Speed Read: Hey, It Could’ve Been Ravens-Eagles

Did you enjoy your Sunday night? Good, because it was the final eve before your inevitable onslaught of storylines involving the unlikely Arizona Cardinals and the storied Pittsburgh Steelers. Ken Whisenhunt meets his old employer. Larry Fitzgerald gets to show off his skills against his alma mater’s city. Um .. the Steelers punter played for the Cardinals last … year … zzzzzzzz. So while you stock up on hardtack and duct tape as you hunker in your bunker, just pretend how fun it would be had Sunday’s losers have actually won.

Bizarro Super Bowl XLIII

It’s a battle of redemption versus repetition. Donovan McNabb, having been benched earlier in the year, is now 2-1 in NFC Championship games and getting to start his second Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco became the first-ever rookie quarterback to even be in a Super Bowl. And John Harbaugh, the first-year head coach, can follow in the footsteps of Baltimore coaching icon Don McCafferty in trying to win a Super Bowl as a rookie head coach. Home teams are now a stunning 3-7 in the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl will finally see two Wild Card teams face off. And, of course, what are the odds? The last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, the site of the game was … Tampa.

Andy Reid playoff beard

And what of beleaguered head coach Andy Reid and his sudden stubble? We’ve only known of the portly Philly coach as having a clean chin and a scraggly mustache. Now his playoff beard, a trend among hockey players and some basketballers, could now catch on when it comes to the head of NFL teams. Especially if the Eagles can win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, giving the City of Brudderly Love two championships in as many pro sports finals. Does this mean the 76ers have a chance this year? (Spoiler: No, it does not.)

Ray Lewis murder trial

But the most gripping storyline is probably Ray Lewis. Yes, he was a Super Bowl MVP the year after being charged with murder stemming from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the time he wasn’t wholly embraced as a household figure. All he’s done since being acquitted of murder is play tremendous football and be the face of an NFL team — as a linebacker. That’s no small feat, and maybe Brian Urlacher of the Bears can say the same thing, but quarterbacks are supposed to be synonymous with a franchise. Now he can play for the Super Bowl ring with the stigma of his checkered past mostly gone … and maybe this time, American can embrace him.

Bizarro Super Bowl Quarterback

Er, anyways, back to reality.

  • Thanks, ST. PETE TIMES, for putting out all the story lines for the Cardinals and the Steelers in digestible, organized fashion. Now turn off your laptop and TV, go out, and jog off some extra pounds.
  • THE 700 LEVEL is understandably crestfallen over the Eagles loss
  • …while THE EBONY BIRD is equally scatterbrained and searching for answers.
  • An astute FLICKR user (Flickerer?) caught one Steelers sign whose author knows the history of the NFL dating back to at least the mid-90s:

    Steelers sign about Ravens

  • ESPN seems like it’s a little early for another contrived feature meant to generate useless discussions … but here it is. “Mt. Rushmore of Sports” has fans figure out who the best four sports figures from each state are. For once, the South Dakota version will look extremely boring.
  • Avalanche teammates Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk had a lot in common after Sunday’s game … “You scored your 300th goal today? OMG me too!
  • Oh, hell. I knew I had January 17th marked on my calendar for a reason, but I forgot about Curtis Granderson’s charity basketball game featuring Kid Rock getting fazed by one of his hallucinations … oh, wait, that actually is a large fluffy tiger.
  • The unemployment rate in MLB is over 50 percent … well, if you only count the players that wanted to sign for another team.
  • Arkansas freshman basketball player Brandon Moore wins the traffic infraction bingo game: DWI, reckless driving, no insurance, no registration, and fake ID. He didn’t even need to use the free space!
  • And finally … Jim Rice blames Big Stein for never winning a World Series. Steinbrenner, if you recall, let a ground ball go through his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

It’s been less than 24 hours … which SBXLIII story line are you already sick of?

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