You know what the true benefit of having a Super Bowl ring is? You get a hall pass to life. People can't tell you nothing. Personally, I have always liked Joe Flacco, his outrageous Delawurr/Jersey accent, and the way he has shrugged off all the spittle-flecked "he can't lead the Ravens to the promised land" garbage. Now he has a time share in the promised land, and he can give people that M.I.A. middle finger with a Super Bowl ring on it. All this leads us to this fantastic quote from Kevin Van Valkenburg's awesome ESPN The Magazine profile of the Ravens QB:
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
I don't know if something as unabashedly macro as the Super Bowl could ever be considered a microcosm for anything, but here's what I'd say: It seems almost stupidly fitting, after a season in which the NFL's commissioner displayed an uncharacteristic surplus of political ineptitude, that the league could not manage to keep its own power on. And it seems just as fitting that one of the more entertaining NFL seasons in recent memory climaxed near the goal line, with a quarterback who represents the possibilities of the future ultimately in charge of the game's result. The NFL is great, and the NFL is dysfunctional. It lives in the light, and it lives in the dark. — Michael Weinreb
Super Bowl XLVII was also the final game for one of the legends of an era, Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis, who has seen his share of controversy throughout his career, left the stage with his trademark piety, saying, "Man, I didn't play well enough for us to win, but the team and God really picked me up. Haven't gotten away with anything like that in a loooooong time." Lewis then winked, pointed to the sky, and said, "I owe you one, big guy!" God responded, "Dude owes me more than one. Way more. Man, sometimes I have no idea why I keep bailing him out. But we go way back. I dunno, Pete is telling me to cut him off, but then I see those big sweet eyes, and I just can't help myself."
It’s here. Super Bowl XLVII. The biggest betting day of the year. Hundreds of propositions available to wager on. It’s very sad that my wife getting a Valentine’s Day gift is completely dependent upon what color Gatorade is poured on the winning Harbaugh’s head.
But I’m not too worried, as I’ve been on a Rain Man–esque gambling roll lately. I crushed my theoretical bookie on championship weekend, amassing 472,000 jermajesties* — taking my season-long total to a whopping (and I mean a short, pudgy Italian whopping) 612,500 jermajesties overall. Still a bit shy of our goal of 1 million jermajesties, but that’s what Super Bowl Sunday is for. Follow my lead and let’s go to Disney World together.
(*Obligatory weekly explanation: A “jermajesty” represents the fake name given for a dollar amount in this blog. It’s also the unfortunate name of one of Jermaine Jackson’s sons.)
When I decided to count down the 22 most important players in Sunday’s Super Bowl, I didn’t imagine it was going to be all that hard. I mean, there are 44 total starters; picking half of them should be doable. Then I actually started.
Let me first explain what this list is actually supposed to represent. These aren’t the 22 best players in the Super Bowl or the 22 players I expect to make the biggest impact. This is my best attempt at figuring out which 22 players matter most, and that proved to be more difficult than I’d planned.
Even with some cheating (a few guys at similar positions are listed together, so actually there are 27 players. I'm not sorry), there are some notable omissions that I don’t feel great about. Jonathan Goodwin has been one of the best centers in football this year, but for the purposes of this list, he’s out. Not a single Ravens cornerback is listed, which isn’t to say that Corey Graham and Cary Williams won’t play a part; it’s to say that how San Francisco uses Michael Crabtree doesn’t make one side or area of the field more important than another. Dennis Pitta has been invaluable for the Ravens’ offense since Jim Caldwell took over, but I still think he’s been Joe Flacco’s third most important receiver in the playoffs. With all that in mind, here are the guys who actually did make the final cut.
[Editor’s note: An old friend called and asked if he could take over today's column. He sounded really sad and desperate on the phone, so I agreed.]
In case you were too busy NOT being the greatest shortstop AND third baseman of all time, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Hey guys, future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez here. Spike asked me to take ALN off of his hands for the day, and I generously agreed. I figured I could use humor to start getting back into America's good graces after a not so great day of news for me. Hey, it's like they always say, when life gives you deer poop, kill the deer and drink the liquefied remains of their antlers. Hehe. OK, let's go.
