Throughout the course of NFL history, there have been some rather spectacular playoff games and moments that people are still talking about today. Who can forget that incredible immaculate reception during the Steelers, Oakland game in the early 70’s? Or the big catch during the Dallas, San Francisco game in the 80’s? Last year’s Super Bowl was one of the better and most dramatic post-season games that I have ever seen. And lets not forget the incredible play at the goal line during the Patriots, Seahawks classic Super Bowl in 2015. I thought I had seen it all until I sat down last Sunday and watched a playoff game that I will never forget. The Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints game will go down as one of the most dramatic playoff games ever and the ending might be the most stunning ending ever to a playoff game.
Before I go any further, let me just put out this disclaimer. I am a huge Minnesota Vikings fan so naturally, this post is easy to write about. Perhaps if they had lost, it would not be such a great game of the ages! But either way, the last quarter kept me on the edge of my seat. 4 lead changes in the last 3 minutes of the game. And then the play that everyone is talking about, the walkoff long touchdown pass. That play is now called the “Minnesota Miracle”. I have seen a few football games end on a long touchdown pass, but never with so much at stake. Prior to the pass, I was just hoping the Vikings would somehow get the ball down in field goal range. Things looked very dire for the purple at that point. The Saints had a one point lead and Vikings only had 25 seconds to work with along with a long distance to move the ball.
Whether you are a coach, player or fan, you never want to give up hope ever in a game. Perhaps the Vikings could throw a long pass downfield and get a pass interference call. A miracle was needed and it came. I will never get sick of seeing that final play. In many ways, the Vikings were extremely fortunate to win because the Saints defensive back made an epic mistake during the play. You could also question the roles of the other defenders during the play as well.
Maybe this play and win will be just the thing to erase the string of bad luck the fans and organization have had to endure for the past 50 years. Sometimes a win like that is precursor to a special moment for the team. You just know that it is your year. Regardless, as a fan, I will never forget the “Minnesota Miracle”. Those are the moments that you just crave for as a sports fan of a particular team. That game and play will still be fresh in my mind some 20 years from now. It is just nice to be on the good side of a miraculous play for a change. An even better thing for us Vikings fans would be seeing our team win the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned. Now that one miracle has occurred, will winning the Super Bowl be another miracle in store for us?
It is widely believed by many that a career for your typical NFL player usually runs about 5 years. By the time most players reach 30, they are already contemplating retirement. The game is just to violent for your typical player to have a long career in the NFL. The human body is just not built to withstand that type of punishment for any long-term amount of time. A particular player during this year’s playoffs has really gone against that belief and is one of those freaks who has actually had a long and very storied career. His name is none other than Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots. The fact that he is still performing at a very high level is one of the most amazing sports stories ever. And the guy is 40 years old! Sometimes I wonder if Brady is really human. The man is a total freak of nature!
I don’t know if Brady is still the best quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers might have surpassed him, but it is hard to argue that anyone else is better than Brady. If not the best, Brady is certainly the second best quarterback in the league and you could also consider him as being one of the better players in the league. In how many other leagues is a 40-year-old considered one of the top players? Most players reached their peak during the late 20’s and decline after that. By the time many players are 32, it is time to think about being a role player on the team. Here you have Brady at 40 still dominating the league; how amazing is that? In all my years of watching sports, I have never seen an athlete perform like that so late in his career.
Perhaps more athletes can learn from what Brady is doing and his habits off the field. He reportedly is very disciplined about taking care of his body and has a very strict diet. Maybe he has found something in the fountain of youth that other players can use. Sure, Brady has for the most part avoided any chronic injuries that shorten many players career, but his willingness to take his craft serious with that much discipline should be applauded whether you are a fan of his or not.
Brady says that he wants to play until he is 45, then retire. Heck, why not play until you are 50? He could probably still be somewhat effective even at 50. We are witnessing a very special athlete in our midst. Professional sports are supposed to be leagues dominated by young 20 some year olds. Brady is blowing that myth that players cannot play at 40. Maybe more players will realize that they too can play well at that age. Maybe 40 is the new 30 in the world of professional sports.
The National Football League might be arguably the most popular professional sports league in the world. It is without question the most popular of the many professional leagues here in the United States. The recent anthem protests by several players has really put that popularity to the test. Many fans seem to be tuning out and ratings of the games are in a downward spiral. I hear many fans saying they are through with watching professional football and talks of more boycotts are sure to come if these protests continue by these disrespectful players.
As a huge lifetime fan of the league, I thought hard and long about boycotting this season and refusing to watch any games. Seeing players disrespect our flag by taking a knee during the anthem rubbed me the wrong way. How could a player who is privileged to be making millions of dollars by just playing a game show such lack of appreciation for this country? It seems like these protests are a direct slap in the face for many fans like myself who love this country. Then it dawned on me that these players represent a small minority of players in the league. A huge majority still have enough common decency to stand for just a few minutes and show some respect to our country. I am sure many are not entirely totally happy with what has gone on with the recent police shootings of unarmed black men, but they put those things aside to show just a little appreciation for how fortunate they are to be living in the United States.
