Football season draws to a close today as Super Bowl XLIX kicks off at 5:30 Jayhawk Time. Though for most of us our favorite NFL team has already been eliminated, didn't make the playoffs, or perhaps inked Jay Cutler to a long-term contract instead of putting together anything resembling a defense and simply imploded just a few games into the season. Regardless of your team's fate, Neilsen ratings tell us that chances are, you're watching tonight's big game.
Sadly, no former Jayhawks will be playing tonight. Denver's trio of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Steven Johnson made it the furthest, knocked out in the Divisional round by the Colts. We did get to see Harris, Talib, and San Diego safety Darrell Stuckey in the Pro Bowl last weekend, representing Kansas well. Though none of them are in tonight's game, here's a list of Big 12 players on the rosters for tonight's game who we can remember playing Kansas in the Big 12.
WR Danny Amendola - Texas Tech
WR Josh Boyce - TCU
G Marcus Cannon - TCU
CB Alfonso Dennard - Nebraska (ok, technically they're B1G, but he did play against Kansas as a Big 12 member)
RB Christine Michael - Texas A&M (played for the Aggies while they were in the Big 12)
WR Paul Richardson - Colorado (part of the team that blew the 28 point 4th quarter lead in Lawrence)
C Clint Gresham - TCU (played before TCU joined the Big 12, but I'm counting him)
C Patrick Lewis - Texas A&M (again, technically...)
T Russell Okung - Oklahoma State
DE Michael Bennett - Texas A&M
DE David King - Oklahoma
DT Kevin Williams - Oklahoma State
LB Bruce Irvin - West Virginia
S Steven Terrell - Texas A&M
S Earl Thomas - Texas
So Seattle is clearly more Big 12-heavy than New England, but is that reason enough to root for them? Are there any reasons to root against them? I'm glad you asked! Just in case you weren't sure which way to lean in tonight's game, here are some reasons to root for or against tonight's participants.
Why you should root for New England
Yes, yes, we've all heard about deflategate/ballghazi. Does anyone really think the inflation level of some footballs is the key to New England's success? Remember, Belichick/Brady won three Super Bowls last decade (in the Super Bowl, a different system is used to keep track of the footballs, and team representatives are not involved). Also, the Patriots beat the Colts in the deflategate game 45-7. I don't know how many points slightly underinflated footballs are worth over the course of a game, but I feel confident it's somewhat less than 38.
The point is, the Patriots are dynasty unlike anything we've seen in the NFL. Any other team with a similarly extended period of success has been laden with superstar talent. Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain. The 90s cowboys with Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Sanders, and a team of o-linemen whose size was unparalleled at that time. Bill Walsh's 49ers with Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott. The Patriots? Belichick and Brady have had a few great players cycle through, but their success lies largely in playing sound, mistake-free football. They're a rare dynasty built with minimal star power. Sure, there have been a couple of scandals, but this is professional sports. Find me a team where no one is breaking any rules to gain a competitive advantage. It certainly won't be the Seattle Seahawks.
Under Pete Carroll, Seattle has had a rash of PED suspensions. Which is worse, using a football that's 1 PSI under the limit, or using illegal drugs to boost your performance? Seattle is like the Oregon football program of the NFL. Arrogance, flashy uniforms, and a coach with a history of sketchy recruiting practices. Just in case you'd forgotten, Pete Carroll wasn't squeaky clean at the college level, either. It seems some of his players at USC were getting more than just a scholarship in exchange for their play, and the honorable Carroll ducked out just months before the program got hit with some pretty heavy sanctions. Sure, the Patriots have been caught in some dubious practices, but if you dislike them for this reason, does it make sense to root for Seattle instead?
Why you should root for Seattle
What, the Patriots getting caught cheating (again) isn't enough? Seattle has had a few suspensions, but the highest-profile of these (Richard Sherman's) was overturned. And what NFL team can say that no one on the roster has used a banned substance? After all, this is professional sports. As for the Seahawks on the field, they play a tough, old-school brand of football. Their defense has been out-of-this world compared to the rest of the league, and their offense is built around Marshawn Lynch and a brutal running game. They come to play, they hit hard, and they win games.
They also have some of the more entertaining personalities in the league. If you like the more clean-cut image, Russell Wilson and his American Family Insurance ads are there for you. If you like your athletes to be brash, outspoken and fun, look no further than the president of the "Legion of Boom," the Stanford-educated Richard Sherman. If you're wanting someone who plays like a monster and refuses to take the NFL (or anyone else) seriously off the field, the Seahawks would like to introduce you to Marshawn Lynch, who is just here so he won't get fined, boss.
The Seahawks are here to play good football, and have some fun. Not at all like the Patriots, who operate like a tight-lipped corporation, terrified that the public will catch wind of the atrocities that take place within the board room. Spygate and Ballghazi are only the things we know about. The Patriots are a win-at-all-cost organization who put up with Aaron Hernandez until the day he was arrested for murder. Yeah, while the Seahawks were popping some Adderall in the weight room, Aaron Hernandez was killing people (allegedly). Everyone draws the line somewhere slightly different, but I think we can all agree that Marshawn Lynch refusing to talk to the media, or Richard Sherman's endless trolling are a bit easier to swallow than premeditated homicide.
Whoever you're rooting for (or even if you're just wanting to see the commercials), you'll want to have the TV on by 5:30 this evening. The game is on NBC, and in all seriousness, should be pretty good football even if you dislike both teams.
So as kickoff approaches, keep this thread open right here at Rock Chalk Talk. Even if you don't care about the game itself, there are plenty of fun topics to discuss. What's your Super Bowl tradition? Are you going to a party to watch the game, or staying at home? Is anyone out there refusing to watch the game? Then there's my favorite topic of discussion on Super Bowl Sunday, food. What's your favorite game snack? Does anyone have any good recipes to share?
If you live in the KC area, you aren't going outside today anyway. Spend Super Bowl Sunday right here!