Friday, January 31, 2014

Why I Want the Broncos to Win

There's a thread over at SteelersDepot about how to survive a Superbowl without the Steelers in it.  They asked the question about whether people were Steelers fans or football fans, the nafka mina is whether you could watch football when the Steelers fate is sealed. Since I'm an expatriate Pittsburgher, I have had to live for years without my favorite NFL team to root for.  So for me this is an easier prospect than for the Western PA locals.

I am a sports fan, especially in the past few years when I've soured on Hollywood and TV, and my answer is easy (see below for what that means).  But even with the Steelers out, I can still root for them, in a roundabout way.  Because the Steelers are an elite team, we fans can take a very long view, at least in the Superbowl era.

We root for overall Superbowl record.  See what I wrote last year before the nightmare of SB47 for more on this, but basically I root for the Steelers to have the most SB appearances, SB wins, and if possible the best SB record.  For example, last year's Superbowl was a nightmare because I needed to root for the Ravens (ugh) so the 49ers could lose and ruin their 5-0 record.  If SF won, then they'd have as many rings as Pittsburgh but no losses.  Thank goodness they lost (you should have heard me at the end of the game, after the 'mysterious' blackout).

So for this year, I again take a long view, and it may be even longer than most. I'm rooting, seriously, for the Broncos.   Here are the reasons, with the biggest at the end:
  1. Both teams are artificially inflated because they have the two most egregious home-field advantages.  The Seahawks' 12th-man bull-spliff is infuriating - it's basically cheating.  But that also makes them likely to be worse when they're on a neutral field.  The inflated stats/wins skew the data, and that kinda stuff fools people (see my rants about the 2000 election and Spygate), but I expect to see it on display Sunday.  Same holds for Denver.  They got to 3 Superbowls in the 80s on Elway's arm, Browns being the Browns, and the home-field advantage which inflated their numbers.  Both teams this year are actually talented, so I expect a good battle, but I don't like either team because of the home-field cheat.
  2. Richard Sherman's insane rant after the NFCCG doesn't affect my rooting interest.  He was classless and remains so, but a lot of athletes act that way.  Although, I don't ever remember an unhinged rant like his.  Muhammad Ali was controlled, Sherman was actual crazy.  If you recall, Sherman was busted for taking Adderall, and while it may be that he was abusing it to get the crank boost (like many highschoolers), it could also be that he has ADHD.  I know people with ADD and Sherman's rant falls into the category of someone with that condition.  The reason people were repulsed is because unmedicated abnormal psychology is disturbing.  But it's a real condition and he needs meds.
  3. The reaction to Sherman went racist very quickly, another scary sign of what America remains even years after the Civil Rights Act.  Hence why I want to emphasize that while Sherman was classless and unhinged, my tack against the 'hawks is not racially based.  If it were the 'hawks against the Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders, Browns (ha), or Texans, I'd be rooting for them.
The biggest reason I'm rooting for Denver, is because I need Manning to win for the Steelers sake.  Follow me here: Manning winning will add more wood to the fire of Spygate. Brady is given more credit than Manning because of their head-to-head match-ups, which could/probably have been Manning wins. If Manning wins Sunday, on a new team against a #1 defense and in the cold, then it'll help him - sure - but will finally convince hold-outs that Brady was propped by cheating.

And then, oh I hope, we can convince people that the Steelers should have been in the 2001 and 2004 Superbowls as well.

Look at how long they make Jerome Bettis wait to get into the Hall.  The Patriots cheated to win the AFC championships in 2001 and 2004.  If the Steelers went to Superbowl 36 and 39 as well as 40 with Bettis, he'd be in on the first ballot. We'd have maybe one more ring (over the Eagles, which would have been Pennsylvania sweet, but the Rams were too tough IMO) and our team would have been the legitimate dynasty, helping get Faneca, Cowher and Hines into the Hall as well.

