Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

Thoughts on Super Bowl XLIV

Posted by sanityinjection on February 8, 2010

A few thoughts in the aftermath of the New Orleans Saints’ upset victory last night:

Drew Brees played very well, and no single player is more deserving of the MVP award, not to mention the recognition as a top-flight quarterback he has long deserved. Yet, in a game touted as a matchup between two high-powered offenses, the truth is it was the Saints’ defense that won the game, with multiple goal-line stops of the much-vaunted Colts’ offense, and of course the interception that sealed the game. None of what Brees did would have mattered if the Colts had been allowed to convert on their drives. The age-old saying “Defense wins championships” was no less true in this Super Bowl than it has been in most of them.

In turn, much of the credit for the inspired play of the defense should go to Saints head coach Sean Payton and his defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Saints are not loaded with household names on defense – linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive back Darren Sharper being perhaps the best known until yesterday. But the Saints have done a tremendous coaching job with this unit, which has quitely played very well all season, and was particularly well prepared over the last couple of weeks for the supposedly unstoppable Colts offense. The Saints worked on facing the no-huddle and on blitz packages designed to put just enough pressure on Peyton Manning to give the Saint’s secondary a chance to make plays. Which is exactly what happened.

Finally, Payton deserves credit for some key decisions. The onside kick to start the second half was not only a bold move, but an unprecedented one in Super Bowl history. Payton correctly judged that it was worth the risk of giving up good field position to the Colts, given that Peyton Manning had just proven he didn’t need it by engineering a 96-yard drive. Then, the successful challenge of the 2-point conversion play. Make no mistake about it: The Saints players executed well on the field, but the roadmap to victory was drawn by Sean Payton and his staff. They outcoached the Colts, who have practically bragged about the fact that their head coach is basically just a  cipher for Peyton Manning. Manning calls the plays and runs the practices, and he does it well, but I think the Colts coaches relied on him too much and failed to game plan well enough for the Saints.

That is not to criticize Manning, whose one ill-timed interception should not obscure a good performance on his part. The Colts overall played a good game; they did not lose the Super Bowl so much as the Saints won it. Media members who are reviving whispers of Manning being a “choke artist” should be ashamed of themselves. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, and deserves to be mentioned alongside names like Montana, Young, Elway, and Staubach. Two days ago, sports analysts were debating whether he may be the best ever at the position. Yesterday’s result should not stifle that debate. If you doubt, go back and look at the stats from previous Super Bowls and see how many interceptions were thrown by the *winning* quarterbacks.

Rather, one might ask if a greater commitment to the running game by the Colts might have helped to keep the Saints’ offense off the field. Running backs Addai and Brown performed well when called upon, and the offensive line run blocks well. Surely the Colts did not draft Brown just to take fake handoffs from Manning.

Overall, the quality of the football on the field was high. There were few penalties, and only the one turnover which is rather remarkable. I would suggest that this had something to do with the fact that the #1 ranked teams with the best records in each conference were facing off against each other – no wild card teams or improbable Cinderellas here. Though you do have to like the back story of the Saints and the city of New Orleans.

For me, the enduring image that I will take away from Super Bowl XLIV will be that of Drew Brees after the game, surrounded by the celebrations, choosing to share his moment not with the crowd but with his infant son, conversing with him and kissing him affectionately as if he was home on his living room couch and not, for the moment, the center of the modern universe.  Brees’s son of course could not have had any understanding of what was going on, but Brees’ choice says a lot about what his priorities are, and set a strong example for millions of other men watching: Family is more important than anything else. If we learn nothing else from Super Bowl XLIV, let it be so much.

Posted in Current Events, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

McCain calls out federal census for $2.5M Super Bowl ad

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2010

Senator John McCain wants to know why the federal government is spending $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial to air during the Super Bowl. The commercial is to remind people about this year’s 2010 federal Census.

