Under The Bleachers: Ignoring The Super Bowl Distractions

Above: The New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks for Super Bowl XLIX

In case you didn’t know, Super Bowl XLIX is actually being played on Sunday in Phoenix. Given how little of the coverage during “Super Bowl Week” has actually focused on the game itself, it would be understandable if that important fact hadn’t registered.

Over the 10-12 days since the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots punched their tickets to the final game of the season, the narratives surrounding each team have had very little to do with the game itself.

With Seattle, the focus has been on All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, the backfield bulldozer with a fondness for Skittles and grabbing his junk as he crosses the goalline who also has zero interest in speaking with the media. His “repeat the same line over and over” interactions with the media have become the biggest story of the week, even though there is really no story to write because none of this is new news.

It’s not like Lynch woke up on Monday and suddenly decided, “You know what – I’ve been great with the media for my entire career; I think I’m done with that.” The man that has made “You know why I’m here” into a catchphrase this week has never been keen on getting grilled by reporters, yet there they are, every day, sticking cameras, microphones and recorders in his face, asking him questions they know he’s not going to answer. What makes it even better is that the NFL mandates that he appears at these things, levying fines on anyone that doesn’t show up and answer questions.

Things aren’t any better on the New England side of the media scrum either, as “Deflategate” has been the topic of choice since the Patriots put a whooping in the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship.

In case you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid all this until now, a quick refresher:

New England smashed Indy 45-7. Between halves, officials discovered that the footballs New England supplied and were using (every team brings their own set of balls to a game… weird, right?) were not inflated to the proper league specifications. Given that it was a rainy, sloppy day, the logic is that less inflated balls would be easier to catch and handle. The balls were replaced at halftime and the scandal about who knew what and whether or not the Patriots are the biggest cheaters in the history of pro sports (this week) has been raging on ever since.

No one mentions that New England outscored Indianapolis 28-0 in the second half or that the Patriots got up big in the first half on the strength of their rushing game. They got caught cheating eight years ago and now they were cheating again and all that matters it that they’re cheaters. Cheaters. Cheaters. Cheaters.

Ugh… enough already.

Instead of focusing on that junk, how about talking about how impressive it is that Seattle is back in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive season, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since – hey, look at that – the Patriots did it in Super Bowl 38 and Super Bowl 39?

Or how about discussing how this could be the changing of the guard in terms of NFL dynasties or legacy teams or whatever you want to call them?

Seattle has been to the playoffs in each of Russell Wilson’s first three seasons, winning a Wild Card game his first year, winning the Super Bowl last year and advancing to the Big Dance again this season. They’ve won two straight NFC West Division titles and no fewer than 11 games in each of the last three seasons. They are a dynasty in the making.

Sunday, they face a team that has dominated been the epitome of consistency and excellence in the NFL over the last 15 years.

During the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls, played in two more, collected 12 AFC East titles, had only one season where they didn’t win 10 games or more, went 11-5 when Brady got hurt on the second play of the season and posted the first-ever 16-0 regular season record. Dislike them all you want, but do not deny that New England has been a dynasty these last 12-13 years in a league that emphasizes parity.

What makes this potential “changing of the guard” even cooler is that Seattle’s coach, Pete Carroll, was the coach of the Patriots in the three years between their Super Bowl run in 1997 under Bill Parcells and the beginning of the Belichick regime. You think that guy doesn’t want to stick it to his former employers and hand them their third consecutive Super Bowl defeat?

On top of all that, the X’s and O’s of this game are amazing as New England and Seattle match-up nicely on both sides of the ball and each quarterback has already proven to their mettle in big game situations.

Those are the stories people should be talking about heading into Sunday’s game, not Lynch failing to say anything of substance to the media and the Patriots’ balls.

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