New England Patriots Super Bowl XLIX Highlights Video

untitledNew England fans will no doubt want to have this video as part of their collection which has an hour long recap of the Patriots’ 2014 regular season and postseason games, with extensive highlights of the Super Bowl XLIX win, 28-24, over the Seattle Seahawks.

Other than being a New England Patriots fan, I would rate the video to be about average.  While it does a decent job of providing a nice recap of the regular season, it could have done more to build the drama throughout the season.  While New England ultimately went 12-4, there was some real drama early in the season.

Despite blowing out a poor Minnesota Vikings team in Week 2, the Patriots looked very mediocre after four games.  They were humiliated in Week 4 by the Kansas City Chiefs and not only looked like a pedestrian team, they looked like a bad team.  The offensive line was a mess, Brady didn’t look like Brady, and the entire team looked like it could be headed to “has been” status.  There was even talk in the media about Brady being benched.  That’s just how bad it was.

While this video plays up the fact New England looked pretty poor in that game and captured the theme “we’re on to [choose team]” mantra the coach and players adopted after the Kansas City game, it missed a lot too.  For example, it really should have included Belichick scoffing at a reporter when asking if the “QB position would be evaluated” implying Brady could be benched.  And it could have shown some of the commentary in the media about the Patriots being “a bad team.”  But it didn’t.  And that would have made what came next even more powerful.  The Patriots righted the ship and went on to win all but two of their remaining games.  One was a close loss to Green Bay at Lambeau field and the final game against Buffalo where most of the starters rested.  And of course, they won the Super Bowl.

The video does a better job with the playoff wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts and of course the Super Bowl.  The Ravens game was particularly close with tricky formations and a trick play to secure the win after being down by 14 points twice.

The New England Patriots seem to always be in heart stopping Super Bowl matchups that leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the final gun sounds.  Super Bowl XLIX in which the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 is no exception.  Seattle was able to pull off a miraculous drive at the end of the game to almost win it, only to be thwarted at the goal line by an interception by the unheralded rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler.  The video is at its best covering this game and its magnitude for the legacy of Brady and the Patriots

Of course everyone will remember the season for the ridiculous Deflategate drama at the end of AFC Championship Game.  The video never mentions it, and as a Patriots fan I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It was definitely a part of the story leading into the Super Bowl and had to be a distraction for players and coaches so I feel the video should have somehow deftly handled it because it was part of the full story of the season.  That it’s completely missing seems odd.

The special features in this addition are nothing special or worth mentioning.  I wish they could have put together a better package for that as they have done in the past.

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Overall, of course Patriots fans like me will love the DVD despite its drawbacks.

 

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Good Biography of Lamar Hunt

huntDespite an uninspiring writing style this is a very solid biography of Lamar Hunt.  Better yet, I learned a good deal about Lamar Hunt I didn’t know.  Most readers will recognize Lamar Hunt as one of the found fathers of the American Football League which competed directly with the well-established National Football League.  After a rather successful half decade the Hunt was then instrumental in the merger of the two leagues, creating the modern, NFL we know today.

Lamar Hunt was born not with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but many golden spoons.  His father was a billionaire and Hunt inherited a vast amount of wealth that allowed him to pursue his own dreams and goals with little concern about the financial consequences.  He fell in love with football in college and as an adult desperately wanted to own an NFL team but was spurned by the old guard.  So Hunt did the next best thing, he found a group of like-minded men and created his own football league.

While getting a professional football league up and running and successful against the established, old school NFL was a daunting challenge, Hunt managed to do just that.  And despite eventually having to move his inaugural Dallas franchise to Kansas City, his team and his league thrived.  So much so, that eventually the NFL was compelled to merge with the AFL to avoid escalating player salaries and competition for television viewers.

