I do not watch pro football very much anymore. I grew up a Niners fan, living and dying with them since I was 10. And there was a lot of dying in those early years. I cried when the dreaded Cowboys knocked the Niners out of the playoffs in the early 70s.
But the 80s changed all that. I had an inkling when they beat the Cowboys 48-14 in the 1981 season that maybe the corner had been turned. And in retrospect, it had. In fact as I said then, a dynasty was about to be born.
And it was a great ride. Montana, Lott, Hicks, Rice, Craig – not unlike Gronkowski and Brady of today’s Patriots. Those Niners greats could be counted on to come into my living room every weekend, year in and year out.
I used to work for a football camp that had sites all over the country, and one of my duties was picking up coaches at the airports. I picked up a coach from the Texans one time, and he seemed surprised that I was not enamored with the fact that he was a pro coach. As we discussed the game, I told him I did not even watch very much of it any more.
He asked why, and I told him about the 80s and the consistency with the Niners roster and how today players change teams like I change socks, displaying no loyalty to anything but the almighty dollar yet the owners expect the fans to keep coming back. (Millionaires playing for billionaires that do not care about the rest of us at all is the way I put it.)
He told me that I needed to root for the laundry and to me, rooting for the laundry meant rooting for penalty flags! He meant rooting for the uniform regardless of who was wearing it.
Between the lack of team loyalty and my weekend schedule with youth and prep football, pro football eventually got the axe from my fall routine.
That is except for the Super Bowl. I get together with the same group of guys every year – we eat well, laugh endlessly at the commercials and see the best of the best knock it out on the gridiron.
Not this year.
We did eat well, but the commercials were atrocious. The only thing more insipid then the majority of the commercials was the nauseating halftime show. The last time I checked it was my generation that had all the money, yet Madison Avenue caters to the millennials.
And best of the rest was not the product that was on the field Sunday. The Rams should be ashamed of themselves. I have seen Pop Warner coaches with more game insight and youth players with a greater sense of urgency than the Rams put forth in Atlanta.
Any time the Rams would get any momentum going, instead of popping into and out of the huddle and back up to the line, they would utilize darned near the entire play clock which gave the Patriots a chance to regroup.
And the ultimate blunder by the Rams came in the fourth quarter. Facing second and 22 the Rams went for broke instead of chipping away at the line to gain. Then on third and 22 they rolled over, running an off-tackle play which led to a punt. Horrible, just horrible.
Interceptions happen, but that game-clinching interception by the Patriots should have never happened. That ball should have been hoisted out of the end zone instead of being floated up like a dying duck. Again, just horrible.
When I cover a high school game and the clock is smarter than the coach, that does not make it into print. When a coach calls a bonehead play, I do not question him on it. These coaches do not get paid millions of dollars a year, and when a kid drops a touchdown pass I do not call him out, either. He is a kid.
But that bar is orders of magnitude higher at the professional level. It is one thing to trip while defending a pass or get beat by a swim move while blocking. But to get paid millions and millions of dollars and not understand clock management or basic play calling is absolutely inexcusable.
And the Rams were simple inexcusable on Sunday. The Patriots did not win their sixth Super Bowl – the Rams lost it.
But the food was good.