super Bowl. And on the other hand you’ve got the oldest, continuously run football team in America with tradition dating back to the 19th century, yet they haven’t won squat in 62 years.

The Cardinals may be steeped in tradition, but it’s a losing tradition.

After they won that 1947 NFL Championship who would have guessed that the proud Chicago Cardinals wouldn’t land on their feet again for 62 years and by that time they would have been shunned to play their football in the Arizona desert.

The story gets better.

The Cardinals have landed on their feet with a 37 year old quarterback named Kurt Warner who
was deemed “over the hill” and no longer good enough to start in the NFL just two years ago. Not to mention Warner is one of the all-time “good guys” in the professional sports world, an outspoken Christian and devoted family man.

His supporting cast includes the NFL’s most talented wide receiver duo in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and former Colts’ running back Edgerrin James, whose comeback season rivals Warner’s. Those are guys who have seen their fair share of tough breaks.

Boldin had part of his face shattered in a collision earlier in the year that caused his quarterback, Warner, to consider retirement. Fitzgerald left the University of Pittsburgh with the potential to be one of the greatest receivers ever, and has performed as such, but has never had a significant stage to display his talents. Until now that is. And James, who starred alongside Peyton Manning for all those years but never won a ring, temporarily lost his starting job this season to a rookie.

Then the story gets even a little better because those long forgotten Cardinals played their hearts out all the way to a Super Bowl showdown with the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are known to have one of the country’s largest fan bases, a loyal bunch of black and yellow clad, Terrible Towel waving football fans that supposedly spread far and wide.

Yet, national polls showed that 60% of the country favored the underdog Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

However, Vegas still crowned the Steelers the heavy favorite.

Almost the same exact thing happened last year when the New York Giants had to play the odds on favorite New England Patriots. America’s heart was with the underdog Giants, but Vegas’ brain was with the juggernaut Patriots.

The Giants played harder and tougher with grit and determination, and won Super Bowl XLII. The Cardinals seem primed for a repeat performance.

Don’t bet against the heart of America’s underdog. That’s my prediction.

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