Friday, January 30, 2015

Super Bowl in Arizona

First, random thoughts on Phoenix, Ariz.


I've been there twice. Both times in the Summer. I think the first time was in '96 or '97 and once I think in 2011. First point is this. IT'S HOT!!!!!  It's really, really hot!!!


The first time I was there it reached 115 or so degrees during the daytime. It is true it is a dry heat. Especially in the shade it feels much cooler than slightly lesser temperatures I've experienced in New Orleans and Houston. Of course, you are crazy to go into the sun in Phoenix without being dressed and even your face protected for more than a few minutes.


Here's how hot it is. When you jump in the pool and then come out, you are dry, including your suit, within minutes -- even standing in the shade. No kidding.


Sedona is a beautiful red rock area about less than 2 hours away.  I once drove from Sedona, where it was 45 degrees on leaving and arrived in Phoenix at 109 degrees.  Hot! Hot! Hot!


The first time I was in Phoenix I decided to do a little hiking. The first day I went hiking among the giant cacti in Apache something or other park. I went there early in the morning so that I would not crumple up and float away like thin bark that suddenly float up out of a fire.  Other than the sudden curiosity I had as to how big you had to be before a hungry puma doesn't think of you as food, it was really beautiful. So, the next day I decided to climb Camelback Mountain. I forget why they call it that:

Camelback Mountain

In any event, I headed off even earlier in the morning, afraid that by the time I got to the top it would be sizzling. I started my climb of a little more than 2700 feet about 6 a.m. I figured two hours up, and somewhat less down (gravity, you know). I can't say as I remember how long it took me to get up there, but it was longer than I thought.  By the time I was half way up it was too hot to hold onto the railing they had to help you get up. Something else happened half way up. I started walking really, really slow.


I wasn't going to make it. I didn't feel that was any shame. Lots of mountains I can't climb. Then something terrible happened. I was sitting on a rock resting, deciding if I should turn around there or in a hundred feet. Even resting was a dilemma because you were still getting hotter. I had brought a lot of water with me, was wearing sun screen and a hat. Didn't matter much. Then I started talking to this woman, who seemed roughly my age, and who was also ready to pass out. Her son was ahead of her on the trail to the top. She had no choice, she felt, as he was going all the way up and would wait for her. I didn't see the logic as eventually he'd get bored and come down, but she was determined in the way only a frightened parent can be. But, if she could make it up there, why couldn't I (aside from being overweight, out of shape and a little crippled)?  So, we walked together. One step at a time. And I mean one at a time. With frequent stops. Actually, almost every step. And some time later, we made it.


I came down alone. It was much faster, but, it had to be. Even still drinking regularly, I was heating up and feeling not so good. I did make it down. But, at the bottom, even with marked signs, I went the wrong way. I think it was about 5 minutes to my car from where I reached level ground, but I walked 20 minutes pretty much in the opposite direction before I realized I was all alone and nowhere near a car lot. Feeling kind of tired and light headed too. Like maybe I should lie down. Oh, and I was out of water.


I'm writing this now, some 17 years or so later, so you might guess I didn't lie down or pass out. I slowly made my way back and it was tough. I had more water in my car. And, I put on the A/C and sat there for at least a half hour before I made the drive back to the house. I don't really think I learned much of a lesson or anything. I thought I was being careful about hiking in the heat. But, I overshot my limits, that's for sure. I'm still learning that lesson over and over again.  And, honestly, overall, it was a fun experience.  I just don't recommend it to anyone who isn't young, in good shape and can carry a lot of water.


The Super Bowl is actually not in Phoenix but in Glendale, which is right next to Phoenix.  I read an article about how we should say Glendale rather than Phoenix. Ridiculous. Next to Phoenix there are a few residential communities, maybe about ten of them, but it's seamless. You can't really tell the difference between Phoenix, outside of downtown, and these communities except for the name on the sign. Well, I guess Glendale does have this stadium off the highway, so, maybe it is a little different, but I always thought it was in Phoenix when I passed it.  And surrounding all of it is a whole lot of desert. As Phoenix proper dominates it all, I'm fine with calling it Phoenix, the same way you think of Yonkers as part of New York City (it's not; it's actually its own city and one of the biggest in state) unless you live there. I have no idea when I'm entering or leaving Yonkers either.


My evalovin' gf's sister lives in Glendale (or one of those communities), which is why I've been there on trips to Arizona.  AZ is an amazingly beautiful state with all kinds of unbelievable attractions, foremost being the Grand Canyon. There's also the Canyon de Chelly and Sedona, the prettiest place I never heard of until I was there.  

I have no interest in going to a Super Bowl, but, had we gone (just today my gf tells me her sister had free tickets for us), it would have given us a place to stay, saving a lot of money. 


I suppose if I got free tickets to the Super Bowl (and knew it) I would go. How do you not? But, I'm not sure I would like it.  I haven't been to a professional football game in probably 25 years or so, and, frankly, it was ridiculous. Even though we arrived at the Meadowlands Stadium where the Jets were playing before the game started, we did not get to our seats until the second half kickoff. And there was the giant who tried to smash my face because I told his girlfriend she was cute (I was young and she was cute). I remember my friends looking at me after I avoided the huge meaty hands reaching down for me from the level above. "What's going on?" "Oh, I'll tell you later." Anyway, even then, aside from missing half the game, it was cold and you couldn't really see that well. Much rather sit at home with friends munching on Ritz crackers with buffalo chicken dip, pepperoni and cheese. Whatever it costs, it has to be cheaper than a hot dog and coke at the game. And I don't have to wait on line.


Of course, the SB is a different experience, probably once in a lifetime for most people.  Still, I don't like crowds, using stadium bathrooms and walking up a lot of steps, just for starters. And, I'd miss the commercials (even though they weren't so good last year). Half time show? Eh. The performers are usually pretty good. I even enjoyed Beyonce (last year?) Still.


So, let's get to the Super Bowl this year. Early in the year I predicted NE  v. San Francisco. Half right. Hard to be more wrong about SF, of course.  They were pretty mediocre this year.  Last year I think I also predicted the same two teams and they both made it to the conference championship. At this rate, within two years I should be right.


I'm a NE fan and Tom Brady fan most of all, so why wouldn't I be happy? I'm a little bit disappointed by the DeflateGate scandal because it does seem like someone cheated (so far not buying the natural reasons line) but I really don't believe it was Belicheck or Brady. I know it could be anyone. Our heroes are not immune from all the foibles of humanities. But I need evidence, anyway, and SpyGate (2007) is not enough to convict Belichick. 


I went back and looked at my predictions last year just before the game. My best prediction was that it would be a close game.  I predicted that whomever had the better game, Marchawn Lynch of Knowshon Moreno, would give their team victory - neither was a major factor (Lynch had 39 years rushing; Moreno 17).


My predictions this year are this:  7 point or less score differential. No blow out this year. One team blew NE out this year by 27 points, but NE was a different team after that game and they ended up with the best game differential in the league in their favor. They lost one game after that by 8 and another by 5. The rest they won. In 14 years they turned over the ball the least of any team and were second in the league this year (no DeflateGate jokes).  But Seattle had no blowouts against them this year - the most they lost by was 9 - and they were next after NE in score differential. Seattle also is good with ball control, 4th best in the league in turnover ration (and we all know Houston was only 3rd because of one man).


My other prediction - if NE's defense comes up big, or their special teams, they win. Otherwise, honestly, I don't think they can.


I'm ending with regular season MVP. The absolutely right man this year is J. J. Watt. Leave aside his 20+ sacks in which he came in second, but he was first in yards lost on sacks, third in forced fumbles but first in fumbles recovered and second in defensive touchdowns. It wasn't a fluke. There is a reason he is the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.  In tackles he was ranked 84th in the league, but that's meaningless because he's a defensive end and they penetrate and don't rack up tackles. How did he do among DEs? He was no. 1 and for solo tackles as well. And by the way, he was also no. 1 among all defensive players for tackles for loss.  Tied for first for fumble recoveries for tds, 2d in safeties (although many are tied for both of those). How about something like passes defensed.  The whole ranking through the first 100 are cornerbacks, safeties and occasional linebacker or other back - except for one defensive end (and one nose tackle slightly below him) - want to guess who?  He had 10 passes defensed. Since 1991 only one other player has had 10 passes defensed and ten sacks - and remember - Watt had more than double that number of sacks - no one has done that before.  By the way, he had more passes defensed than great defenders like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Earl Thomas and Charles Woodson.  


There's also a statistic called defeats, which I left for last. It includes all tackles for a loss, including sacks, any tackle or pass defensed to prevent a conversion on third or fourth down and any turnover or a batted pass that leads to an interception. Another words, game changers. Watt is the record holder with 56 in his second year (2012).  He won this year too with only one other player close.


And of course he had 3 offensive touchdowns.  If he played tight end, he'd be another Gronkowski.


No. 2 is Odell Beckham, Jr. who transformed the Giants and Eli Manning into a decent team and quarterback again all by himself, leave aside the catch many if not most football fans call the greatest catch they ever saw.  He started 12 games this year and only one other receiver, Antonio Gates, has his kind of numbers in them. And, he's a rookie.


No. 3. Almost any other year, Aaron Rodgers would be the easy choice. The NFL prefers offensive backs (with very few exceptions) so he will likely win. He had a 7.6 to 1 TD to interception ratio. Just to show you how good that is - Romo was next with a 3.8 to one ratio and then Brady with 3.7. What Rodgers did is astonishing. And, if his defense and special teams did not lose the game in a few minutes, he'd be in the Super Bowl.

Going to end with a couple of 2009 interviews with Marshawn Lynch I found on, including a swim race with another Buffalo Bill in the second one. Hard to believe this is the same guy.


So, New England won.  As I wrote recently in some newspaper comment, Brady is probably the only sports hero I have. I am amazed by his mental toughness and refusal to give up, his ability to focus so hard on scoring under pressure. Ten points down in the fourth quarter against one of the best defenses in history, a lot of guys give up., tying a SB record for come backs.  It's why I rate Brady ahead of Manning and always say, one game, one possession, one play, I want Brady (or Rodgers, who is probably the best QB right now).  But, 4 Super Bowls wins, three Super Bowl MVPs, two close SBs he lost through no fault of his own and three other NFC championship appearances. Of course, he has records galore - his fans have a reason to say he's no. 1. I really don't believe much in comparing players between eras, particularly with the significant rule changes that favor more modern quarterbacks, and he's had at least a few years of that. But, his achievements speak for themselves. I would even say what I didn't want to say last year, because it sounded like sour grapes. Brady's 50 TDs in the 2007 season back was as good as Manning's 55 now under modern rules. You can disagree, but, right now, Brady fans have a right to say he's the best ever - particularly in post season, but arguably ever, whatever Manning's own claim to it.

I have to be honest though. When I heard his interview with Bob Costas, I wasn't happy. He said people who knew him knew what he was about. But, when Costas asked him a last question - so, you were definitely not involved - he didn't answer the question. I can't say that makes me happy. It reminded me of the Michael Jackson interview when he was asked if he had ever touched a child (or something like that) and he answered - I'd never harm a child. Uh oh. On the other hand, I expect some attorney or other has said to him to answer that way.  I'm not going to rush to judgment with him anymore than I would win anyone else (do my best anyway). But, I would have preferred "Absolutely not."

Mostly though, more than elated, I feel relieved. I felt before the game that Seattle was the better team, almost a team of destiny, and I still feel that way, and not least when Kearse made that catch lying on the ground on his back. As Pete Carroll said, that last pass play was called to make sure they had time to call three plays so that they could run the last two if the first pass didn't work (it would stop the clock). It did work except Butler made a great play and you have to give it to the kid, who said he studied that play and was ready. When you watch it from the end zone, you believe it. He went for it from the beginning of the play.

My predictions before the game turned out better this year than last (though I really think predictions about one game are just for fun - who knows what will happen). I thought it be less than 7 points and I wrote that if NE defense or special teams comes up big, they win. And, obviously, it did.

As for the Sea Hawks, I had even more respect for them this year than last year as they had to play through at least a little adversity. The blow out in the Super Bowl last year was impressive enough, but after the Green Bay game, and this one, I was really impressed.

I can sleep well tonight. Thanks Tom. Thanks Bill.  Sorry Sea Hawk fans. I know how crummy I'd feel if it went the other way.


  1. My favorite restaurant in the world is in Phoenix (actually it might technically be Scottsdale). It's now called Different Pointe of View. It used to be called Etienne's Different Pointe of View. Its on the property of the Hilton. Both in terms of seeting, view and food my favorite of all time. Now I never had prime rib there so I can't compare that to the Wobbly Barn.

  2. I had no memorable food there. Now you tell me.

  3. You know less about football than you do about Jefferson,and that's saying something considering how preposterous your interpretation of TJ is. However, your writing, particularly when describing first person events, is marvelous. Always rings true. You have a gift, my friend, even though you occasionally use it for evil.

    1. There it is. There it is - another slap at my Jefferson post. Can't say I don't expect it. But, don't just say I'm wrong - what did I say that was wrong about the NFL (and I'm still in mourning right now about the season being over)? Bill Belichick agrees with me on the pass at least - hard to call him ignorant about football. As for my MVP choice, any number of those it would be hard to call ignorant about football would agree.

  4. P.S. A comment by Joe Namath on the Butler interception:

    "You know, I am a guy that believed Pete [Carroll] made the right call that didn’t work. Earlier in the game, there were situations where [Marshawn] Lynch was stopped for no gain. When you see eight New England Patriots at the line of scrimmage to stop the run, that’s not just eight players up there, that’s eight Patriots that are pretty darn stout, or they wouldn’t be there in that position in the first place. Given the belief that Pete knows, with his coaches, exactly what they want to do in a given situation, what is the best opportunity, I really believe he called the play that they figured would be best with single coverage, and not butting heads, and in that given situation, with the time and the one timeout. It just didn’t work. That young man [Malcolm] Butler made a great play. I don’t believe Russell Wilson saw Butler. Having played the position before, had he seen Butler in that break position, he would have maybe put it on the receiver’s back shoulder. But it was such a flash, you know. From where Butler was, and came from, I really believe Russell didn’t see Butler, and he threw a strike right out there in front of the receiver. If you get real picky, you would have thought that the receiver would have been coming harder inside, a step faster. When I watch his body movement, watch his break inside, I don’t think it was as explosive as it could have been. I give all the credit in the world to Butler for making an absolutely great play and, wow, what a hero, coming from where he came from onto that team. What a finish for the season for him, boy."

    As I said in my original post, it's not the play that I would have called, but, if football guys like Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick and Joe Namath think it made sense, it sure makes it an argument. Also, to Namath's credit, in the same interview he said that he's seen them all and that Brady was the best. Can't fault a man for agreeing with my opinion.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .