The 2017-18 NFL season will come to an end this Sunday with the Super Bowl in Minnesota. This season, more than any other, has been filled with many topics outside of football.
There was a weekly political protest and a president questioning the league, questions about concussive injuries and endless controversies over questionable calls by officials.
The instant replay and high-tech analyses seem to have taken momentum out of the game and stolen fan excitement for the game. Endless called penalties on every kicking play or deep pass turned into boredom for many who love the game. TV ratings were down, and Thursday night games thought to be ridiculous by most people, including the players.
Still, the facts bear out that people watch more football games in the regular season in October than watch the NBA Finals or the World Series. Pro football is still the No. 1-watched sport in America. It has a lot of problems to solve, but those problems have not yet taken the sport out of favor for most sports fans.
A few of my acquaintances indicated to me that they do not plan to watch the Super Bowl this year as a protest. There are many who take that stance, and they have a right to their opinion. However, no doubt the Super Bowl this year will still be one of the top three television programs watched in 2018.
Super Bowl Sunday, like it or not, has become an American tradition. It is obvious according to the dollars invested by corporations and big businesses in the event. The halftime production is a happening by itself.
I never lose sight of the game itself. Football is the ultimate team sport. A successful team must have 11 guys on the field working together on every play. You must be able to play both defense and offense as one. Special teams add a vital third dimension to the game.
The New England Patriots are a familiar face in this year’s Super Bowl. Bill Belichick will once again lead the charge to win another title. Many faithful football fans throughout the country have grown tired of hearing about Belichick and his quarterback, Tom Brady. Even as a Patriot hater, the dynasty these two guys have built together deserves respect. They know how to win and how to screen out all the outside noise. Jealousy can create a dislike for successful teams and coaches.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a mirror opposite of the Patriots. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and have a second-year coach, Doug Pederson, who is starting a backup quarterback, Nick Foles. The Eagles and the Philly fans are hard-nosed and on a mission. They have a great defense and appear to be peaking at the right time with their backup quarterback on offense.
This group of Eagles will no doubt come out early in the game on the hunt. They will be ready to play but need to steer clear of the Patriot trap of getting too high or too aggressive too early. New England coaches and players have experience in this position. They know how to use the two weeks before the Super Bowl to prepare.
New England may not have had the most impressive or illustrious season in their history, but they still know how to win! Even if Rob Gronkowski is not at full speed, they will be Super Bowl prepared.
An advantage for the Eagles is fire in the belly. If Pederson can keep that fire directed in the right way, the Eagles have a real shot to make this a great Super Bowl.
All teams tend to get conservative any time they get on top of the Patriots and instead of playing to win, they play to not lose. It is a bad idea against the Patriots to try to run out the clock. The only way to beat Belichick and Brady is stay aggressive and put the hammer down. If they sense you are going into a shell, they will eat you alive.
The Eagles will have to attack, attack and attack. Do not try to out think yourself. If the blitz is working in pressuring Brady keep coming. You never have enough points on the board when you are playing the Patriots.
I bet 80 percent of the country will be cheering for the Eagles this year. I am cheering for the Eagles and hope they win, but I am betting on the Patriots and giving 3 points. Either way let’s just enjoy the game and put all the other garbage behind us.
• Why do they still have an NFL Pro Bowl?!
• My quote of the week comes from former NFL coach Bum Phillips: “If we have been practicing terrible, then we’ll play terrible. We always go out and play like we practice.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.