The most interesting thing about Hunt through all this was his decency and humanity.  Unlike many who didn’t earn but were handed vast amounts of wealth who slid into slovenly habits and narcissism, Hunt was considered by his peers to be very nice, decent man and one who worked hard at his passion – sports.  Even during the intensive rivalry with the NFL’s expansion franchise the Dallas Cowboys, he managed to stay friendly with Dallas’s other billionaire football owner Clint Murchison.

The other amazing thing about Lamar Hunt was the other sports he was passionate about and some he helped get off the ground.  For example he was an original minority owner of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.  He helped create the modern open era tennis by co-founding the World Championship Tennis circuit and is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Finally, Hunt is instrumental in first bringing professional soccer to the United States as an owner of a Dallas professional soccer franchise, despite it rankling owners in the NFL.  While the league eventually collapsed, it was the precursor to today’s Major League Soccer.

The story of Hunt and the AFL-NFL merger is well told in other places but this biography also does that seminal event justice, while expanding ones knowledge of just how instrumental Hunt was in the sports world in general.

While the writing lacks a lot to be desired, the content is worth the effort.

Lamar Hunt: The Gentle Giant Who Revolutionized Professional Sports

Two Super Bowl XLVII Storylines We Could Get Sick of Hearing

If Baltimore and San Francisco win we’ll have to hear about a Hairball brothers, err, I mean Haurbaugh brothers Super Bowl.  I already heard one story on it and I am sick of it already.

If Atlanta and Baltimore win we’ll be hearing about Matt Ryan versus Joe Flacco.  Both quarterbacks were drafted in the first round in 2008, and of course Ryan was the number one overall pick.  Both were and are expected to get the franchise quarterback for years to come and of course win.

New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV Champions: Another Average NFL Films Production

The New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV highlight package is rather average, but a bit better than the last few years.  Of course, for any New Orleans fan it is a great keepsake, no doubt.

The feature of all the team specific Super Bowl highlight packages is about an hour long highlights reel of the New Orleans Saints regular season.  This year’s edition does a decent job of showing the key highlights of every regular season game.  It moves at a much faster clip than most years, or at least seems to, and doesn’t even tease at making an attempt at building up any drama, which is the greatest failure of most of these highlight packages.  But unlike many previous years, where the film unsuccessfully feigns drama building, at least in this one you get what you get, a nice, fast paced journey through the New Orleans Saints’ 2009 season.  There is nothing particularly special about it, unless you are a Saints fan, and is entertaining enough if you are not.

This edition, however, does a horrific job of building up any of the drama of the Saints’ postseason.  It certainly shows all the Saints highlights from the Saints point of view.  But the drama building, especially of the Saints very close playoff win against the Minnesota Vikings, and their very close (despite the final score of 31-17) Super Bowl win over the Indianapolis Colts is simply a joke.  You’d think the overtime victory against the Vikings and the win against the Colts were undramatic, almost foregone conclusions watching this compilation.  It just does a completely lousy job of it.

Worse yet, there are very few close breakdowns of dramatic plays and events during the season, and of the NFC Championship and Super Bowl wins.  It’s just a simply a highlights reel from the Saints’ perspective, and that is about it.

The Bonus Features are also a huge let down. You get the postgame celebrations, NFL media day, the halftime show, and a short personal close-up of the travails of Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, which is really the best of the Bonus Features.  The Bonus Features are simply thin and not very good.

The Saints made history with their first and rather dramatic win in Super Bowl XLIV.  While any Saints and NFL fan will enjoy the journey, the video robs the viewer of just what an amazing and dramatic run it really was.

NFL Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints Champions

Tom Coughlin’s Memoir of the New York Giants 2006 Super Bowl Season

Tom Coughlin’s memoir of the New York Giants 2006 season and win over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII could have been a lot more than it is.  Like the public persona of the coach, it lacks a bit of personality and inside information that football fans are looking for.  I did find it worthwhile reading, anyway.

