Monday, February 05, 2007

XLI Recap, Etc.

First, I'm flattered that Good Hope Orange thinks I have enough influence to affect the outcome of a major sporting event -- but I know better. (If that were the case, Illinois would have played Michigan State instead of North Carolina for the 2005 NCAA Championship.)

Second, congrats to Kelvin Hayden on making Super Bowl history (10th interception returned for a touchdown).

I am a Bears fan, and I will gladly resurrect the Super Bowl Shuffle again next season, provided they hold on to key players (Lance Briggs, etc.) and continue to improve. But the passion of college sports comes first for me. In fact, I spent much of this season learning to cheer for Rex, even though he left Big Ten country for Florida. I must admit that though it often was hard to watch Orton play, I found it easier to cheer for him than Grossman. And perhaps the reason I backed Lovie's unwavering support of Rex all season was a subconscious aversion to Michigan (sorry, Griese).

[Side note: I have come far enough that I can't blame the Bear's loss solely on Rex. You can't let a team with a future hall-of-fame quarterback run at will. A few more stops in the second quarter would have been helpful. However, don't expect me to cheer whole-heartedly for Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon & company anytime soon -- that would go against the very fiber of my college basketball being. I'll take the Deron Williams-led Jazz in SLC over the Bulls tonight. Oh, and even though it's after the fact, you may find the Jazz Super Bowl picks amusing.]

I was heartbroken that the Bears couldn't pull it out yesterday. But it helped that a former Illini was part of the reason. It also helped that Coach Dungy was the mastermind on the other sideline. In my opinion, the interview (James Brown with SB Coaches) with head coaches/friends Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith prior to the game was the highlight of the pre-game coverage. And I appreciated their post-game congratulations, as well.

XLI was exciting -- if sloppy -- football until Rex's second interception. The opening kick-off return looked a bit like Ted Ginn's, and the score could have been just as ugly as Ohio State's given the way the Bears played after the first quarter. Missed handoffs, tackles, field goals and extra points gave fans on both sides plenty to cheer and lament. The Bears heart and desire were evident in that they were still in the game midway through the 4th quarter. Plus, the action on the field made up for the mediocre commercials. I thought Blockbuster was the most memorable.

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