We're going to start with my favorite sport other than baseball, and that's NBA basketball. Last night the Los Angeles Lakers of Los Angeles played the New Orleans Hornets at home. (Oh wait, I wrote Los Angeles twice. How do you erase words that you already wrote? I guess it's not technically wrong I'll leave it.) Before the game, I gave my best friend Kobe Bryant like 15 phone calls to be like, "Hey, bud, how's it going?" cuz I could really use a pick-me-up, but he must've been busy or something because he never answered. Anyway, he's a great friend, and the Lakers won, 111-106.
Grantland's Rembert Browne is in New Orleans for Super Bowl week, and he has some very specific goals in mind: (1) to chronicle everything seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and felt — emotionally, (2) to wake up first and fall asleep last, (3) to make his way into events he has no business attending, and (4) to somehow talk to Beyoncé. We don't exactly know where he'll be at any given time, but we've asked for at least two dispatches a day, if for no other reason than to know he's still alive.
Tuesday, January 29. 3:15 p.m. CST. Approximately 124 hours until Beyoncé.
The Scene: Super Bowl Media Day. Immediate Reaction: A zoo, but between the media and the athletes in attendance, it was unclear who were the spectators and who were the animals.
The Rules: Each team enters the arena for about an hour, with the more prominent players and coaches having personalized booths set up to sit and field questions, with the rest of the lot roaming the grounds, doing whatever they please, until someone stops them and asks to talk.
Sports Illustratedis reporting that Ray Lewis took deer-antler pills to more quickly heal his torn triceps. Shortly after his injury occurred, this past October, the Ravens linebacker allegedly contacted a company called S.W.A.T.S. and got on a totally normal rehab program of hologram stickers, regenerative light therapy, negatively charged water, the aforementioned deer-antler pills, and, as a digestif, deer-antler velvet extract (a.k.a. The Ultimate Spray), which Lewis was instructed to spray under his tongue. Aside from making the linebacker sound like a practicing Druid, the deer-antler stuff reportedly contains IGF-1, a banned substance in the NFL.
What the S.I. investigation only hints at is a larger story that Grantland's Triangle Investigates team has been pursuing for months: the wanton abuse of powders, elixirs, potions, and emulsions from wild-animal skeletons that's rampant among Baltimore Ravens defensive players. Prepare to have your world turned upside down.
My friend Garrett, of Boston, has been calling Ravens QB Joe Flacco "FlaccoLOL" all year. Every one of those Bad Joe Flacco Games this season, with the zero touchdown passes and zero completed passes and fumbles everywhere, is followed soon thereafter by a stupid text message from Garrett about "FlaccoLOL" and how he sucks and is not an Elite Quarterback. "FlaccoLOL" — is this a funny name? No. Well, it's fine.
As a Marylander, I'm used to this sort of unfunny abuse from our breathless national treasures to the north, the Massachusetts sports fans. And while they've usually gotten the upper hand, nothing's better than seeing them called out, beaten, and sucking for air. So when Garrett suggested I trek up to Foxborough for the AFC Championship — "You could crash in our guest room and cry into your FlaccoLOL jersey" — what else was a starving freelance writer to do other than spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the possibility of schadenfreude?
On any given Sunday (or Monday or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Anquan Boldin: Hall of Famer?
Anquan Boldin has not made a Pro Bowl since leaving the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the 2009 season. He has not had a 1,000-yard season in Baltimore, and the beast who caught 11 touchdowns in 2008 has been limited to a total of seven touchdowns in his past two seasons. Up until these playoffs, Boldin had mostly fallen off the casual fan's radar — if your interactions with the NFL come mostly from highlights, fantasy, and Red Zone, you might have even forgotten that Anquan Boldin was still in the league.
Since Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he will retire at the end of Baltimore's season, his quest for another Super Bowl victory to cap his Hall of Fame career has become one of the biggest story lines of the NFL playoffs. But despite his on-field accomplishments, Lewis's legacy will be tainted by the events of January 31, 2000, for some. Early that morning in Atlanta, a brawl broke out, two were found dead, and Lewis, along with two others, was charged with murder the next day. But it's been nearly 13 years since then and many have forgotten the details. Below is a timeline of the events surrounding that incident as provided by media coverage and witness testimonies.