Three storylines we’ll all be sick of by the time the Super Bowl rolls around …
The Harbowl, or the Super Browl, or the Harbro Bowl
O Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Feb. 3, 4:30 p.m.
Where » New Orleans
TV » Ch. 2
Yeah, this is going to get tiresome, but, you got to admit, it’s pretty remarkable. What are the odds that two brothers, who shared the same bedroom for 16 years growing up, would be staring at each other from across the field, matching wits, instead of wiping boogers on each other, in the biggest game of the biggest sport in the land? If they went at it the same way they did when they were kids, they would put tape down the middle of the field and dare the other to cross it.
The whole thing takes the concept of sibling rivalry to turbo-jacked levels. Think about going up against your own brother in the Superdome, under the brightest of lights, with a billion people watching and commercials selling for $4 million a pop.
Who could have thought that those one-on-one basketball games in the Harbaugh family driveway, escalating from a minor competition into all-out war, ending with Jim punching John in the tenders and John slamming the ball into Jim’s forehead, before both were called in for supper, would be a preview of Super Bowl XLVII?
Even though Jim was younger, by 15 months, he had always stolen the spotlight from John, playing quarterback at Michigan and going on to a 15-year NFL career, then walking in the footsteps of his father, Jack, to coaching. John never played in the league and worked his way up through the bushes to the big time.
Both Harbaughs played down the brother angle on Monday. John said: "We’re not that interesting. There’s nothing more to learn. The tape across the middle of the room story, OK, you got it? It’s OK. It was just like any other family, really."
Said Jim: "It’s not about us. I keep coming back to that."
Then, he added that he’s proud of John and that he loves him.
Can’t remember Vince Lombardi or Bill Belichick ever saying that about Hank Stram or Tom Coughlin.
The Ray Lewis farewell tour
Lewis is one of the best linebackers ever. His 17-year career has accompanied the Ravens’ rise and ongoing success. He’s the center of the Baltimore defense, which hasn’t been all that impressive this season, ranking 20th against the run and 17th against the pass. But Lewis goes on, talking like a preacher, laying it on thick, inspiring his teammates and scaring the bleep out of everybody else.
He’s made 13 Pro Bowls, been named the NFL’s defensive player of the year twice, and was MVP the last time the Ravens made the Super Bowl. He also avoided murder charges in 2000 by pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and testifying against two co-defendants as part of a plea deal in a trial following a street fight that left two men dead.
Don’t know, have never known, what to make of that last one other than to hope justice was served. Some look at his playing career, his charitable work, and praise him. Some will forever wonder about his involvement in that fight.
In 2010, Lewis said the following to the Baltimore Sun about the killings:
"I’m telling you, no day leaves this Earth without me asking God to ease the pain of anybody who was affected by that whole ordeal. He’s a God who tests people — not that he put me in that situation, because he didn’t make me go nowhere. I put myself in that situation. But if I had to go through all of that over again … I wouldn’t change a thing. Couldn’t. The end result is who I am now."
The first-time SB quarterbacks
Joe Flacco’s been dancing on the edge of NFL stardom for a couple years, and he’s stayed on that edge … until now. Without him, Baltimore wouldn’t be in this Super Bowl. His 70-yard game-saver against the Broncos, followed by his second-half performance against the Patriots, when the offense was turned over to him, boosted the Ravens to their unlikely shot in New Orleans. Flacco is an old-school QB who likes to take the ball down the field, rather than chip at defenses with a dink-and-dunk approach, and he’s the key to the Ravens’ chances.
Colin Kaepernick, the second-year player who controversially replaced Alex Smith as the 49ers starter, also has a big arm with big-play capability. He can flat out wing the football — and also run it. All those who torched Jim Harbaugh for dumping Smith in favor of Kaepernick owe the man an apology. It was the right call.
At this point, nobody’s sure whether the kid will keep San Francisco’s Super Bowl record perfect — the Niners are 5-0 in past title games and four- to five-point favorites in this one — but, with the thrilling way Kaepernick plays, it’s going to be a gas finding out.Next Page >
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