McCain said, “The census happens every 10 years. Everybody knows it happens.” While that may not be entirely accurate among the non-political crowd, the simple fact is that the Census is not optional. We are required by law to participate. Why should the feds be spending $2.5 million to convince us to do what we have to do anyway? It’s like airing an ad that says, “Remember, tax day is April 15, don’t forget to pay your income taxes.”

Given the state of our economy, couldn’t we either have refrained from spending the $2.5M that we don’t have, or at least spent it on something helpful? In McCain’s words, “We shouldn’t be wasting $2.5 million taxpayer dollars to compete with ads for Doritos!”

Of course, this is red meat for conservative voters, and McCain is facing a conservative challenger in the Arizona Senate primary. But it’s also right up McCain’s alley as a long time spending hawk.

Posted in Current Events, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Florida’s Tim Tebow to star in pro-life Super Bowl ad

Posted by sanityinjection on January 27, 2010

It’s been a while since there was anything controversial about the commercials aired during the Super Bowl. But this year promises to be different.

Even if you don’t follow college football, you have probably heard the name Tim Tebow. Star quarterback for the University of Florida, Tebow is the first player ever to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and the first to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season.

Now set to enter the NFL draft this spring and begin his professional career, Tebow has made an unusual choice. He has agreed to star in a Super Bowl ad sponsored by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. The ad tells the story of Pam Tebow (Tim’s mother)’s difficult pregnancy, during which she was advised by doctors to have an abortion to protect her own health. She refused, and gave birth to Tim.

There are two interesting aspects to this ad. First is the fact that nobody can remember a political issue ad such as this airing during the Super Bowl before. CBS – the network carrying the game this year – used to have a longstanding policy against “controversial” ads, but they have since loosened their rules. Except during a Presidential primary year, there’s rarely anything big going on politically when the Super Bowl is played, so there’s little incentive to spend the megabucks to pay for such an ad. Needless to say, pro-choice groups are lobbying CBS to kill the ad; surprisingly, CBS appears to be standing firm for the moment.

The second question is whether this is a good decision by Tebow. Well known at school as a devout Christian, no one doubts the sincerity of his motivation. But the NFL tries hard to avoid political controversy. Tebow and whatever team he ends up playing for will want fans to be eager to buy a Tebow jersey regardless of their political views. If taking a strong stand on this issue alienates half the fan base, that will cost Tebow and the NFL real money. I could even imagine certain teams rating Tebow lower on their draft boards over something like this.

Of course Tebow should not have to forego the right to speak his views simply because he plays football. There are many, many NFL players who are pro-life and also quite public about their Christian faith. But there is a difference between answering questions honestly – like beauty pageant contestant Carrie Prejean did – and going out of your way to shove your views in everyone’s face, like Barbra Streisand. Focus on the Family and its leader James Dobson have been particularly prone to controversy in the past. Choosing to associate yourself with them for your first foray into politics is like choosing to associate with Al Sharpton for your first foray into civil rights.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to have these kinds of ads during the Super Bowl? Is Tebow doing the right thing by speaking out?

Posted in Current Events, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

More good news for US troops in Iraq

Posted by sanityinjection on January 9, 2009

US troops serving in Iraq will be allowed to participate in a time-honored American tradition – they will be allowed to drink beer while watching the Super Bowl.

In addition to the standard military prohibition on drinking alcohol in a combat zone, all troops in Iraq fall under a specific order banning them from the possession of alcohol and pornography, in deference to the Islamic values of most Iraqis. Those who violate this prohibition can be fined, demoted or even court-martialed.

However, commanding General Odierno has issued a special waiver of these rules for the night of Feb. 1-2 (The Super Bowl is broadcast live at 2 AM local time on February 2.) Soldiers gathered at military bases to watch the big game will be allowed up to two 12-ounce beers each.

Although it may seem like a small thing to us, measures like this can have a significant impact on morale for military members. When troops feel that their commanders care about the conditions in which they serve, they respond with dedication.

Although it’s still three weeks away, let me be among the first to say to our fighting men and women in Iraq: This Bud’s for you.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »