Super Bowl XXXVI Greatest This Writer Has
by Colin Smith
Warning: the column you are about to read is
Glad I got that out of the way.
your new sports editor, and as you may hear me mention a few times
(just a few) over the next couple months, Iím from New
that just the greatest Super Bowl ever, or what? (Correct answer:
maybe not ever. I have to admit, I havenít seen all 36 of them. But
definitely the best one in my lifetime. (I turned 20 this week, by
the way. Happy birthday to me). Hands down. No questions asked. You
can make your arguments for Super Bowl XXV with the Giants and
Bills, or Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams and Titans, both of which
went right down to the wire. But for last minute finishes you canít
beat what you just saw on Sunday:
score a touchdown to tie the game at 17 at 13:30 in the fourth
quarter. After a short kick return, the Patriots start their drive
at their own 17, with 1:21 to play and no time outs. No time outs!
The two minute warning has come and gone; the only way to stop the
clock is to spike the ball and lose a down. We see Tom Brady, a
24-year-old quarterback who had never started an NFL game before
this season, lead his team 53 yards in 74 seconds to set up a
48-yards field goal attempt for Adam Vinatieri. And he drilled it to
keep this from being the first Super Bowl to go to overtime.
Instead, it became the first Super Bowl ever to end with a winning
field goal as time expired.
drive isnít enough to seal it, here are some other reasons why this
Super Bowl was the best in at least 20 years:
thereís the 48-yarder to win it (not exactly a chip shot). Then how
about that huge 23-yard pass to Troy ďMr. OpenĒ Brown? Did you see
the coverage? Nothing but Rams around him and he manages to find the
foot of open space and Brady gets it right to him.
excitement of that drive wasnít too much for you, you probably
remember that Kurt Warner pass to Ricky Proehl that tied the game.
Proehl turned a 15-yard gain into a 26-yard touchdown reception with
some great moves eluding tackles.
sweet catch by David Patten on a pass from Tom Brady at the end of
the first half. The hit that Antwan Harris put on Proehl to cause a
fumble and set up that pass.
And of course, thereís the play that
got the ball rolling for New England. Mike Vrabel went right through
the Rams offensive line to hit Warner and set up his touchdown pass
into the hands of Pats cornerback Ty Law.
added bonus, we got a big play that wasnít. Early in the fourth
quarter, fourth and goal from the three for the Rams, Kurt Warner
starts to scramble. BANG! Roman Phifer nails him, fumble, and
Tebucky Jones runs it back 97 yards for a touchdown. Too bad about
that holding penalty, but itís really something to think that the
Pats were one penalty away from a blowout, huh?
Rams had a 3-0 lead, the Pats werenít looking so hot, then an
interception-touchdown later the Pats were ahead 7-3. It looks like
itís still going to be close at half-time but another Rams turnover
and Patriots touchdown later itís 14-3 at the half. It was looking
good for the Pats, but when have the Rams ever been out of it? So of
course they were going to come back with two unanswered touchdowns
to tie it after being down 17-3. And then Vinatieriís field goal...
oh yeah, youíve heard about that already.
UPSET. Fourteen points? Okay, the point-spread was ridiculous, but
this was still the greatest upset I can ever recall. Any sport.
Other sportswriters have proclaimed it the second biggest Super Bowl
upset in history, second only to the Jets over the Colts in Super
Bowl III. Iíll buy that.
people, including one of the Rams, have said that the better team
didnít win this game. But theyíre missing the point. The better team
did win. The Patriots played as a team in every aspect of the game.
They passed up on individual introductions all season long to come
out onto the field as a team. They all acted with one goal, under
one game plan. They didnít have the big stars or the big hype ó can
anybody outside of New England name more than five Pats? ó but every
player knew his role and played it for the team.
Greatest Super Bowl in 20 years.
mention that Iím from New England?
just won the Super Bowl! My team is the world champion!
forgive me for gushing. This has never happened to me before. We New
Englanders are long-suffering fans, so we might be acting a little
crazy for awhile. The sports portions of our brains are filled with
words like ďcurseĒ, ďBambinoĒ, and ďBuckner.Ē The Patriots were the
oldest professional sports team to never win a championship.
Forty-two years after their inception theyíve won the first New
England championship in my memory. Damn, itís a good time to be a
Greatest Super Bowl of my life.
Sports: They Are Not Just Fun & Games
by Channing Joseph
Iíve been considering whether I am psychologically prepared for a
world where sporting events have been transmuted into political
statements. If I had my druthers, I would be comfortable with seeing
them as a source of fun and friendly competition. Yet, sadly, this
no longer seems to be the case.
As I think about it, the nation
we live in, for reasons most of us are tired pondering, seems to
have been changed in some fundamental and all-encompassing way.
Therefore, there is really no good reason anyone should expect the
sports realm to be the only thing untouched.
In spite of this, I
was recently a bit shocked while reading somewhere that the sold-out
Super Bowl crowd was being unbelievably patient with the long lines
and Orwellian level of security at the New Orleans Superdome. When
asked why, they replied that they were determined to go on living
courageously in the face of the terrorist threat, that regardless of
the team they were rooting for, they all felt like real ďpatriots.Ē
Now granted, this is quite an inspirational stance to take, and
I think few people would deny feeling a small swell of patriotism in
their hearts at such a resolute cry of American determination.
Unfortunately, this is exactly my problem with it, because I
donít want to feel patriotic right now. I donít want to
automatically feel like solidarity with my team means that I am
somehow making a statement about my resoluteness with my country.
Because honestly I am feeling quite disgusted with my country, more
specifically my government. I donít want to think that rooting for
my favorite player suddenly means that I am proud to be an
Now, itís granted that sports have always been
associated with patriotism. That overwhelming feeling of collective
agitation or excitement that one might feel during a large, crowded
game is virtually equivalent to the emotion of national pride. This,
Iím sure, has more than a little to do with the ritual of singing
the ďStar-Spangled BannerĒ at games.
I learned a bit more
about this relationship between sport and nation when I attended a
soccer game in Costa Rica a few years ago. It was the official Costa
Rican menís team against the United States menís team, and I was
actually relieved that the Costa Rican competitors were victorious.
On walking out of the stadium after the game, from the snickers and
insults the Costa Rican attendees threw at our rather large group of
Americans, I felt that things may actually have gotten violent with
us had our country taken home the win.
This strong sense of
patriotism is also an undeniable element of the Olympic games. The
teams and players represent their individual countries of
allegiance, though the ultimate idealistic intention of the whole
event is to foster cross-cultural understanding and
Unfortunately, itís also granted that, despite this
ideal, sporting events have for some time had a mild association
with so-called terrorism. From the 1972 attack by Black September
members on the Munich Olympic games, to the explosion at the 1996
Atlanta games, to the plot to blow up an antiquated nuclear reactor
in Sydney, Australia in 2002, violence during sporting events has
been a concern for some time.
Yet despite the fact that
these connections between sport, patriotism, and violent attacks
have existed for quite some time, they have now reached a point at
which they are inextricably tied. Consequently, I think we live in a
world now where the on-going Salt Lake City Olympics has the
potential to reach a level of national significance for Americans
unlike much of anything that has preceded. If the games go by
uneventfully, it may be taken as a redemptive statement about United
States national security, unable to foresee even such large-scale
and fastidiously-planned events as those of Sept. 11. If all does
not go well, this may serve to aggravate Americaís already inflamed
xenophobia, making its citizens even more overwhelmingly suspicious
of anyone perceived to be an outsider or foreigner, a terrible
side-effect for immigrants as well as for those people who just
My opinion is simply that this sense of
newly-enlarged national pride that Americans are feeling as a
natural reaction to a recent national tragedy is understandable and
human. Yet, my ultimate concern is that this pride potentially
blocks many of the citizens of this country from being able to step
outside of their imaginary bubble of dogmatic belief in the American
governmentís infallibility. Americans are already known around the
world as arrogant fools.
Last semester, while traveling
through Southern Africa, I was quite heart-warmed at the support and
sympathy most people showed for my being an American during a time
of nationwide mourning. I was also surprised and shocked by the few
people who expressed a sentiment that we had had it coming to us. I
felt lucky to have been away from the country at the time because I
was able to hear opinions that were not being presented on the cable
news stations. In the end, I my belief is that this international
notion of Americans as arrogant fools may have been a significant
factor in the making of the events of recent months.
terribly regrettable that these events have merely served to make
Americans a bit more arrogant and intolerant than they already were
And thatís the story of why I long for the days when the
Super Bowl was just an entertainment event, and not a political
statement of international