Sunday, January 13, 2008

The triumph of Luigi

Hey, let's talk about football.


I'm normally more or less indifferent to football. It's there, and I glance at it from time to time. But it's not something I follow closely, nor is it a topic on which I can often speak intelligently.

But I've actually been paying attention this season. And while watching an actual game is hardly an enthralling experience -- "And the Texans fail to convert on third down...again" -- I've become wrapped up in some of the teams and their stories. And holy crap, they're actually sort of interesting.

Like Eli Manning, the NFL's answer to Luigi. He's good, he's nice, people like him, but no matter what he does, he can't seem to escape the expansive shadow of his older brother, Mario. Or, in this case, Peyton.

You may be familiar with Peyton Manning. If not, turn on your TV. That's him. If there's a guy on camera, there's an 60% chance that it's Peyton Manning. If not, wait for the next commercial. Ah, there he is!

Peyton is a superstar. Peyton won a Super Bowl. Peyton helps old ladies cross the street. Peyton always saves the Princess and collects all the Yoshi coins and never uses warp zones.

Eli, by comparison, has led the New York Giants to precisely fuckall during his tenure as their quarterback. He's lounged behind, watching from his couch as Peyton dominates in the playoffs and defeats all the Koopa kids. (Let me know if I take this metaphor too far.) He seemed doomed to suffer a lifetime of comparisons to his brother, always to be found wanting.

Until today, that is. Today, Peyton fell short. Peyton got beat on his own turf and cashiered from the playoffs. And Eli -- immediately afterward -- lead his Giants to an upset victory over the vaunted Dallas Cowboys, in Dallas, to sent the Giants to the NFC title game.

"How you like me now, Peyton?"

As a longtime supporter of Luigi -- the video game one this time -- I wholeheartedly support Eli and the Giants, and wish them well against the Packers.

Of course, it doesn't matter who wins that game, because this season has been -- and will continue to be -- about one team: the Patriots.

So the Patriots were caught cheating earlier this year. They got busted illegally videotaping signals from the Jets' defensive coordinators, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought the hammer down. The coach was fined, the team was fined, and they had to surrender draft picks. Sure taught them a lesson, huh?

Except a strange thing happened. The Patriots -- already a phenomenal team -- turned savage. Tom Brady read defenses like he was telepathic. The defensive line was replaced by the armies of the Uruk'Hai. Randy Moss played like...Randy Moss. The entire squad become a merciless squadron, a venomous swarm of hornets, fighting to defend the honor of their maligned head coach, Bill Belichick, himself a rather savage competitor.

From that moment on, it wasn't enough for the Pats to win -- they had to leave their opponents bloodied and destroyed. Let no one ever again question the ability of the Patriots. Let no one ever again question the talents of their coach, the Hoodie. (Jim Rome often refers to Belichick by this nickname, citing the man's preference for hooded sweatshirts during games.)

Bill Belichick

So the Patriots crushed everybody. And it wasn't long before people started talking about them running the table -- actually finishing the season undefeated. And it was then that I started rooting for the Patriots. Passionately.

Why? Because the only other team to run the table was the 1972 Dolphins, who finished 14-0 in the regular season and went on to win the Super Bowl. How proud are they of this accomplishment? Each year since, the members of that team get together and have a party once the last undefeated team is brought aground. Yes, a bunch of old guys have a party to celebrate someone else's failure. Clearly, this vile bunch of douchebags needs to be ripped of their reason to live. Enter my new favorite team, the New England Patriots, who can not only pull off what the Dolphins did, but do it better -- they play sixteen games these days.

So yeah -- it turns out football is actually pretty compelling. At least, as long as you can avoid sitting down and watching the games.

Hey, with baseball in the offseason and mired in a steroids scandal, I have to have something. I'll take the Patriots breaking the hearts of a bunch of soulless old men.

Next up: basketball!

(Er...actually, not.)

Now playing: Genesis - Dance on a Volcano
via FoxyTunes


  1. This will be the extremest extent of my football knowledge.

    1)It's Peyton Manning:

    2)No, they don't:

  2. Your spelling correction is appreciated, and has been fixed.

    And that's funny, 'cause I heard one of those '72 Dolphins -- this year, no less -- defending their practice. "We're just having some fun with it, we're not trying to be mean." Don't know what's going on there.

  3. I cannot help but be reminded of the story a few months ago when Michelin Man Schula went on the air and said something to the effect of the Pat's being a crap team that cheats (see: spygate). I hope, for the sanity of most involved, that the Pat's do indeed run the table. For, if they don't we will be barraged from on high by the people who believe that "Just because you can win 16 straight games don't mean shit, if you can't win it all." While I do agree with that statement, I don't agree with the idea that it completely diminishes the fact that you DID finish the season with a perfect record. In todays game, parity appears to be the way of the world, and somehow or another, the Patriots have found a way to bolster their team with future HoF'ers and Perennial Pro-Bowlers while maintaining a budget under the salary cap. Kudo's to them.

  4. See? I don't know shit about football!

    Now I don't know who to believe. The Internet, or the Internet?

  5. Yeah, exactly. And once the entire media explained that to Shula, he *immediately* backed off from his statement and tried to pretend he never said it.

    Plus, with their victory on Saturday, the Pats are 17-0, which matches the Dolphins' mark. And it has been widely discussed that the Dolphins' run is not nearly as impressive as it may seem on paper.

  6. Well, you knew how to spell Peyton Manning's name. Which puts you ahead of me.

  7. Steve3:44 PM

    I'm not sure what Shula is bitching about anyway. He's riding Marino's coattails in those stupid Weight Watcher's commercials. Is he bitching because the rest of the '72 team is not in them, or is he just trying to make sure that his name is plastered over anything that has to do with a perfect season? Hey, if the Pat's win it all, are they gonna have a party just for Larry Czonka? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't he just about the only person known from the '72 Dolphins?