My history with the Super Bowl goes back to my freshman year in college. Even though I lived in the dorms on campus, the drive home was only forty-five minutes, so I made the trip to watch the first of the now 48 Super Bowls with my step father. He was an avid football fan, having played high school ball, and then for the University of Alabama back in 1930. My own time playing football was not nearly so illustrious – mostly due to the fact that we were in Europe for three years during the years I might have learned to play the game. But such was not to be.
Early on I was a Dallas Cowboys fan believing them to be “America’s Team.” In particular, I liked Roger Staubach, especially since he had won the Heisman Trophy while playing at the Naval Academy. And Coach Tom Landry was a class act. The Cowboys managed to play in five Super Bowls during the 70s, winning two. I parted company with the Cowboys in 1989 when they acquired a new owner and a new head coach. At that point, I shifted to the San Francisco 49ers.
Since I was born and raised in New England my default team has always been the Boston Patriots, later changed to the New England Patriots. With the 49ers in the NFC and the Patriots in the AFC they rarely play each other. A couple of weeks ago I envisioned Super Bowl 48 being played between Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers against Tom Brady and the Patriots. And if that scenario did not work out, I figured at least one of those two teams would make it into the Big Game. Alas and Alack, ‘twas not to be.
Okay then! The Broncos and the Seahawks. Number one offense against the number one defense. Should be a great game! Not so fast!
So I’ve had my nap and the game is to start in about a half hour. I wasn’t too particular as to which team I was going to root for. I settled on the Denver Broncos for a couple of reasons. First, Payton Manning. Second, the Broncos’ experience. Third, Broncos’ corps of receivers. Fourth, Cornerback Sherman seriously prejudiced me against the Seahawks after his childish, churlish rant in defeating the 49ers two weeks prior. Anyway, I figured the game was going to be close in the first half with Denver salting it away in the second half. So much for my faulty analysis and lame prognostications.
From the kick-off I could see that the Broncos were not making good decisions. The kick-returner chose to run the ball out from deep in the end zone. This proved unwise, since the first snap to Manning from center was errant and cost them a safety. I was speechless! A dark cloud rolled into the living room and parked itself there for the remainder of the game.
The Seahawks came into the game with an enormous amount of energy and fire. From the first play of the game until the last seconds ticked off the clock, Seattle played a tough, physical, aggressive game and totally smothered the Broncos. But at the halftime it was 22 to 0. My wife, who is no football fan, sat in the living room with me and occasionally made a comment about what was happening in the game. Even with her untrained eye for football she could see that things were not going well for Denver. My periodic gasps, grunts, and groans lent themselves to her accurate perception of a game going bad for the boys in orange.
As the first half ended I tried to put a good face on this train wreck. Payton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to ever have played in the NFL. If anyone could mount a charge and bring their team back from the brink of Super Bowl oblivion, Payton could. As I have often said to my wife, “You never count the score at halftime.”
Whatever hopes the Broncos had were dashed, and the game was, for all intents and purposes, over in the first play to start the second half. The Seattle kick returner caught the ball and ran it all the way to the end zone for a touchdown, sealing the fate of the Denver Broncos. At that point the game could not end soon enough for the boys from Colorado. Sure they managed to finally score a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, but it was cosmetic at best.
Ever the consummate gentleman, Payton Manning handled himself well in defeat. But I was particularly impressed with the young, second-year quarterback for Seattle, Russell Wilson. He demonstrated a grasp of the game for someone so inexperienced. His demeanor was very much like Joe Montana when he was “Joe Cool” with the 49ers. And Wilson was quick to express his thanks to God for the opportunity to play football in the NFL and to be in the Super Bowl. I like this guy!
The Denver Broncos simply found themselves bowled over by a much better team in the Seattle Seahawks.