A LOOK BACK AT THE SUPERBOWL AND A LOOK FORWARD TO SUPER TUESDAY:
THE CHANTS OF “1918” WILL NOW BE REPLACED WITH “19: 18 (AND 1)”
Whoever thought an 18-1 season could be a failure? The 18-1 season that ended yesterday for New England with a 17-14 loss to the NY Giants in Superbowl XLII was just that; a tremendous failure. How different this season could have been for the New England Patriots. They added three stellar wide-receivers in Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth. They had a golden boy quarterback, a genius coach, and a top notch defense. Week one started with a 38-14 win over the Jets in New York. The Patriots won the game but illegally taped the Jets during the game. The Jets coach, Eric Mangini (a former assistant of New England coach Bill Belichick) knew of the Patriots taping techniques and decided to blow the whistle. The league investigated and wound up fining Belichick $500,000 and stripping New England of their first round draft pick. “Spy-gate” (what the media has dubbed the scandal) also raised questions of how long the Pats had been breaking the rules (cheating) and the legitimacy of their previous regular season, and post-season, victories. The Patriots seemed unaffected as they built upon their week one success with victory after victory: 5-0, 10-0, 15-0, and finally after beating the NY Giants in the last week of the season by three points, 16-0; the undefeated regular season. The first 16-0 regular season in history (The 1972 Dolphins had gone 14-0 during the regular season and capped it off with the first undefeated season in history after winning the Superbowl). They rested through their first round playoff bye. Then the Jacksonville Jaguars came to Foxborough. They too fell to the mighty Patriots. Next up was the San Diego Chargers. The team that felt the Patriots had disrespected them on their home field in the playoffs the season before. Had the Chargers been at full strength with a healthy Rivers, Tomlinson, and Gates, things might have been different; but no excuses. The Patriots won the game, improved to 18-0, and punched their ticket to Superbowl XLII in Arizona. They stood on the cusp of history. Vegas listed them as 14 point favorites (which was eventually lowered to 12). Everyone was ready to crown them the greatest team in football history. 19-0, 4 titles in 7 years, and a quarterback who had matched his boyhood idol Joe Montana by going 4-0 in his first four Superbowls. The only problem? The Giants obviously didn’t get the memo. Plaxico Burress predicted a Giants win and was laughed at. Tom Brady actually laughed at Plaxico’s prediction that the Patriots would only score 17 points. In the end, they didn’t even score that many. The Giants showed up ready to play. The Patriots looked as if they had shown up to cash in on their birthright. They went for it on 4th and 13 early in the game instead of attempting a 48 yard field goal that could have given them the three points that they eventually lost by. With less than 3 minutes left in the game, his team down four points, Eli Manning (who I have vocally dismissed as a sub-par QB many times) drove his team down the field like a cool, calm, collected pro and scored the game winning touchdown (throwing the winning pass to none other than Plaxico Burress). The Giants defense sacked Tom Brady all night long making him ineffective. The Giants were the better team. With one second left on the clock and one play remaining, Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick left his team on the field, abandoning them, and headed to the locker room instead of staying to congratulate Eli or any of the Giants players. For a man who claims to have great respect for the game of football, I found this to be a totally classless act by Belichick.
The Giants (who went 10-6 during the regular season including that week 17 loss to the Patriots) won three straight road playoff games (over Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Green Bay) on their way to winning the Superbowl on a neutral site. They finished the season 14-6. They finished the season as champions. The Patriots finished 18-1. They finished as failures. Now there are new Spy-gate allegations including one that the Patriots filmed the Ram’s final walk through before beating them to win their first Superbowl in 2001. If this is true, The NFL has reserved the right to levy additional penalties against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Could this include stripping them of Superbowl titles? Only time will tell. How different this season could have been. If the Patriots had started off the season with a loss to the Jets and had then won eighteen straight, they still would have finished the season 18-1, they would have won eighteen straight games to get there, they would have won their 4th Superbowl in seven years, and Spy-gate might never have come to light. If the Patriots had lost their week 17 game against the Giants, but still finished 18-1, they would have still won the Superbowl. The perfection of the first eighteen games is certainly a difficult feat, but it means nothing without the Lombardi Trophy to cap off the season. In the end, the Pats won eighteen straight, were shown to be cheaters, were shown to have a classless coach, and will be marked as the biggest chokers in NFL history. After listening to the Pats’ players talk about all the “Humble Pie” Belichick fed them all season long, I think it’s safe to assume that they choked on it. If I were them, I’d work on chewing techniques before next season.
KNIGHT IN PATRIOT ARMOR
One day removed from the Superbowl I want to be the first uncover a little “smoke and mirrors” move between coaching friends. Last Tuesday, during Superbowl media day, New England Coach Bill Belichick discussed his relationship with Bob Knight (coach of Texas Tech’s men’s basketball team) and other successful coaches. Knight and Belichick met through Bill Parcels, Belichick’s former boss when the two won Super Bowl championships with the Giants in 1986 and 1990.
According to Belichick, he and Knight often talk about coaching. The two men have each won three championships in their respective sports as head coaches.
“It’s not specific to football or basketball,” Belichick elaborated, “but more just how to be a coach.”
He also said that he and Knight have discussed how to handle players and prepare for big games, something the Patriots have gotten used to in the past seven seasons.
“There’s nobody I have more respect for in the coaching fraternity than Coach Knight,” Belichick said. “He’s been very helpful.”
Hmmm. How helpful? So helpful that a day after Belichick lost the biggest game of his career and is being called classless and a cheater by members of the media across the nation, that Knight would suddenly retire from coaching without notice after more than forty seasons and 900 victories? Even those closest to Knight are saying that his retirement comes as a total shock. Why now? Why not wait until the end of the season to let his son take the reigns as head coach? Very few sports stories could take attention away from the Patriots loss and Belichick’s actions after the game (let alone the new Spy-gate allegations). The retirement of Bobby Knight (which many expected to come at the end of this season anyway) is one of them. It smells a little fishy to me. Personally, I’m happy to see the Patriots lose, Belichick’s “genius” and sportsmanship questioned, and Bobby Knight no longer able to terrorize players, refs, and journalists.
LET’S MAKE SURE TO PUT THE SUPER, IN SUPER TUESDAY
I would like to start off by officially endorsing Barack Obama for President on this Super Tuesday. While I believe that Hilary Clinton would represent a change for this country, and it would be important to have a woman as President, I don't think she offers enough change. She is part of the Clinton machine. After 8 years of Clinton, and 8 horrible years of Bush, I think Obama would do more to unify the country and usher in an era of true change. I believe it would not only be a great leap to have an African-American as president, but to have such an inspiring man as president. If you have never taken the time to listen to one of Obama's speeches, take a minute, Google his speeches, and listen for a few minutes before you head out to vote. If you’re too lazy for that, just click on this link http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=131284&fr= for one of my personal favorites. Don’t just read one of his speeches; listen to him speak. Of course in the end it is your right to vote for whichever candidate you like but I'd been asked my opinion by several readers so I wanted to share my endorsement. Above all I urge you to vote, regardless of who you vote for. Make your voice heard.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
A good friend of mine sent me the following email (slightly edited) this week and I wanted to share it with all of you. The messages in the email, as well as on the site she suggests visiting, are worth repeating:
Since I’ve received so many forwards from people touting the qualities of Barack Obama (and sometimes Hillary Clinton) as a presidential candidate, I thought I’d send out a little critique of these two. Especially for those of you that rely on mainstream media to get your election news, this is a great reason why Indymedia and other non-mainstream sources (like the fabulous http://www.spoonfulloftruth.com/) offer an important perspective that I hope we won’t ignore merely because the Bush regime scares us.
Thanks for taking the time to think critically J
WITH THAT OUT OF THE WAY, LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE ACTUAL ELECTION PROCESS
Primaries…How do they work? You would think it would just be simple. Whichever Democrat gets the most votes should get the endorsement, right? Not so fast. There is the ridiculous system of delegates to work through. Not only is the system in which delegates are divided, awarded, and disallowed confusing, but candidates can also award delegates they received to other delegates. This means that John Edwards for example, once counted out of the race, could award his delegates to either Clinton or Obama in return for the becoming Veep or having some of his policies instated, and all but decide the nomination for himself. Let’s try to clear up a little of the confusion.
