Enough with the noise, the analysis, the storylines — let’s go play football on Super Bowl Sunday.
I don’t want to hear any more sermons from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis on his farewell tour. He calls the media evil for covering his life and career the way they have, wanting everyone to forget the 2000 stabbing of two men in a group he was a part of.
Maybe we shouldn’t cover his pregame dance routine either. He is still a good player, but he took it over the top this week with his Ringmaster Ray, Revival Ray, Saint Lewis stuff.
Enough too of Randy Moss, the San Francisco receiver — Mr. Me-Myself-and-I. He proclaimed he was the greatest receiver in NFL history. But the stat sheet says only 9th in the history of receptions and third in yardage and not number one in touchdowns.
Jerry Rice is atop all those charts. In fact, fellow loud mouth Terrell Owens tops Moss in some categories, too.
No, I will remember Moss for quitting on his teams and telling us “I play when I want to play.”
And then there was the stupidity of slurs that came out of the mouth of San Francisco corner Chris Culliver about gays, saying, “I don’t do this gay thing. If you are one of them, get up and get out. Can’t be that sweet stuff around this team.”
Of course, the apology was sincere. Some PR intern was sincere when he wrote it. What an idiot, insulting the gay community of San Francisco.
And we had the cold-callous comments of Baltimore safety Ed Reed, chiding the family of Junior Seau for his death and the lawsuit filed last week when he said, “He knew what he signed up for–don’t be suing.” Ed, don’t be hating a family still hurting.
And even the Harbaugh brothers, who will stare and glare at each other from across the field as coaches, added to the zoo.
Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh talked about backyard fights with brother Jim. The Niners coach responded about Twitter as being a waste of my time.
Come Sunday, John will be calm, cool and collected. Jim will be wearing his heart on his sleeve and there will be emotional spillover on the sidelines if things don’t go well.
And there is just a little bit of New Orleans venom coming towards Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell’s friend, the former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is facing 21 counts of fraud for kickbacks on contracts in the rebuilding of the city after Katrina.
Jail time awaits him, much like hate-time awaits Goodell for his heavy-handed tactics in the New Orleans Saints bounty club. Wait for the cheers in the game and the boos when the commissioner shows up on the field.
As for the game, it is fascinating.
The Ravens, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, have won games in Denver and in New England to get here. They have gotten hot, gotten healthy and gotten dangerous down the field with their big play passing attack.
Flacco came out throwing and beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and might be the most under-rated, most disrespected big game quarterback in the league. And when he is not hitting passes to Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith or tight end Dennis Pitta, they do run and throw to Ray Rice.
On defense, the Ravens are fast, physical and get after you. Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody, complemented by pass rushers Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger, are a load to deal with. Lewis and his linebackers are everywhere, and that secondary, Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard will knock your block off.
San Francisco is not some run-of-the-mill team, just glad to be at the Super Bowl. They play with fire and brimstone, fueled by their coach. A year ago this week, they had a very good defense and a pedestrian offense. They play Sunday now with a dangerous offense, led by rookie QB Colin Kaepernick and a violent defense, as big and tough as any around.
Kaepernick makes things happen with his “pistol” offense — he can run with it, hand it off and throw off their formations. Tight end Vernon Davis and big play receiver Michael Crabtree get open. And tough guy inside running back Frank Gore will just keep pounding the rock until you go down.
And then on defense, the Niners are equal, at least in their front seven, to the Ravens. Patrick Willis is one of the best linebackers in the league. Their pass rushers, Smith and Smith — Justin and Aldon — do come off the edge.
I expect Flacco to hit on big plays. I don’t know if Ray Rice can run on these guys. I expect the two weeks prep time helps the Ravens configure a way to slow down Kaepernick and that offense, but you still have to make plays. You might contain him for two series, but what happens on the third and fourth possessions? The kid QB does not seem to get rattled on the big stage.
Maybe this is a standoff. Don’t think it will be a shootout. It might be a slug fest. The field goal kickers might decide this game.
There will be serious moments come Sunday. A choir representing the grieving community of Newtown, Connecticut, will sing the anthem. There will be a salute to former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance, wheel-chair bound, unable to speak and dying at age 43 of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There should be a salute for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, benched at midseason with an injury, who never got his job back and will likely be released despite a 104 quarterback rating. He never complained, just became a teammate and showed great class.
This has been a wild week. Maybe this will be a wild game at the Superdome in New Orleans. I will pick the Niners 24-17 over the Ravens.
What a week. I spent the whole week talking about murders, the religious revival linebacker, a homophobic cornerback, deer antler juice and Twitter accounts.
By the way, there is still a game to be played, too.
Who do you pick to win the big game? Tell us in the comments section below: