Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Thwarting Mediocrity

February 1, 2009

If I’m Roger Goodell, I’m happy as hell this morning about last night’s Super Bowl.

Not because it was a thrilling game. Not because The Boss blew it up at halftime. Not because the league’s most legendary franchise won yet another Super Bowl. Not because the league’s coolest cat, Mike Tomlin, won his first Super Bowl.
No, I’m ecstatic because the Arizona Cardinals didn’t win.

There’s just something wrong with the idea that a team who had as mediocre of a regular season as Arizona could have been called the NFL’s champion. I felt the same way last year when Eli Manning and the New York Giants actually did hoist the Lombardi trophy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no fan of the Steelers–great franchise with probably the most annoying fans in the NFL. I can’t stand the Patriots, either. (For the record, Homerism is a Ravens fan.)
What bothers me, though, is the notion that Arizona essentially used a three-game playoff stretch to distinguish itself this year. Should we just ignore the fact that this team won a paltry nine games during the regular season, playing in the weakest division in the entire league? I can’t get past that.
Arizona clearly deserved to be in the Super Bowl, in so far as the Cardinals did everything required of them by the NFL’s system. Homerism won’t dispute that. What does it say about the system itself, though, when it produces a result that appears to be so at odds with a greater body of evidence?
If the Cardinals are being rewarded for playing the best in a short stretch of the postseason, what’s the point of the regular season? The non-playoff games become something worth little more than exhibition games. Sure, the regular season may determine the playoff participants, but winning or losing one game just doesn’t seem all that meaningful. In terms of importance, Patriots-Colts on Sunday night in October becomes about as “must-see” as a rerun of NCIS.
Alternatively, let’s say the Cards really were the best team in the NFC all year, but they decided to sleepwalk through the regular season, knowing all they needed to do was qualify for the postseason. That doesn’t strike Homerism as the kind of season that should be rewarded. Maybe I’m in the minority there.

What does any of this have to do with college football? After all, the differences between college and the pros seem so great that any comparisons between the two are pretty much irrelevant.

That’s true. The real issue at stake here is the true meaning of being called a “champion.”
In Homerism’s opinion, Pittsburgh is a worthy champion, not just because it won the last game of the season against a mediocre NFC team. The Steelers ran up a sterling record against one of the hardest schedules in NFL history. They had the kind of postseason AND regular season that merited the title of champion. It feels like a satisfying conclusion to the season.
At the end of this past college football regular season, the tiresome debate of who the two “best” teams were ensued. Media bloviators began piping in with their own opinions about quality wins and losses, conference strength and style points. In the end, the BCS system spit out Florida and Oklahoma as the two title game participants.
Were Florida and Oklahoma the two best teams? Would both have beaten USC or Utah at Dolphins Stadium on Jan. 8? Who’s to say.
Keeping the Cardinals in mind, though, maybe we need to rethink what we’re trying to determine in college football. Homerism would contend that the chance to play for the college football national championship shouldn’t go to the “best” teams, but the teams that had “the best seasons.”
A champion should be the team that earns it, week in and week out. Everything should count. Let’s forget about trying to figure out who the best team is, and worry about who had the best year.