Furthermore, many of these NFL players are extremely active in the community. Many use their off days to visit hospitals and schools. I saw a number of players from our local team visit a hospital and surely brighten the day of a young boy who was undergoing cancer treatment. These type of stories go widely unnoticed by the media. They like to focus on all the bad things that players do. Included among those players are probably some who are protesting. And let us not forget about J.J. Watt, a young player who organized a relief effort for victims of Hurricane Harvey. If you are going to criticize players for being unpatriotic, you might want to look at players such as Watt who has given so much time and effort to help those in need. There are many other players just like him who will sacrifice much to help out a fellow American. That is what this country is all about.
When I think of this acts of helping others, it makes me forget the actions of just a few knuckleheads. There are plenty of good dudes in the NFL and they are really worthy of our support. They do a lot for our country. I know many people are really upset with some of the players and the league’s response to these protests. I just think that we need to look at the total picture and understand that this league is filled by a majority of players who love this country. I don’t think boycotting the league at this time is the answer. I will still continue to watch and enjoy what is by far the best professional league going today.
It started with Colin Kaepernick, then several other prominent athletes joined this practice of kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest certain atrocities going in this country. With the upcoming NFL season just a few weeks away, this controversy of not standing during the anthem is not going away anytime soon and more players are bound to take a knee this year as well.
It is absolutely true, this is America and you have a right not to stand during the playing of our national anthem. Whether an athlete wants to stand or not stand is their own decision. However, with all decisions of that nature come consequences and many players fail to realize how much they are turning off fans like myself. It is also my right as a fan and a consumer of the league to turn off the NFL and distance myself from this complete disrespect of our nation.
Do these spoiled athletes realize how many opportunities are given to them in this country? Is it too much to give just a few minutes of gratitude to stand and show appreciation for the opportunity to earn a lot money by growing up in this great country? Or maybe honor many brave young men and women who gave their lives in honor of this country? Instead I hear whiners like Kaepernick and other athletes talk about all the wrongs going on and how they feel they must make a statement. Outside of protesting the national anthem, what have you done to help fix these problems. I often wonder how involved some of these athletes are in the inner city where many of these problems of our society originate. How many actually go to the police departments and talk about how they can work with the police to help ease racial tensions?
I think I speak for a lot of fans in seeing a very disturbing trend among some of these athletes, especially athletes of color. Many years ago, black athletes were on professional rosters because of their skin color. That has dramatically changed. As I mentioned in a previous post about Confederate symbols, we have come a longs ways in helping bridge the gap between whites and blacks in this country. I just wish some of these pampered athletes would look at the whole picture and realize how lucky they are to be playing ball and making a ton of money in this country. Disrespecting our country by failing to stand during the anthem is a huge turnoff for me and many fans. I have no time to feel sorry or support those disrespectful, pampered, crybabies.
Shortly after Tom Brady and the New England Patriots finished off the Atlanta Falcons in the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever, my thoughts were not on where Brady ranks among the greatest of all-time quarterbacks. Nor were my thoughts on the jubilant Patriot players and fans who just won their 5th Super Bowl title. My thoughts were of the many Atlanta Falcons fans and the organization who had their hearts ripped apart in dramatic fashion. Imagine for a second if your favorite team had blown that type of lead in the Super Bowl. Your team was cruising along with a huge lead and an almost certain chance of winning their first ever Super Bowl, then disaster strikes! In all my years of watching sports, it might go down as the biggest collapse ever with so much at stake. The rumors that the psychiatrists in Georgia were probably overbooked with appointments last week is probably true.
I don’t know where to exactly place the blame on the collapse, but one series of events during the game pretty much defined the collapse. After the Patriots had cut the score to 28-20 with about 5 minutes left in the game, Atlanta got the ball back and promptly marched down the field. They had a first and 10 around the New England 20 yard line. All they had to do was run a few running plays and kick a fairly makeable field to go up 2 scores with probably about 2 minutes left in the game. A fairly reasonable plan, right? The Falcons have a good tandem of running backs and the Patriots did not show all during the game that they could stop any running plays. For some unknown reason, the offensive coordinator of the Falcons decided to run a couple of passing plays which resulted in a holding penalty and then a costly sack. Those plays pretty much backed the Falcons out of field goal range and gave the Patriots a chance to tie the game which they did. Now I am far from being a football genius and the offensive coordinator is far smarter in football then I am, but the rationale behind this particular offensive series has me scratching my head! I just don’t understand the logic behind it.
Winning the Super Bowl is a very difficult task and most teams are lucky to even reach the big game, let alone winning the game. This was a golden chance that the Falcons let slip away. They may never get another opportunity to win their first Super Bowl in years. This game will be a deep permanent black mark on the organization forever. And what about the poor fans?! Having your team win the Super Bowl makes you feel so good inside. Very few things make you prouder to be a fan of a particular team than having that team win the Super Bowl.
If you are a fan of the Falcons or a member of that organization, all is not doom and gloom for the future. I still rank them as one of the favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a nearly unstoppable offense to rely on. Their defense is very young and will get better. It would not surprise me at all to see them back in the Super Bowl next year. But for the time being, how can you even sleep at night if you are a Falcons fan? This game was the big one that got away! Ouch! That one has to hurt.