Friday, February 5, 2016

Super Thoughts On The Big Game

  The final football of the year will be Sunday’s ‘big game’. Are you wondering why I called it the ‘big game’ and not Super Bowl 50? There is a simple reason. The ‘Super Bowl’ is a registered trademark of the National Football League and I am not legally allowed to say ‘Super Bowl’ unless I have paid the National Football League for the privilege (Here is an explanation). Otherwise people might confuse this Broken Pawn with the actual sponsors of the ‘big game’ like Pepsi and Budweiser so let me make it clear that I am not a sponsor of the big game.

  Unlike last year’s deflate-gate controversy surrounding the New England Patriots there has been no headline grabbing story heading into this year’s contest. One big story are the rumors that this may be Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning’s last game, which got a boost at the end of the Patriot-Bronco AFC Championship game when Manning told Patriot coach Bill Belichick that this may be ‘his last rodeo’. The comments were recorded and publicized. This past week Manning seemed perturbed when asked about his comments saying “What happened to private conversations on the 50 yard line?”, apparently not realizing there are short and long range microphones everywhere all over the field ready to catch every utterance of every player.

  A bigger Peyton Manning story during the year was a documentary published by the Al-Jazeera television network that alleged Manning used human growth hormone issued under his wife’s name in 2011 when Manning was recovering from multiple neck surgeries. The report was widely ridiculed and Manning has threatened to sue Al Jazeera but has not up to the present time.

  The story’s main informant is a former worker at a ‘recovery’ clinic named Charlie Sly. Sly recanted his statements in a You Tube video, saying his remarks were recorded without his knowledge by a known fraudster. When I listened to the retraction it gave me some pause since it wasn’t like he gave false statements to Al Jazeera, he was telling stories not knowing he was being recorded. It reminded me of the Linda Tripp – Monica Lewinsky conversations that were secretly taped where even though the recordings were done illegally the statements were later proven to be true. One thing that came out of this was the information that Manning’s wife really was getting HGH prescriptions from the company Sly alleged was funneling the product to Manning through his wife. This reminded me of the Roger Clemens steroid accusations where HIS wife was getting HGH and it was supposed to be for her and not for Clemens.

  Now none of this was mentioned by announcer Jim Nantz during CBS broadcast of Manning’s return from injury in the Broncos game against the San Diego Chargers in the season finale. This was for a number of reasons. Manning is a golden boy of the league which CBS pays millions and millions of dollars for the rights to broadcast the games, Al Jazeera sounds like the subversive type of organization that would probably love to bring down an American icon like Manning, and Manning and Nantz are both represented by agent Sandy Montag.

  Another big story was Panther quarterback Cam Newton saying that the reason his touchdown and first down celebrations are criticized is because “I'm an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven't seen nothing that they can compare me to…”.

  I think Newton’s mention of race is off base. The people who get upset at African-American athletes’ football celebrations probably stopped following football a long time ago. Most quarterbacks aren’t as flamboyant as Newton but Newton isn’t nearly as flamboyant as wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson from the last decade or the inane sack dance of caucasian Mark Gastineau of the Jets in the 1980’s.

  The criticism of Newton is coming from the fact that this year he has performed at an MVP level, his team made a deep run at being undefeated, and he has been on national television more since leaving college. He was celebrating last year and the year before and no one cared because he wasn’t on national television as much. Newton also gets celebrated for handing out footballs after Panther touchdowns to little kids in the stands during home games. If he was getting any substantial criticism for his celebrations there is no way he would be a spokesman for something as wholesome as Dannon Oikos yogurt. Last I looked white people eat a lot of yogurt and Dannon Oikos is still in business so there can’t be too many racists running around complaining about Cam Newton.

  Newton has been a winner everywhere he has ever been. He was the quarterback of a junior college national champion team, a collegiate national champion, won a Heisman Trophy, and is likely to win the MVP. In this day and age success breeds contempt. That is where any criticism of Cam Newton is coming from. Tom Brady has won 4 super bowls and appeared in 2 others and the media is quick to give him criticism on anything from deflategate to his views on nutrition. If Peyton Manning was a champion like Tom Brady the HGH allegations would be taken more seriously but despite his all his records and one Super Bowl he is the type of quarterback that has come up short more often than come up big and I think that patina of being a loser is what keeps him celebrated instead of criticized. Personally I'd much rather see Newton celebrate than watch Manning endlessly point, gesticulate, and scream 'Omaha' before each and every snap.

  I guess Newton felt the same way I did since later this week when asked about being an African-American quarterback said "I don't even want to touch on the topic of black quarterback, because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green" adroitly turning the conversation away from race and towards the Super Bowl. For the most part I agree with Newton except for the game being bigger than green since green is the reason all but the official sponsors have to call it the ‘Big Game’.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers
I am amazed that the Broncos even made it to the Super Bowl but here they are with Peyton Manning leading a mistake free offense and a rock solid defense. The Panthers were no surprise to me or anyone else since they have rolled through the league on the way to a 17-1 record. Getting ahead is going to be the key to the game since the Panthers defense will tee off on Manning if he has to throw to catch up while Manning can orchestrate his mistake-free short passing and running game if the Broncos are winning.

   I am currently $50 in the red for this playoff season heading into the final game of the season so the pressure us for me to continue my 3 year playoff winning streak. I think the Panthers are going to win the game but the betting line from the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page is 4.5 which seems a little high for me so I will bet $110 to win $100 on the over of 44 points. Despite the solid defenses for both sides I like the chances of both sides finding enough big plays to get this game in the 50’s. Please keep in mind that my wagers are for entertainment purposes only with no real money being risked.

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