So, in my mind, Manning winning will help fuel the case for Steelers greatness as well.

1. My biggest proofs for Patriot cheating - aside from their actually getting caught and Goodell burning the evidence because of the horrible damage it would cause the whole sport, cf. Tour de France - is that the Patriots had abnormally high turnovers.  I watched Superbowl 39 recently and the announcers were saying how amazing the Patriots D was at being able to know when a screen pass was coming.  The Pats won all three Superbowls by a field-goal, which shows their lack of non-cheating talent.

2.  For "the Browns being the Browns" see this great video:

Steelers New RB Coach

So far, the Steelers are doing very well in the off-season.  The AFC North was mess this year: Bengals win the division but crash and burn gloriously in the first game, as usual; the Steelers & Ravens are both 8-8, which for the 2013 AFC was actually pretty good, but not up to both team's standards, and the Browns were the Browns.

The offseason has continued the bad juju with coach changes. The Bengals lost their OC (new Redskins HC) and DC (new Vikings HC), the Ravens their OC (new Detroit HC), and and the Browns were the Browns.: they fired their head-coach in what looks like a panicked frenzy, their very talented Coordinators, both Offense and Defensive, walked.  And the Steelers?  So far, we've lost two position coaches, O-line and Running Backs.  The O-line has been a disaster for a long time and not only did we jettison a bad load, but we hired probably the most talented possible person out there, Mike Munchak, making our staff the only one with three former head-coaches, and two Hall-of-Famers.

The loss of our RB coach, Kirby Wilson, doesn't sadden me either.  The guy was ambitious, apparently, and the Steelers aren't a place to rise as RB coach.  We've had only 2 RB coaches from 1972-2013!  Anyway, the running game has been miserable, along with the O-line, for years, so good riddance.   The new fellow is James Saxon, and he may be exactly what we need. According to poster furthur56 at Behind the Steel Curtain:
So you're saying the guy that got to Kansas City the same year that Priest Holmes got there has only "okay" credentials. You know they guy who Baltimore didn’t want, had rushed for only 2000 yards over 4 seasons, and became a huge breakout star after he hooked up with Saxon. The guy who was there when Larry Johnson was drafted and after initial reports on him tended to include the “bust” label, also developed into a huge star. I’m sure James Saxon had nothing to do with that development. In the history of the NFL only 11 times has a running back scored 20 or more rushing touchdowns in a season, 3 out of those 11 times the plateau was reached by a running back coached by James Saxon. The guy has coached 4 different Running Backs and, you’ll love this Steeler fans, 2 different Fullbacks to Pro Bowl Seasons. That’s a little better than “okay” credentials in my book. He’s shown that he can take a Running Back off the trash heap (Holmes) and make him realize his potential. He’s shown what he can do with a young player (Johnson) who has talent, but lacking in fundamentals. He’s shown he can get the most out of older players (Tony Richardson, Ricky Williams) who are in the twilights of their careers. He’s shown what that he can manage a bona fide Superstar (Peterson) through the best season of his career. The only thing he hasn’t done is work for a team with a Quarterback as good as Ben. Every stop Saxon has been, the Running Game was pretty much the entire offense, defenses knew to prepare for it, and still, the running game produced. Those are his credentials. And while you are free to categorize them as merely “okay”, I wonder what a credentials a candidate would need in order to “thrilled by the hire”.

Like Dick Hoak, Saxon has always been a RB coach - Hoak for us 1972-2007 - and Saxon for 22 years over different teams. No (false) ambition to be an OC etc. He wants to do what he does, similar to Munchak who agreed to be an o-line coach after being a freakin' head coach. Shows that's where Munchaks' heart beats, and I think Saxon as well.

I'd even put some money on the possibility that when Saxon became available, the Steelers front office made a calculation and asked for a 'trade.'

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mark of a Modern Fan

How I can prove my bona-fides as a Steeler fan: I'm extremely excited about the hiring of an Offensive Line coach.