*All states do not have the same amount of Delegates. There is a huge variation. The most populous states like California, Texas, and New York, have many times more delegates than the smallest states.
*The goal of all candidates is to win the support of as many delegates as possible, as early as possible in the primary season. Not all delegates have to vote at the convention in accordance with the result of the primaries and caucuses. Only a certain number of pledged delegates have to follow the vote, determined by the result of the primary or caucus in their state. The rest compromise the unpledged delegates.
*Pledged delegates form a majority (about 80% of the total).
*Unpledged delegates are free to choose which candidate to support.
The unpledged delegates are mostly high-ranking party officials such as members of Congress and state governors. (The Democrats call them Superdelegates.)
*In a close race, candidates have to make a large effort to woo the unpledged delegates, as well as campaigning for the support of ordinary voters.
*Only a simple majority of delegates is required for the nomination.
Let’s continue with a little Q&A on the subject courtesy of BBC:
Is the number of pledged delegates a candidate wins in a primary or caucus always proportionate to the number of votes he or she receives?
No, not always. The rules vary from state to state and from party to party.
In some states the Republicans operate a winner-takes-all system, where the candidate who wins the most support state-wide gets all the delegates.
In others, the winner-takes-all principle operates at the level of congressional districts: the candidate who does best in a district wins all the delegates available in that district.
The Republicans also use a proportional system in some states.
The Democrats always use some form of proportional system, but even then a candidate's share of the vote in a state and his or her share of the delegates can turn out to be quite different.
For example, when delegates are awarded on the basis of results in individual congressional districts, the rules do not guarantee strict proportionality.
It's possible for one candidate to beat the other soundly in a district with an even number of delegates, but for the delegates to be split between them equally.
Meanwhile, in a district with an odd number of delegates even a narrow win gives the winner an extra delegate.
Are delegates awarded immediately after the primary or caucus?
After a primary, which takes the form of a state-wide ballot, delegates are usually awarded quickly.
But caucuses are a different matter. The candidates and the media focus only on the first stage of the caucus, when precincts choose delegates to send to the county caucuses.
It's only much later, at the state convention, that delegates for the national party convention are finally chosen.
This does not stop experts projecting the final allocation of delegates from the results of the precinct caucuses.
Major US media employ their own experts, who produce their own, often conflicting, calculations, within hours of the result.
When do unpledged delegates declare their support for a candidate?
They can do this any time they like. They can also change their mind before the convention.
How tightly bound are pledged delegates to a given candidate?
It varies from state to state. In some cases they are not really bound at all, and the distinction between pledged and unpledged delegates is all but meaningless.
In others they may be bound to support a given candidate in the first ballot held at the convention, and then be free to make their own choice.
Or they may be bound to support the candidate through two, or three, rounds of voting, or even all the way to the final vote of the convention.
If no candidate accumulates a winning number of delegates before the convention, then what?
A convention that begins without a clear winner is referred to as a brokered, or contested convention.
If no winner emerges from the early ballots, the rivals may have to negotiate.
If candidate X offers candidate Y the Vice-Presidency, say, candidate Y's supporters may then help candidate X defeat candidate Z.
Could the numbers of delegates at the convention change?
As things stand, the Democratic convention will have 4,049 delegates in total and the Republican convention will have 2,380.
However, these figures would have been higher if the Democratic Party had not barred all delegates from Florida and Michigan, and the Republican Party had not disqualified half the delegates from these two states, and from New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wyoming.
If the race is still undecided in either party by the time of the conventions come around, the pressure for the disqualified delegates to be re-admitted could become intense.
Hillary Clinton is already lobbying to have the Democratic delegates from Florida and Michigan reinstated.
ALL THAT INFORMATION MADE MY HEAD HURT. I SHOULD GO OUTSIDE, GET SOME FRESH AIR, AND VOTE!
I hope you enjoyed this SUPER edition of the Spoon. It was fun to look back at the SUPERbowl, as well as ahead to the excitement of this SUPER Tuesday. Please take a moment today to share the link to this site with a few people and above all else, VOTE.