He did it again. Those legs outstretched in front of him, his hands folded in his lap, and his head hanging in sadness - yup, Tom Brady is once again "Bradying." Perhaps he wouldn't look so despondent if he were wearing Uggs instead of cleats and a Burberry sweater instead of a grass-stained jersey.
Photos mocking the three-time Super Bowl champ were plastered all over the internet on Monday morning. The aforementioned return of "Bradying", sometimes with a side-by-side comparison to last year's pose, was one of the photos running rampant. In addition, there was also a clever photo going around with a photo of Eli and Peyton Manning sitting in the stands with an empty seat in between them. "Hey Tom Brady," read the caption, "We saved you a seat for the Super Bowl." Hardy har har!
While I'm having a fabulous time mocking the Pats for losing, I think maybe the bigger problem here is that the Ravens won. They could actually, gulp, win the Super Bowl. And perhaps even worse than this? We'll be subjected to "feel good" Ray "Ray Ray" Lewis stories for two weeks, especially since the Super Bowl will be his last game. I'll be sure to DVR all those interviews, along with all the ones involving the entire Harbaugh family (more on that later).
In Atlanta, we learned two things from the championship game. One, Colin Kaepernick can still beat you even if he doesn't rush for 181 yards. Two, Atlanta's defense once again collapsed upon itself, sort of like when you stomp down on a pop can and it gets all crinkled and flat - that's what the Falcons defense did again.
Last weekend, the Falcons clearly got lucky, or the Seahawks were just unlucky, by pulling out a win despite blowing a 20 point lead. This time, however, Atlanta blew a 17-0 lead and was unable to put together a final, game winning drive. Whatever magic they had inside those helmets last week was long gone this time.
And so we're looking at a San Francisco - Baltimore match up in Super Bowl 47, or, as it's more likely to be billed, Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh. And yes, I do realize that this is a great story, but you know the media is just going to beat this horse into a pulp. I predict interviews with parents, aunts, uncles, school bus drivers and babysitters comparing the mannerisms of the two coaches.
Also this weekend:
-- Always the consummate professional, Bill Belichick bows out gracefully.
Except not at all. Belichick refused to speak to CBS on his way off the field after the loss. In Belichick's defense (I know, I'm stunned too), I really dislike when sideline reporters go right up into the face of the losing coach seconds after the game is over, without even allowing a coach to collect his thoughts (which is why we also have the interviews with the winning coaches that always go something like, "Well....I'm just... so excited... this is a great win for our club...." Sound familiar?) On the other hand, this is behavior not foreign to Belichick and "The Sweatshirt." As you may recall, when the Pats lost the Super Bowl to the Giants in 2008, Belichick made the ultra-classy move of leaving the field even though there were still a few seconds left, leaving his team out there to run off in defeat without him. I'm sure because of the Belichick snub, CBS was deprived of a scintillating interview. Maybe The Sweatshirt had something to say?
-- Did he or didn't he prove himself worthy of the next level?
I'll admit to being a Jim Harbaugh fan from way back, so I was happy to see him lead his team to the Super Bowl. On the other hand, I just felt really bad for Atlanta, and I had no idea why. I have no emotional attachment to the team in any way, but after their last minute victory last week, it made me wonder if they were just destined to go all the way. And beat up Matt Ryan all you want, but I think he proved himself to be among the best quarterbacks in the league today. It's not really his fault his defense blew it (refer to the smashed can image from earlier), although Ryan did have a chance to lead the Falcons to another last minute victory. Well, in a mantra that I hear often being a Browns fan, there's always next year.
-- For those of you feeling lost without a game on Sunday, the NFL will offer a football-like substance they like to call the Pro Bowl for your enjoyment.
I'm not even going to pretend to be interested in this game, as I often lovingly refer to it as the NFL's popularity contest. I don't even know who the coaches are for this thing. It's not even a real game. You can't throw together a game plan with new players and new coaches in a week. Besides, these guys are too busy whoopin' it up on the sandy Hawaiian beaches to care about learning a new playbook for the pointless Pro Bowl. And half the time, the guys you want to see never play. Personally, I don't know why you'd pass up a trip to Hawaii, but it's kind of sad when even the players themselves don't think very highly of this "thing that may or may not resemble a football-like substance."
Well, folks, I'll be back in two weeks, but until then, get your dips and wings ready and enjoy the Super Bowl!
Hershberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org