Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Native American Inspiration for Seahawks Logo

NFC Champions

Seattle Seahawks

More than most NFL logos, the Seahawks log always made an me impression on me. There is an angry, yet somewhat passive, look to the bird's face on the older version of the logo. The beak pulled down, the Seahawk looked somewhat fierce, yet it retained much more of a traditional native feel than the logo that would soon follow.

It always looked cool to me, and I remember as a kid, Seattle was considered a tough place to play, with a reputation as the loudest stadium in the country. That somewhat mean, yet mysterious, looking logo rather contributed to the feeling that your team was going to have a hard time winning at Seattle.

The Seahawks changed the logo, and the team colors, following the 2001 season. They had a new look, and the logo was considerably different, looking far more fierce than the previous logo, yet retaining enough of the traditional native roots, that little, if anything, was lost in the transition. However, the uniforms were pretty boring, and probably qualified as the worst uniforms in the league, frankly. More recently, following the 2011 season, the franchise changed the uniforms again, altering the logo again, although not in any major way this time. Now, the team sported navy blue uniforms from top to bottom in their home games, with some neon green highlights, and these looked really awesome! Admittedly, the white jerseys with white pants uniforms look pretty boring, but when they wear those dark blue pants with their white jersey, the uniforms look pretty sleak!

As usual, success makes uniforms look all the more appealing, and the new Seahawks uniform, which I was admittedly luke warm towards initially, now looks pretty damn solid!

Also, seeing the team reminds me so much of my pleasant memories of the city of Seattle in particular, and the Pacific Northwest more generally, that I have a hard time rooting against them. I have been pulling for them most of this season, impressed with the uniforms, their old school reliance on defense and a cloud of dust, and, yes, their success. Also, not least of all, their obvious ties to the beautiful city of Seattle.

Being privileged enough to go on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, and to Seattle in particular, back in the late nineties, gave me a new appreciation for the region. By then, of course, the Seattle music scene had exploded into national prominence, and everything associated with the city was consider really cool. A lot of that died of a bit over the course of several years, but it has largely been considered a hip place ever since.

I loved Seattle. Going there made me appreciate the reality of the city so much more than what I had heard. Prior to going there, I always had thought of it as a blue collar town, a city of grey and bleak weather, and I had assumed it was a lot colder than it actually wound up being. The weather while we were there in May could not have been more accommodating, and it was the perfect setting for being able to appreciate the abundance of natural beauty of the surrounding region, which is so green, yet has striking, snow-capped mountain ranges spanning pretty much all directions. I learned a tremendous amount about volcanoes (the movie Dante's Peak released earlier in the year had also helped to trigger this fascination), which was a learning experience for me. Seattle as a city was pretty cool, too, and the Space Needle and the surrounding area reminded me somewhat of a more modern version of the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars in Paris. Needless to say, I fell in love with Seattle, and could not help but dream of making a move there.

We visited Seattle and the region again in October of 2001, and this time, the weather was a lot less accommodating. Yet, I was starting to know what to expect, and began to explore certain other elements of the region, particularly the presence of the native culture. We visited Vancouver, a few hours north, and I fell in love with that city, too, and tinkered with the idea of a move there, as well. Specifically, I loved the mountains, and began to fall in love with the totem poles, having seen those at Stanley Park.

It was then that I truly got the sense of the connection with the Seahawks logo to the traditional native culture of the region, and a newfound appreciation for the Seahawks, and what they meant to Seattle, and the surrounding area.

I meant to explore where the logo specifically came from, but never really did. Not, at least, until I ran into an article in Yahoo Sports recently, on the occasion of the Seahawks making their second straight trip to the Super Bowl, as defending champions with the rare chance to repeat.

So, where exactly did the idea for the logo originate? Well, as it turns out, that is an interesting question, and here is at least part of the possible answer:

Specifically, it's believed the Seahawks logo is derived from a photo in a 1950 book, "Art of the Northwest Coast Indians." That photo depicts a "transformation mask" of an eagle (or "thunderbird"), which opens up to reveal a human face. The mask is from the Kwakwaka'wakw nation, but it's not known exactly which family.

Indeed, I saw the resemblance of the logo to some of the totem poles that I saw, and this made me appreciate the idea behind the logo so much more. Far more than the supposed respect for native culture that another franchise in the NFL loudly proclaims, despite the controversy regarding whether that franchises's name is offensive and insulting as a racial slur is concerned, the Seahawks had a more subtle, but much more honorable and flattering, tribute to the native culture that had been such a prominent part of the region's past, and still had a stronger presence in the modern day than what can often be seen or is available back east.

It began to be another aspect of Pacific Northwest culture that I admired, and found fascinating.

In any case, here is an article that expands on this theme of where exactly the logo for the Seattle Seahawks came from, and I recommend it!

Inspiration for Seahawks logo visits Seattle with assist from Patriots fan By Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports, January 28, 2015:

Favorite Super Bowl Memories

The Super Bowl is kind of my thing, or at least, one of the things that I'm very much into. I certainly don't love the NFL to the exclusion of other sports, or anything. But ever since I was a little kid, younger than my own son is right now as I write this, I was taken in by the NFL, and particularly by the Super Bowl.

To be sure, there are some things that I am not so thrilled with. Not a big fan of the nationalism that sometimes borders on xenophobia that is unfortunately too often on prominent display, even too often seemingly officially sanctioned by the league. That I can do without.

Also, the NFL seems to have gotten too heavily swayed by the corporate feel that has unfortunately swept the nation, and indeed, much of the world. You might think that sports would be relatively exempt from that, but you would be wrong. Far from being exempt, sports is often where the ridiculous excesses of our corporate culture are on most obvious display. There are advertisements everywhere you go, there are fluff stories that the press puts out, there is price gauging on a massive scale (and it seems that it may finally be impacting ticket sales, as I recently put up a blog entry on an article revealing that three of the four teams hosting wild card games a couple of weeks ago were struggling to sell out their tickets). Player salaries are completely out of control in far too many cases.

These problems are certainly not unique to football. In fact, I'm not even sure the worst of it is in NFL football, where there are generally more players on teams than in other sports, making incredibly huge salaries for one or two players virtually impossible. Some basketball salaries are preposterously high. And baseball, with "role models" like A-Rod "earning" a quarter of a billion dollars?

Nah. All of that is a big turn-off. Hell, it's certainly not restricted to North American sports, either. The salaries for, say, mega stars in soccer (elsewhere it is rightfully known as football) are also just as outrageous, as well.

There are other problems with sports, as well. We surely all know a few sports nuts who seem to revolve their lives around sports. Overgrown children who, when they are not playing video games, are either watching sports or sports highlights, and/or perhaps listening to sports radio. In some cases of people that I know, or have known, personally, there are some guys who's only reading are sports articles. Anyone walking through an NFL Stadium parking lot before game time, and seeing some of the sports nuts who go to extremes in decorating their cars and wearing the latest team gear, and otherwise finding any and all possible ways to display their team loyalty. Sometimes, they appear to be living, walking, talking billboards - when they are not too inebriated, that is.

All that said, sports can be good. I enjoy playing them and, although my enthusiasm for needing to watch the game every Sunday has died down considerably, I can still get into it from time to time.

And the Super Bowl was one thing that, no matter what, I really enjoy following and watching, and have done so since Super Bowl XVI. It just seems to me that the Super Bowl offers a little something that the championships in other sports generally do not. The only single event that can rival it is the World Cup (of soccer), but that only happens ever four years. Also, since it happens so infrequently, there is not quite as much of a chance to develop rivalries on a championship level, like there are in some of the other sports. Perhaps in league play there would be, but it appears also that there are multiple distinctions that you can earn in individual leagues in Europe, and that the regular season plays a far more important role than it does in the NFL (which can be both good and bad). In basketball, baseball, and hockey, you do have strong rivalries. But you also have series. If your team makes it to the finals, and then wins the first game, they still have three more to win. Not every game will necessarily be fascinating, either. Too many games can kind of get in the way, sometimes.

The Super Bowl brings it all together in one shot. The two teams that survived to that point play in a winner takes all game. One mistake, or one huge play, can turn the tide of the game. Thus, the importance of every moment is greatly magnified. Everything is tremendously enhanced, and that makes it captivating.

Of course, the NFL playoffs are like that, and in this case, their is a major sports tournament that also captivates people for the same reason. That would be the March Madness college basketball tournament in March. But there is not quite as much emphasis on the final game in that tournament. Most people come up with their brackets, and then look for the big upset, like Lehigh upsetting Duke a couple of years ago. I remember Duke also enjoying their own spectacular upset over previously undefeated UNLV back in 1991, when UNLV had seemed destined to win the whole thing, and be remembered as the most dominant team in NCAA history ever. You never know what is going to happen.

But, of course, that is a college sport. Sometimes, when you watch college basketball, you can see the difference in terms of speed and talent from the pros. These can be exploited when the better teams play the weaker teams. For example, Lehigh may have managed to upend Duke, but they were not good enough to win their very next game, and so were knocked out of the tournament, which might suggest that they were simply lucky, and that their luck ran out in the second game.

In the NFL, there are also upsets like that. You just never know these days when a seemingly weak and overlooked team like, say, the 2008 Arizona Cardinals are going to get hot and just take off. They were underdogs week in and week out, but they just kept winning, and almost won the Super Bowl!

That was Super Bowl XLIII, and I would indeed rate that as one of the very finest Super Bowls. Perhaps the finest was the one that came before that, when the Giants, like Duke in 1991, knocked off the undefeated Patriots, who like UNLV in 1991, were expected to be considered the greatest team in league history.

Now, here's the thing: as a Giants fan, you might expect me to pick my favorite Super Bowl memory as that one.

But it's not. In fact, my favorite memory is a Giants Super Bowl win, but it goes back to 1991 itself. The Giants were struggling towards the end of the 1990 season, and some were beginning to think that they might get knocked out of the playoffs right away. When they finally hosted the Bears, they demolished them, 31-3. But that earned them a trip back to San Francisco, where they had lost only a month or so before, to the dynasty Niners, who were famously trying to three-peat. San Francisco was favored, of course. But the Giants kept up with them in what I still think may have been the most intense football game that I ever saw, with both team physically and mentally pounding on one another. The defenses were two of the best in the league that year, even though the 49ers were more famous for their offense. Only one touchdown was scored the entire afternoon, and that was by San Francisco. But the Giants settled for field goals, for the safe points, all the way through, and it was enough to put them in position for a winning field goal as time expired. Down 13-12 on the final play, Matt Bahr kicked his team into the Super Bowl, setting up my favorite Super Bowl memory:

1. Super Bowl XXV - Buffalo had perhaps the hottest offense in the league in the 1990 season, and they were on fire in the playoffs, beating Miami 44-34 in a game that was not as close as the score would suggest, and then simply overwhelming the hapless Raiders, 51-3, to earn the right to qualify for the Super Bowl, their first ever. The Giants, in the meanwhile, had barely squeaked by, and so the Bills were strongly favored. They had also already beaten the Giants at Giants Stadium just a month before. Things were not looking good. But Parcells had a ball control strategy to keep Buffalo's hot offense off the field, and it worked wonderfully, keeping the Giants in a game against a team that I can now admit was the better team on the field that day. Physically, the Giants pounded Buffalo, keeping the ball for a record 40:27, and making sure the receivers on the Bills paid for every catch that they made, ever route that they ran. It was a very physical game. It also was a contrast in styles, and became rather like a chess match. Both teams had enjoyed their runs at points in the game, and both teams made some spectacular plays. In the end, it came down to two minutes, with the Giants up by a single point, 20-19, and the Bills driving to try and win it. Fittingly, it came down to what both units were best known for: Buffalo's offense versus New York's defense. The Bills had a pretty good drive, and got to field goal range. Then, of course, came the famous moment. Scott Norwood trotted onto the field for a 47-yard field goal attempt. He kicked it strong enough, and it had the distance. But it was wide right by maybe two feet, and that was enough to secure the Giants their second Super Bowl victory in five seasons. An incredible memory that still resonates with me more than either of their two most recent Super Bowl wins, and that is why I give it the top spot.

2. Super Bowl XLII - I'm sorry. This is unfair. But I am a Giants fan, and they did play some very good Super Bowls. That included Super Bowl XXV, which i already listed. But that also includes the rivalry with the New England Patriots. And out of those two games, Super Bowl XLII was the best. I mean, the Patriots were undefeated, and many had already designated them the best team of all time. More points than any team had ever scored before. More touchdowns passes thrown by a quarterback (Tom Brady). On average, a greater margin of victory against their opponents than any team had ever enjoyed before in history. And just one game away from football immortality. But the Giants pass rush brutalized Brady and the Patriots, and allowed New York to hang in there, effectively shutting down that historic New England offense. And then, of course, that very memorable fourth quarter, with the Giants taking the lead with a Dave Tyree touchdown catch early in the fourth, to give the Giants the lead at 10-7. New England responded, with a very strong drive capped with a Brady to Moss TD pass with a couple of minutes left, retaking the lead, 14-10. Then, the final drive, with the Giants marching down the field. That memorable pass, when Manning got out of a sure sack, to complete a wobbly pass to Tyree, which might just be the most famous pass in NFL history, and certainly is in Super Bowl history. Capping that with a touchdown pass from Manning to Burress, for another Giants lead, at 17-14. Then, the Giants "D" shutting down the Patriots offense in the final minute, to secure the improbable victory. What an unbelievable Super Bowl! It reinforced why people watch this game in particular, because anything can happen on this day. 

3. Super Bowl XXX - I am trying not to fill this list up too much with the Giants. My very favorite memory was, indeed, Norwood's miss giving the Giants the Super Bowl title. But after that, the Giants winning Super Bowl XXI, their first ever, or beating the unbeaten Pats for their third Super Bowl title, or then beating them again for their fourth just a couple of years ago, would begin to sound repetitive. So, let me go to my favorite Super Bowl not involving the Giants. Super Bowl XXX was awesome, because it reignited an old Super Bowl rivalry - probably the greatest rivalry in the history of the Super Bowl: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. It was a really great match-up, although everyone assumed the Cowboys would win. The setting for the game was beautiful, in the warm, desert sunshine of Arizona. The Cowboys dictated the tempo early and often, and it looked like they were capable of blowing out Pittsburgh. But the Steel Curtain held the Cowboys in terms of point, bending but not breaking, and allowing an O'Donnell pass to Thigpen just before the half allowing the Steelers to jump right back in the game. Dallas got a touchdown early in the second half, but in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh got a field goal, then recovered an onside kick, to give themselves a chance. They capitalized, with a touchdown, and the momentum was all Pittsburgh. When they stopped Dallas on the next possession, and got the ball back, it was starting to get really interesting. But, then O'Donnell threw that interception right to Larry Brown of the Cowboys, and Dallas sealed the deal with an Emmitt Smith touchdown late in the fourth. Still, not a bad game, and a wonderful Super Bowl in terms of match-up and aesthetics.

4. Super Bowl XXXII - Another great Super Bowl match-up, pitting two of the top quarterbacks of all time: Brett Favre and John Elway. The Green Bay Packers were the league's superpower by the 1997 season, having won the prior Super Bowl, and then impressively dominating through the NFC Playoffs to earn the right to represent the dominant NFC in Super Bowl XXXII. Remember that at this point, the NFC had won thirteen consecutive Super Bowls, and it was an automatic that the AFC team was deemed inferior. In Particular, Denver had lost their previous four Super Bowls, and were symbolic of the AFC's recent Super Bowl failures. But the Broncos that season were different, with a dominant running game, behind a gritty offensive line, and the legs of Terrell Davis. This one, too, was in the warm sunshine of southern California, so it looked very nice. The Packers looked like they might just prove everyone right, and make short work of the Broncos, with an early touchdown drive that was pure artistry, and they made it look too easy. But Denver responded, big time, getting a touchdown drive of their own. They then completely outplayed Green Bay for the almost the entire rest of the half, taking a 17-7 lead. But Green Bay managed to get a touchdown just before the half, to make it a close game. The second half went back and forth, with Green Bay tying, then Denver reclaiming the lead. It went like that until very late in the fourth, when Denver was deep in Green Bay territory, and the Packers infamously allowed Davis to get a quick touchdown, in order to give their offense time to work, just to get an opportunity. Green Bay did get the ball, and moved it for a while, too. But Denver's defense tightened, and forced a fourth and long. When it was deflected, and the ball fell harmlessly incomplete, the Broncos had pulled off a stunner in a classic, and very memorable shootout. 

5. Super Bowl XXXVIII - This one tends to be underrated. People forgot just how well these two teams played on this day. Perhaps a part of it, too, was that the game was kind of overshadowed by the "wardrobe malfunction" of the halftime show, when Janet Jackson's very brief (and incomplete) boob exposure took center stage. But the game itself was a lassic, with the upstart Carolina Panthers, just two seasons removed from a 1-15 season, had an amazing run through the NFC playoffs, and took on the heavily favored New England Patriots. It was scoreless through the entire first quarter, and even well into the second, with storng defensive efforts by both teams. But then, there was a foreshadowing of events to come, as the two teams combined for an explosive flurry of points just before the half. New England led, 14-10, Then, it became another defensive, strategic stalemate in the third quarter, with no points scored. But the fourth quarter was the most explosive in Super Bowl history, and the two teams just kept scoring points, and testing each other to the limit. Carolina crawled their way back from a 21-10 deficit to roar back to life, and the Patriots suddenly were reeling. New England managed a touchdown, but Carolina still managed to tie it at 29-29. But the Patriots, with very little time left on the clock, had the opportunity to move the ball, much like they had two years before against the St. Louis Rams. They positioned themselves into field goal range, and also, just like two years before, Adam Vinatieri calmly kicked the ball through the uprights to give the Patriots another Super Bowl victory with virtually no time left. It was New England's second title in three years, and they would hang on and win again the next year, earning the right to be recognized as a dynasty.

So, I have to say that today's game could end up being a classic. it is a classic contrast in styles, and it also features two very strong, and seemingly evenly matched teams. Both have played very well all season, and both seem ready to play exceptionally well for this Super Bowl. Of course, that does not guarantee a great Super Bowl, but it also certainly doesn't hurt. I'm sticking with my prediction that the Broncos will win. But I also think that this could be a very close game, and could well qualify as one of the all-time great Super Bowls! Let's hope it's a great game, and I hope all of you enjoy it!

Top Ten Super Bowls Ever

It's Super Bowl weekend, and so, I will dedicate several posts throughout the week to the big game that comes every winter.

As a New Jersey boy, growing up as a Giants fan, I was thrilled when Big Blue won not one, but two Super Bowls. As a fan, that second title was especially sweet, because it came not only against a pretty big favorite, the Buffalo Bills (remember, that was their first Super Bowl, before they had established themselves as the team that can't win the big one, and the Bills entered that Super Bowl looking like the dominant team in the league), but the Giants scraped by and hung on in a game that was, by any measure, one of the most well played games, with a very exciting finish.

When I got the video yearbook some weeks later, having seen the Sports Illustrated commercials with highlights from that video, and urging viewers to subscribe now so you could get the video for free, it boldly suggested that Super Bowl XXV was "the greatest Super Bowl ever".

As much as I wanted to believe this, it seemed a bit premature. Yes, even to a sixteen year old boy.

Since then, of course, a lot of people have largely forgotten it, because their have been some other very exciting Super Bowls since, and a couple that included the Giants. But I still think very highly of it, and not just as a Giants fan, either. That said, I would not rank it as "the greatest", although it would rank very near the top.

Recently, I found out that I actually have some kind of NFL channel, although I am not entirely sure it is the famous NFL network itself. They had a program on that ranked, from their viewpoint, the greatest ever Super Bowls. The top two Super Bowls ever, according to them, were predictable: Super Bowl XLII (Giants vs. Patriots), and Super Bowl XLIII (Steelers vs. Cardinals), which rated number one. I did not agree with this specific order, although I also would place these two as the top two (ironically, they came back-to-back).

Now, they had some choices that I really disagreed with. I mean Super Bowl XXXIV (Rams vs. Titans) did not even make the list, yet Super Bowl XLIV (Saints vs. Colts) did. A Super Bowl that was well-played by both teams and had one of the most exciting ending sever was beaten out by one that, ultimately, was decided by a mistake from one of the greatest quarterbacks to have played the game, Peyton Manning, as he threw to a wide open Saints defender, Tracy Porter, who ran it 74 yards, all the way back for a pick six that iced it for New Orleans. It was not a bad game, but sorry, it should not rank as one of the top ten Super Bowls of all time.

So, here is my list of the best ever Super Bowls, as well as why. For extra added measure, I made a shorter list of the five worst ever Super Bowl, also with descriptions as to why I rank them that ways.

Without further ado, here is the list.

 Top Ten Greatest Super Bowls Ever:

1. Super Bowl XLII - The Giants were the biggest underdog winner in the Super Bowl winner since the Jets in Super Bowl III. New England entered the game undefeated, and many already were hailing them as the greatest team of all time. Indeed, not only had they won every single one of their games to that point, but they had done so with a wider average margin of victory than any other team, scoring more points than any team in NFL history, as well. They were an offensive machine, and Tom Brady had perhaps the best season of any NFL quarterback in history, throwing a record 50 touchdown passes, to only eight interceptions on the year. But the Giants defense gave him a tough time in the regular season finale, a thriller won by the Patriots, 38-35, to clinch the perfect 16-0 season. In the rematch in the Super Bowl, the enormity of the game was clear right from the get go. Either the Patriots would make history by completing their perfect season at 19-0, and effectively clinching that vaunted title as the NFL's "greatest team ever", or the Giants would pull off one of the greatest upsets in history. New York's defense really roughed up Brady and the Pats, and held them to the lowest total points of the season. Yet, New England's defense played extremely well also, and this was a closely fought Super Bowl from beginning to end. The very high stakes made it all the more thrilling, and the fourth quarter was one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, in Super Bowl history. The miracle play that seemed to clinch it for the Giants was perhaps the greatest and most memorable play in Super Bowl history, and perhaps even NFL history: Eli Manning breaking away from numerous New England defenders, somehow escaping a sure sack, and completing to Dave Tyree, who caught one-handed the most memorable pass he would ever get. The Giants get the victory, 17-14, in a game that will surely be remembered for a very long time. one of the few Super Bowls that actually exceeded expectations and the very lofty billing! It was the very enormity of this game, as well as how thrilling it was, that ranks this as the greatest ever Super Bowl (for me, at least).

2. Super Bowl XLIII - The Cardinals were one of the worst franchises in sports history going into this game, and despite winning the NFC West in a weak year, they were not actually expected to do anything in the playoffs. Yet, they beat Atlanta in the Wildcard, then shocked Carolina in the divisional round, before eking out a win against the Philadelphia Eagles. But the Steelers were expected to make short work of them, having won the Super Bowl three seasons earlier, and seeming to be far better, and with superior experience to boot. Most of the game, this is exactly what seemed to be happening, to boot. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals mounted a furious comeback rally, taking the lead late in the fourth, and were on the verge of their first ever Super Bowl title, which would have been a huge upset. But Pittsburgh, which had been thorough (but not spectacular) to that point, drove down the field, and Roethlisberger took a shot at the end zone, rather than settling for a field goal that would have tied it. It was a brilliant touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes, and gave the Steelers their record sixth Super Bowl championship in thrilling, come from behind fashion, 27-23!

3. Super Bowl XXV - This was the first ever postseason game without a turnover. Both teams played extremely well, and underscored why exactly they were in the Super Bowl to begin with. Parcells, the Giants head coach, came up with an effective strategy to slow the very potent, and peaking, Bills offense, by essentially icing them keeping them off the field, as the Giants offense controlled the ball, and the clock, for a record amount of time and an obviously lopsided time of possession advantage of over 2 to 1. Still, so good were the Bills, that they very well came close to winning, anyway. No major mistakes by either team, and both teams showed some of their best football, in a game filled with highlight reels by both teams. An extremely well-played, championship level game by both teams, and it came down to the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Scott Norwood's 47-yard attempt sailed wide right (barely), securing the victory for the Giants, and handed the Bills the toughest Super Bowl loss to that point in history (topped since by the Patriots loss in Super Bowl XLII, I think). Hard to top Super Bowl XXV, although perhaps the Giants themselves did (as did the Steelers), in future Super Bowls.

4. Super Bowl XXXVIII - Perhaps the best played game by both teams in Super Bowl history. This one had a little bit of everything. It was a scoreless, defensive struggle through most of the first half, and then both teams exploded for points just before the half, in a thrilling way. Then, the tough, defensive battle resumed, before one of the most exciting fourth quarters ever, in any game that I have watched. Very well played by both teams, and this one came down to the final seconds, with New England securing it on a field goal by Adam Vinatieri, for the second time in three seasons. Truly, a great and memorable Super Bowl!

5. Super Bowl XXIII - This was the first ever Super Bowl to offer a truly thrilling finish to a well-played game by both teams. The upstart Cincinnati Bengals seemed to be outplaying San Francisco for most of the game, up until the late fourth quarter, as they hoped to cling to their narrow 16-13 lead. But then came cool Joe Montana, leading his team down the field to victory. Jerry Rice had continually burned the Bengals, but their focus on him probably left John Taylor alone too much, and he caught the winning touchdown pass by Montana in the end zone to clinch the 20-16, come from behind win for the 49ers, who also clinched "Team of the Decade" honors with this thrilling victory!

6. Super Bowl XXXIV - The Rams and Titans played a game that was mostly interesting in the fourth quarter. But what a fourth quarter it was! Up to that point, it was not that exciting. The Rams had moved the ball up and down the field, yet this did not translate to many points, as they kept having to settle for field goals. The Titans defense really played well, and kept Tennessee in the game. When the Titans finally came alive on offense deep in the second half, they mounted a furious comeback, managing to overcome a 16-0 deficit to tie it late in the fourth. But the potent Rams offense managed to get a quick strike touchdown, as Kurt Warner, NFL and Super Bowl MVP that season, found Isaac Bruce in a deep pass that gave the Rams a 23-16 lead with very little time remaining. Still, the Titans, behind quarterback Steve McNair and running back Eddie George, moved the ball back down the field, and were in scoring position. They fell short, famously, by one yard, on the game's final play, which had everybody on their feet and gasping. A very exciting play, and a Super Bowl where both teams showcased their talents. This one is underrated!

7. Super Bowl XXXII - One of the best matchups of great quarterbacks ever, as Brett Favre and John Elway led their respective teams on the sunny field in San Diego, in what ended up as a classic! What made this more thrilling was that it did not follow the script. The NFC had a thirteen game winning steak in Super Bowls, but the AFC champs, who were best known for always losing their Super Bowls, managed to pull off a win and snap the dreadful AFC losing streak against the defending champion Packers. Despite this being Elway's first Super Bowl win, the Broncos actually did not really need him so much, as MVP Terrell Davis and the Denver offensive line controlled the seemingly powerful Packer defense, which was overmatched on this day. A thrilling Super Bowl from beginning to end, that went down to the final minutes of the final quarter. It is often overlooked now, but right after this one ended, everyone was claiming this to be the best Super Bowl ever. Denver wins, 31-24.

8. Super Bowl III - Not a close game, I know. But let us not forget that this was the one that made the Super Bowl what it is. A huge upset by the upstart Jets, the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, established the AFL (soon to be the AFC following the 1970 merger) as legitimate. In truth, the Chiefs would win the following Super Bowl in much more convincing, dominating fashion, and it felt like less of a fluke than the Jets Super Bowl III win. Still, the Jets were the first team to do it, and it proved such a huge upset, that it is remembered even to the present day. Not the most thrilling game in terms of competitiveness or last minute thrills, but it was huge for every other reason, and really made the Super Bowl something that everyone wanted to watch.

9. Super Bowl XIII - The first truly exciting Super Bowl featured the first ever rematch in Super Bowl history, and established the Steelers-Cowboys rivalry as one of the greatest in NFL history! It went back and forth throughout the first half, but a missed catch in the end zone by Jackie Smith of the Dallas Cowboys proved very costly. The Steelers took full advantage, and asserted themselves, seemingly clinching it, as they took a 35-17 lead. Most of the press assumed Pittsburgh had already won it. Yet, the Cowboys mounted a surprising comeback, and seemed to make this a more exciting game than most expected. The Steelers ultimately won, 35-31, and clinched "Team of the Decade" honors. Still, the dropped touchdown pass by Jackie Smith would have given the Cowboys those four points, and this might have been a different game entirely, leaving Dallas fans to wonder what might have been.

10. Super Bowl XXXVI - The Patriots and Rams actually played a couple of months before, in a game that I attended, up in Foxboro. The Patriots were expected to lose, and did. The St. Louis Rams were the "greatest show on turf", after all. So, it was not surprising that they were heavy favorites when these two teams hooked up for the Super Bowl. Their offense was a well-oiled machine, and they were expected to make short work of the upstart Patriots. Yet, New England's defense frustrated the Rams all day, and entering the final period, the potent St. Louis offense, already hailed as possibly the greatest ever to that point, had a whopping three points total. But the Rams came alive, and mounted a huge comeback, scoring two quick touchdowns to tie it at 17-17. Belichick and Brady went for the win with very little time left, rather than running out the clock and heading for overtime. Good thing for them that they did not play it safe, as they got into field goal range. Vinatieri's kick sailed through the uprights on the final play of the game, and New England got their first ever Super Bowl victory, 20-17, the first title of the three that they would get in a four season span. It was the biggest upset up to that point since the Jets win in Super Bowl III!

Worst Super Bowls Ever:

1. Super Bowl XL - The Pittsburgh Steelers had an incredible run to the championship in the 2005-06 playoffs. Too bad they played so uninspired in the Super Bowl. Yet, they still won, because Seattle played even worse. This Super Bowl was dull, devoid of any real feeling of intensity or excitement, from a fan's perspective. Mistakes, such as dropped passes and missed opportunities, filled this game up, and made it a snoozer by both teams. Poorly played and without much drama means this was the worst Super Bowl ever, in my opinion.

2. Super Bowl XXIV - Seriously, this one followed the script a little too closely. The 49ers were at the height of their powers, defending champs, and 3-0 overall in Super Bowls entering the game. The Denver Broncos were AFC Champs for the third time in four years, playing well enough to win to that point, but not convincing anyone that they were ready for the 49ers. The big game confirmed all of the worst suspicions, and was over early. Any last remaining bit of drama was over late in the second quarter, when Denver, trailing 20-3, allowed yet another touchdown, and retreated to the locker room down 27-3. Final score, 55-10. Boring.

3. Super Bowl XX - Much like the 1989 49ers, the 1985 Bears, usually considered the greatest team ever by experts, were expected to make short work of the upstart Patriots. Much like the 1989 49ers, they followed through on those expectations, and then some, in a game that was over well before halftime. New England was completely overmatched and dominated, generating very little excitement, as the Bears took care of business in every facet of the game. The only time the game was really ever in doubt (and it was brief) came in the opening minutes, when Chicago turned the ball over deep in their own territory. The Patriots could not move the bal, but were so close, they got the field goal for an early lead - the only lead they would see all day. And they were extremely lucky to have gotten that much! The 1985 Bears were indeed the greatest team ever, by my estimation, but it certainly did not make for a riveting Super Bowl. They won, 46-10, but had clinched the win well before halftime, for all intents and purposes.

4. Super Bowl XXXV - The 2000 Baltimore Ravens probably had the greatest defense in history, and that during an age when the league (and their rules) favored offenses. Baltimore's defense, I think, overtook the '85 Bears as the greatest ever, although their offense was not nearly as good as those Bears. Baltimore completely shut down opponents that season, and that included the New York Giants, who became only the second team in Super Bowl history to have been shut out offensively (their lone touchdown came on special teams). Baltimore's offense was not spectacular, yet they won the battle sufficiently against the New York defense, and this game was never really in doubt. I am a Giants fan, but they did not belong on the same team as the Ravens on that day. Baltimore wins, 34-7.

5. Super Bowl XXVII - The Buffalo Bills had lost the previous two Super Bowls, while the Cowboys were a young tam clearly on the rise. The question was whether Buffalo could utilize their superior experience, and perhaps capitalize on the possible nervousness some expected on the part of the Dallas Cowboys. The answer was no. Buffalo did take an early lead off of a huge Dallas mistake, to go up early, 7-0. But the Cowboys came back, scoring two touchdowns in mere seconds, to take a 14-7 lead. Later in the half, with Dallas leading 14-10, they scored two touchdowns within seconds of each other again, to expand the lead to 28-10 entering the half. The second half was more of the same, as the Cowboys capitalized on a record nine turnover by the Bills, for an easy 52-17 win, and handing Buffalo their third straight defeat. The following year, they would make it four in a row, as the two teams had a rematch (surprisingly, the only time in Super Bowl history that the same two teams made it in back-to-back seasons) that nobody wanted to see.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winningest NHL Goalie Ever Brodeur Retires & Joins Front Office for St. Louis Blues

I remember when Martin Brodeur was just a young kid, first making impressions in the early nineties. He had a breakout season in 1994, the year that the Devils looked suddenly awesome during the regular season, and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, taking a 3 games to 2 lead against the Rangers, and having an opportunity to close the series out at home in the Brendan Byrne Arena, seemingly on the cusp of a shocking, and historic, Stanley Cup Finals appearance!

That was the legendary game when Mark Messier of the Rangers predicted that New York world win, and when he himself scored a hat trick in the final period to help lift the Rangers from a two-goal deficit to win the game and force a decisive Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. The Devils and Rangers fought a fierce battle in that one, too, but ultimately, New York won that, to qualify for their first Stanley Cup Finals in a decade and a half, which they ultimately won, their first Cup in 54 years.

The Devils looked pretty subpar the next season, a strike-shortened one. They were only the fifth seed, and nothing really seemed to make them stand out in any real way.

Until the playoffs, when they suddenly looked highly charged, storming past one opponent after another, and this time, winning the Eastern Conference Finals against yet another heated rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. I was at the deciding Game 6, and it was truly awesome!

New Jersey, for the first time ever, had a professional sports franchise in the finals, and the Devils shockingly swept the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings to hoist their first Cup ever!

They had a stifling defense, but it was the goaltending of Brodeur that really made it all stand up, and allowed New Jersey to enjoy the level of success that they would have in the following years.

New Jersey would not enjoy a successful season the following year, but from the 1996-97 season until the 1998-99 season, the Devils followed a pattern that another of my favorite teams, the DePaul Blue Demons, would have been familiar with: a dominant regular season where they were easily tops in the East, only to exit early from the playoffs. I remember one headline reading, "On the Road to the Cup, Devils Take First Exit."

Somehow, however, the Devils came to life again in the 2000 playoffs, once against as the fifth or so seed, if memory serves me correctly. Once again, it was the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Devils faced a 3 games to 1 margin. But they erupted, winning the remaining three games to stun Philadelphia, and head towards their second Stanley Cup Finals ever. They defeated the defending Cup Champions, the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2, to hoist the Cup for the second time in franchise history.

They reached the Cup finals again in 2001, and after an epic seven-game series against the Colorado Avalanche, they ultimately fell just short in their quest to repeat.

But they made it again in 2003, and once again, the series went the distance. This time, however, the Devils won in a series where each team won their home games. The Devils defeated the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in that final game, to hoist their third Cup in nine seasons - pretty much a dynasty!

They enjoyed success in the following seasons, although nothing like what they had enjoyed in those championship years.

Still, along the way, Brodeur had become a legendary goalie with a ton of accomplishments to his credit! He became the winningest goalie ever, with the most career wins and career shut outs. The Devils reached the Stanley Cup Finals again in 2012, but lost to the very tough Los Angeles Kings, the dominant team of that year. However, New Jersey played well and had a strong showing, despite falling behind 3 games to 0. They won Game 4 on the road, then handed the Kings their only road playoff defeat of the playoffs in the next game, to make it interesting at 3 games to 2, before bowing to the champions in Game 6.

By then, age was becoming an issue. He had been at it for a very long time. Yet, he wanted to continue, despite the Devils increasingly leaning more in favor of a younger goalie.

Eventually, he left the Devils, something that I hoped he was never going to do. He went to the St. Louis Blues, and became a goalie (not the goalie). He added a few more games, including a few wins. But hardly anyone will remember his career for those few games with the Blues. His shining moment in time was with the Devils, without question.

At least as a player. He will not be involved in decision making on a managerial level for the Blues, however. And I wish him well. A great era for hockey goaltending has now come to an end. He will be remembered fondly.

Brodeur to retire, join St. Louis Blues front office By R.B. FALLSTROM (AP Sports Writer), January 28, 2015:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

DePaul Basketball

I do not even remember when I became a fan of DePaul men's basketball, or even why, exactly. There were a number of variables but, ultimately, I did become a fan.

When I was a kid, they were a lot better and far more relevant than they have been in recent years. That was a DePaul squad that knew what they were doing. They were ranked number 2, and always seemed to be on the verge of great things.

Of course, I was a bit too young to understand every aspect of how college basketball worked, and do not remember watching the March Madness games, where DePaul had the rather dubious distinction of being one of the highly rated teams, one of the heavy favorites, that wound up being bounced out in their first game for several consecutive seasons.

Still, they were a very good team back then with serious national championship relevance, and were always in the conversation. They sent some players to the NBA, and had a legendary coach in Ray Meyer.

That was when I got into DePaul basketball, and there were several factors for why I got into them. They had cool looking uniforms, and the lettering of the name "DePaul" looked unique and cool, as did the squares or rectangles running down the side of their uniforms. Also, I liked that they wore predominately blue uniforms.

Those were all some of the reasons why, almost inexplicably, I began to follow DePaul basketball.

Those games were also the way that I began to be acclimated to basketball, at a time when sports meant NFL football (especially the New York Giants) and WWF Wrestling, back when they could still legally call themselves the WWF.

So, they were a fairly big deal.

Yet, eventually, I stopped following them for a long time. When I began to get into basketball again, it was the pros. The NBA. College could be intriguing, particularly the single elimination games of March Madness.

But as for following DePaul?

Yeah, not so much.

Then, many, many years later, when I was an adult with a kid of my own, I began, almost inexplicably, to get back into DePaul basketball again.

Don't get me wrong: they were always my favorite college basketball team. But it was from a distance. Then, they were on television (forget who they were playing against), and the commentators were saying that they had suffered through some miserable times, but had now started to put some solid pieces together to become a quality team again.

It did not last, but watching them again kind of got me back into them. I began to search for opportunities to see them, and even began to look for opportunities to get tickets to see the team in person.

Eventually, I did see them in person, going to a game hosted by Seton Hall a couple of years ago.

Kept looking for chances to go to another game since, as well.

And finally got the chance when, once again, Seton Hall hosted them again last night. The tickets were affordable, since this is college, and not the pros. And we had pretty decent tickets this time around, much like we did the first time that we saw them, a couple of years ago. Again, college seats are far cheaper.

So, there I was, seeing DePaul again!

Funny, because I got into them as a time when I was taking sports less and less seriously.

Yet, I started getting right back into DePaul, perhaps precisely because they are difficult to follow these days. I mean, they are not number one or two anymore. In  fact, I cannot recall the last time that they were in the top ten, or even ranked. The mighty have fallen, indeed.

So, they are not a local team for me, and hardly are ever on television. In short, they are more difficult to follow than they used to be, despite the superior technology. They are no longer a serious title contender, at least not in recent years, although it would be nice if they were.

I like DePaul because of the team that they used to be, and because of what they remind me of. I was a kid, watching them in Liberty, at the home of my grandparents, back when they were both still alive. The world seemed to be a brighter, more welcoming place. The future held all sorts of possibilities. And DePaul basketball, among other things, was one of the exciting things that I followed on television.

I never got too much into either college basketball or college football. Sure, I would watch a bowl game or two (tops), and might want some of the March Madness elimination games. But that was about it.

Until 2009, when DePaul began to recover a bit, and made it into the March Madness tournament once again. They played Dayton in the first round, and won! Then, they went up against UConn, precisely when the Huskies were catching fire, on their way to another national championship. But it was still nice to see them play in some relevant games again, after so much time had passed.

That was when I began to follow DePaul again.

They have not exactly been a hot team since, although they are showing signs of recovery this season.

Ironically, I picked a hell of a game to attend as a fan of DePaul. They had a monstrous 51-game losing streak against ranked teams that dated back something like a decade! But it would end on this night, on the road, against number 25 Seton Hall!

DePaul seemed to take command of the game early, and they looked like the clearly better team throughout most of the first half. But, showing why they are a top-25 team, Seton Hall fought their way back, and were able to close the margin considerably just before halftime.

It was worrying, because it felt like the kind of game that Seton Hall would start to take over early in the second half, then run away with.

Yet, DePaul rediscovered the formula that had allowed them to take a commanding lead and, within the first few minutes of the second half, they had reclaimed a sold 10-point lead, taking the air out of the Prudential Center. They were playing sharp basketball, hitting their shots, and playing with a stifling "D" that seemed to force Seton Hall into turnovers.

But it did not last, and Seton Hall made their run. The lead kept getting smaller and smaller until, at one point, it no longer existed.

Until, at one point, it became a deficit. Then, a fairly sizable one.

Following that particular script, it sure felt like Seton Hall would run away with it, as time was running out, and the home crowd suddenly had sprung to life.

It was feeling more and more like the all too familiar losses in big games for DePaul.

Rather shockingly, however, DePaul suddenly roared to life in the final minutes, reasserting control and reclaiming the lead, then finding a way to hold off Seton Hall to preserve what seemed to most to be an unlikely road win against a ranked team!

What a victory for them! Also, surely, what a disappointment for Seton Hall, a team that had just managed to break into the top 25 ranking. I have nothing against Seton Hall.

For me, however, it was only the second DePaul game that I had ever attended (the first was against Seton Hall as well, back in 2013), and the first win!

What a game!

Unfortunately, it did not last too long, as DePaul lost just a few days later, to take some of the air out of their biggest win in years.

For that matter, Seton Hall lost their next game as well, dropping them out of the distinction of being a ranked team.

Still, getting the opportunity to enjoy an exciting basketball game with my son, with great seats for pretty cheap price, was pretty cool. Adding another chapter to my experiences with DePaul basketball was pretty cool, as well.

A fun night, and something that definitely seemed worth sharing here.

Below are some pictures, as well as links to articles about the game I saw. Also, at the very bottom, are video links to some old DePaul basketball games from many years ago, which I found on Youtube and looked really cool, and certainly worth sharing!

DePaul Overtakes Seton Hall 64-60, Associated Press, January 22, 2015:

Seton Hall knocked off by DePaul, 64-60 By J.P. PELZMAN, January 22, 2015:

Garrett, Henry lead DePaul past No. 24 Seton Hall 64-60 by Jim Hague, January 22, 2015:

Meltdown at the Rock: Seton Hall stunned by DePaul by Jerry Carino, January 22, 2015:

No. 24 Seton Hall can’t hold on, falls 64-60 to DePaul by Jim Hague, January 22, 2015:

DePaul tops No. 24 Seton Hall after 51 straight losses to ranked teams Joe Davis and Jim Spanarkel recap DePaul's first win over a top-25 ranked opponent since 2008, January 22, 2015:

Seton Hall collapses late, suffers ugly loss to DePaul By Zach Braziller, January 22, 2015:

Remaining regular season schedule for Depaul Men's Basketball this year:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Super Bowl Media Day This Year & Last

Yesterday, after carefully navigating my way home during the then still active snowstorm that hit the northeast, I watched a part of the Super Bowl Media Day on ESPN.

Normally, this is a pretty boring event, in all honesty. But, I learned that mostly last year, when attending the event when it was hosted locally, at the Rock (Prudential Center) in Newark, NJ.

I am still thankful to have gone, because it was my first (and so far only) chance to actually see all of the players and staff members (as well as other notable personalities) that would be participating in the Super Bowl just a few days later. My son went along with me to see it, and I allowed him to take the day from school, because really, how often can you see a Super Bowl event? The New York/New Jersey region has only hosted the one Super Bowl, and there is absolutely no guarantee that it will ever come back. So, I wanted to share the experience with my son.

Of course, it was not the Super Bowl itself. Yet, it allowed us to get a taste of the media spectacle that the Super Bowl has become, which was interesting. I wrote a blog entry on it, which included pictures, and thought it would be cool to republish that here (see below).

As for the Super Bowl Media Day yesterday? Well, there were of course questions (for members of both teams) regarding "Deflate Gate". But there were also some other interesting moments, as well. Marshawn Lynch, who avoided the questions on Media Day last year, did go to the podium this time around, in order to avoid a hefty $500,000 fine. But, he warned ahead of time that he would simply answer each question with the same answer: "I'm just here so I won't get fined."

Lynch was true to his words, too. That was pretty much how he answered each question.

Also, there were some interesting moments with other players, including dancing by a few players.

Perhaps the most interesting moment involved, rather predictably, Richard Sherman. He was one of those who danced (and quite well, I might add), but he also got in a fairly heated debate with a reporter over "Deflate Gate".

Of course, the really interesting event is yet to come: the Super Bowl itself. One team will walk off the field with a championship, and will await their Super Bowl rings. The other will stalk off with a missed opportunity.

We'll see which is which on Sunday.

In the meantime, here is a look back at yesterday's Super Bowl Media Day highlights yesterday in Arizona, as well as a personal look back at the Super Bowl Media Day last year that I was fortunate enough to attend last year in Newark, New Jersey.

Here were some interesting articles that highlighted yesterday's event:

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch: 'I'm just here so I won't get fined' by NFL Highlights 1:22 mins:

"I wish this would be a better debate," Sherman lamented, "but ... the levels aren't there for us."

Richard Sherman takes all comers, including unrelenting questioner over Roger Goodell Eric Edholm By Eric Edholm of Shutdown Corner, January 27, 2015:

Last Year's Post on Super Bowl Media Day, Newark, NJ - January 28, 2014

So, yes, I went to the Super Bowl Media Day event yesterday. I wanted to post this blog entry then, but the computer crapped out on me, and I could not even get on, let alone download the pictures and post this entry.

But now, I have managed it, and so here comes the review:

Truth be told, I was looking forward to this for some time. Now, we all know how expensive and ludicrously overpriced Super Bowl tickets are. And I kind of thought that this would be a cool, obviously much cheaper alternative. The tickets sell for maybe around $35 or so after all of the service charges and such, so you are not exactly breaking the bank to go there, as opposed to the actual Super Bowl game itself, where tickets are going for no less than $1,000 for face value! No way that I can get those, unless I win them in some contest of something. So, this offered me the chance to take my son, so that we both could see the hoopla of the media coverage, as well as all of the players and coaching staff from both teams, and perhaps some extras.

And indeed, see those things we did. Also, indeed, there were some surprises.

Now, some of it was good, and some of it was...well, not bad, exactly but...well, kind of long and a bit on the boring side.

It's just that the ticket said that the event started at 9:30am, and so we got there a bit earlier. But the Broncos, the first team slated to make an appearance, were going on not before 10:30am, and it was closer to 10:40 or so when they actually came out. I had arranged to get out of work a bit early (yes, I work overnights, in case you were wondering), and rushed to go pick up my son. But it was early yet, so I kind of just hung around and let him wake up a bit, before we went on our way. It was extremely cold, in the single digits, when we left. The day got warmer as it progressed, and it would be in the teens when the event was over. Now, that might seem cold, but it felt positively balmy compared to the single digit, deep freeze of the morning. But after rushing like that, waiting in very heavy traffic, it was disappointing to see that the event started at 10:30, one hour earlier than we had been led to believe.

Then came the next disappointment. I had told my son that both teams would be wearing their uniforms, so that it would make the thing feel more like a game, and more like an actual sports event. After all, to my knowledge, both teams participating in the Super Bowl had always had worn their uniforms for media day in the past as far back as I could remember, and that included last year. So, I was looking forward to seeing them in their uniforms.

Instead, both teams wore these kind of gray-silver jumpsuits. It it were not for the bright orange caps and the t-shirts that the Broncos wore underneath (and not all of them wore the caps, nor did all of them have those jumpsuits unzipped enough to see the orange Broncos t-shirts underneath), you would not even really be able to tell the difference between the two unless you went right up to them as could see it. So, that was  (which were really good, and my son really loved them!), all of which I think they were experimenting with, giving free samples to people to test a new line, or something. Also, we got cell phone protectors from the NFL, and little radios that allowed us to tune into six different stations, or podium lines. Each player was assigned to different podiums, and you could choose what line you wanted to hear. So long as it was one of the major players, or the head coach, you could pretty much listen to whoever you wanted to. For the most part, I listened to Peyton Manning, Head Coach John Fox, Eric Decker, and Knowshon Moreno for the Denver Broncos, and Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Head Coach Pete Carroll, and Earl Thomas for the Seahawks.

Predictably, the men with the most media around them were Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman.

I remember looking for Marshawn Lynch, but he was nowhere to be found. I listened in to the NFL Network (they were among our radio options), and there was a rumor going that Lynch had physically left the building. That ended up not being true, although he was not at any podium, and was kind of hiding away. The media circus just wasn't his thing, and he wanted to get away from it. It just wasn't his thing, and he was more interested in the actual game on Sunday, rather than the media blitz of Super Bowl Media Day. On some level, you can understand and respect that, right?

The other players were a bit harder to find, but once you got the gist of the podium orders, it became relatively easy - again, for the major players. As for the others like, say, the placekicker for the Denver Broncos who scored that NFL record 64-yard field goal earlier this season? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Just one more reason why, in my opinion wearing the uniforms (without the shoulder pads) would have been more considerate to the fans.

There were a few other appearances by notable football personalities. You can see the program hosts from the NFL Network (I cannot specifically remember their names at the moment. But some of these included Deion Sanders, Michael Irving, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, and Marshall Faulk. Also, John Elway was one of the special guests. Like with Peyton Manning, I had seen him in a game before (actually, in a season when the Broncos would win the Super Bowl, but the Broncos lost that day to the Giants, ending their bid for a perfect season after starting off 13-0), but from nosebleed seats. So, it was really cool to see him in a lot more detail.

Indeed, you did get a taste of all the hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl. The presence of the media was just incredible, and I've never seen so many media people in one place before. It was a bit like a circus. In fact, I heard that they did have a clown, literally. They also had cheerleaders (from the Jets), a drum line (from the Giants) and some players from other teams milling about. I also saw a couple of guys wearing superhero outfits. Why? I don't know. But they were there.

Quite a few people seemed to be hosting their own television shows down on the floor, which was very crowded. So crowded, that several news sources were relegated to the stands themselves, and were interviewing the fans. A couple of them were in our section, and the next section over, and there are pictures of them down below.

Again, I have been looking forward to this event for some time. Not that my Giants were here, but it was a pretty cool event nonetheless.

But, a little long, and I think that was the main thing that took me by surprise. Not sure what I was expecting, exactly. But the length of the thing was just...well, it kind of wears on you. The Broncos came on at 10:30, an hour after the ticket suggested the event started. That's a long wait. And they were on for one hour, plenty of time for the players to be asked (and unfortunately, often to answer) some ridiculous questions that had nothing to do with football. For instance, Eric Decker was asked about Bruno Mars, and he answered that while he was not all that familiar with his music, he did feel Bruno Mars had some good music, and that he was the right choice for this event. Another player (can't remember his name) who had a big, bushy beard, was asked something about it (I could not quite make out what it was, because you could not hear the reporters asking questions), and he was walking about not washing his beard ever again, and putting some maple syrup in it, or something like that, to make it even thicker.

After a while, you begin to feel like it is a circus, and the appreciation for just how huge this event has grown begins to get clearer. In fact, it is actually absurdly popular.

Another thing that was different, and a bit of a disappointment specific to this Media Day, was that since it was not held in the stadium itself, you did not get to see the field, with end zones painted up in the colors of both teams, and the painted logo of the Super Bowl, and all of that. I think that could have made for great picture taking, but obviously, that was not an option in a hockey arena, miles away from where the game will actually be played. Not a huge thing, but a bit of an annoyance, nonetheless, although that obviously has to do with this being a cold weather Super Bowl, and is not likely to be repeated in future Super Bowls, to my understanding.

So, would I recommend it?

I don't know, actually. Depends on how big of a fan you are, or how curious you are about it. It is definitely pretty cool to see the players fairly close, and without all of their gear on, particularly the helmets. Also, it was interesting to see just how much media there is there, and how they reacted and competed. It can't be easy in their situation. But it also gives you the sense of scale regarding the enormity of this thing, of just how huge (some might suggest that it has gotten preposterously big) it has gotten over the course of the years, and even decades. This is a taste of the media circus, and so it is interesting, nonetheless. And being able to hear the interviews for at least the biggest names from both teams (save Seattle's running back, Marshawn Lynch - and he was ultimately found and interviewed by the NFL Network's Deion Sanders), was pretty cool.

That said, I know this event will not be for everybody. Some will find it rather boring. I was tired from the lack of sleep (usually, I sleep right after returning from work in the morning), and some of the waiting certainly was not helping me to stay awake. My son, when told that players would be coming out in their uniforms (and again, I really wish they had come out in their uniforms), then being disappointed that they didn't, and that they weren't playing the Super Bowl right then and there, that is something to bear in mind, if you have children and are thinking of taking them. I thought it would be special, a once in a lifetime kind of thing, because who knows if this area will ever host the Super Bowl again? But there were times, especially during the waiting, when he certainly appeared bored. He did not get as much excitement from seeing some of the "old" players, like John Elway. That's understandable, since he is too young, and would have no memories of him, having been born more than six years after Elway retired from the game.

Overall, it's not that much of a financial commitment. And if you want to see your team, or just the whole media circus surrounding a Super Bowl, this can be intriguing, indeed. it pales to the actual Super Bowl, but then again, with prices as exorbitant as they are, the Super Bowl Media Day can be a cheap and rewarding alternative, if you are into it.

A panel from the NFL Network. Not sure who the two far guys, and the woman are. But Michael Irving and Terrell Davis are the two figures closest to the camera.

Broncos coach John Fox talking to the press.

 Peyton Manning answering some questions at his podium.

Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos trying on a wrestling style championship belt

The media day from event set back a bit, while it's going on. 

Legendary quarterback John Elway, who still works for the Denver Broncos, appears as a guest on the show for the NFL Network. 

The lady next to us, who was a Broncos fan, absolutely adored my son, and told us that she was glad that she sat next to us, because we were so nice. She was very nice, as well, and when she saw this (which I had not noticed), she took a picture, with her own camera, and send it to SBMEDIADAY site, so that our picture could go up on the screen, in the waiting time between the appearance of the two teams.

And here we are. Our picture is the middle picture on the top row. My son is wearing a red hoodie, while I am wearing a brownish gray hoodie. This was the clearest shot that I was able to take of our picture being posted here. 

Here is the other picture I managed to take of our photo being posted. Here, we are on the bottom row, second from right.

Of course, it seemed fitting to take a picture of my son when we arrived. Here, he is posing before the camera, with the Super Bowl Media Day festivities preparing to kick off shortly. When the players came out, the floor was far more packed than what you see here in the background.

The Seahawks are about to come out for their portion of Super Bowl Media Day.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll was all smiles today, talking to the media. 

The most popular guy for the media to focus in on was Richard Sherman, the Seahawks outspoken cornerback. 

It was relatively quiet when we got there, with our section pretty empty (we must have been one of the few people who did not know that the starting time had been pushed back to around 10:30am, annoyingly. There were still a lot of reporters and media around, but nowhere near as much as when the players came out.

A picture of the transparent bag that we were given, with the stuff inside. The bag was pretty cool, and it had "Super Bowl Media Day" printed on it, a cool little souvenir. Otherwise, there were a few snacks and a couple of drinks (Pepsi), a cell phone protector from the NFL, the portable radios with Super Bowl XLVIII logos on it, some football cards (don't believe they were Topps, but can't say for sure), and some other stuff. I think there was shaving gel, or aftershave, or something, in there (will have to check later). Maybe a few other items that I'm not thinking of or remembering. Nothing grandiose or anything, but a cool little makeshift souvenir of the event, which was appreciated.

The special shows being broadcast live from this event were still just setting up with makeup crew, and the women getting their hair done, all while preparing their notes and such. Also, in the above picture, you can see some people were interviewing special guests, although I could not always identify just who some of the people were. Some of those in attendance who gave interviews were Antrel Rolle of the New York Giants, and DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles, who was roundly booed. This I did not agree with, despite being a Giants fan, because his son was there, and looked at the crowd and appeared surprised and a little stung at the reception his father got.

The outside entrance of the Prudential Center in Newark, adorned with a huge banner advertising the Super Bowl Media Day event.