This book functions as a mini autobiography of Coughlin’s coaching career and the high pressure and long hours it requires to be a successful coach in the National Football League.  One of the better features of the book is learning about his coaching pedigree and his discussion of how he had to loosen up a little bit with the New York Giants, who as most recall, were seemingly in near mutiny of Coughlin’s old school rules and discipline.

And while Coughlin does a good job with the above, his recounting of the season and the Giants team is often devoid of personality and inside information about how the team overcame some of the squabbling and questions about leadership to go on their improbable run to a Super Bowl victory.  He certainly plays lip service to the quiet leadership skills of the oft criticized Eli Manning and his rocky but repaired relationship with older players like Michael Strahan, but it more reportorial than emotional engaging.

There also is little about football strategy and X’s and O’s in this book, which is fine as I didn’t expect much.  But for an avid football fan like myself that always adds a great deal to a book about football.

Despite these drawbacks, I am sure New York Giants fans will enjoy this look back at the season from Coughlin’s perspective.  I would not, however, recommend this to the casual football fan.

A Team to Believe In: Our Journey to the Super Bowl Championship

Observations on Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints over Indianapolis Colts 31-17

I know this is coming woefully late but I figure better late than never.

The 2000’s offered up some of the greatest Super Bowl contests in its 40 year history. After having so many blowouts and games that simply did not live up to the hype, the 2000’s saw mostly close contests between evenly matched teams. Super Bowl XLIV looked to be another great contest between two of the most prolific offenses in the league, and it more than lived up to its hype. Despite the final score, the result of a last minute, coffin in the nail touchdown by the Saints, this was a nail biter to the finish.

New Orleans certainly had karmic energy on its side. No matter what team the AFC sent to the Super Bowl, New Orleans was going to be the rooting interest of even the most casual fan, not only because people wanted to see something good happen to the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but its history as a losing but lovable, inept franchise gave it an underdog feel, despite clearly being one of the three best teams in the league this year.

This game was almost evenly played from the start, and but for a few crucial calls by the gutsy Saints coach Sean Peyton and a crucial mistake by Peyton Manning, the Colts mostly outplayed the Saints. The first half featured a quick 10-0 lead by the Colts but the Saints held on for two field goals to make it 10-6 in a surprisingly low scoring first half. Given the way both offenses could move the ball up and down the field, the Colts receiving the ball at the beginning of the second half seemingly gave them a great advantage.

But in what will go down in one of the gutsiest coaching decisions in Super Bowl history, Sean Peyton went for an onside kick at the beginning of the second half to steal a short field and possession from the Colts. Get the ball and score and you put your team in good position to win the game. Don’t get the ball and give Peyton Manning a short field, you may end up the butt of jokes and pariah for the rest of your coaching career. After one of the nastiest scrums I’ve ever witnessed for the ball, the Saints come up with the possession and proceed to score a go ahead touchdown, 13-10 Saints.

The onside kick was the play of the game. It is what really won the game for the Saints and wrested control back away from the Colts as both teams could clear move the ball on each other. After that it was a tit for tat, and again Peyton called for a successful two point conversion after a touchdown leading to a seven point advantage with just over three minutes to go.

I suspect most fans, like me, figured that Peyton Manning and the Colts were on their way to game tying touchdown leaving the Saints a few moments on the clock to get into field goal range for a win. The Colts were easily driving down the field getting close to scoring position. I commented to a guest watching the game with me “wouldn’t a pick six be great right here?” A few moments later, Manning throws just that, an interception returned for a touchdown by Tracy Porter, the Saints’ second year cornerback. And that was it.

Did Peyton Manning choke? Manning and his teams, including in college, for whatever reason, seem to always come up short in the big games. It’s amazing that one of the greatest regular season quarterbacks of all time with one of the most consistently potent offenses year in and year out can’t seem to get over the hump in the playoffs. But I don’t think Manning chocked as much as Porter simply made a great play. Unlike most Patriots fans, I kind felt sorry for Manning.

But the Colts were facing a team that played loose and Sean Peyton coached the game to win, not to lose, which greatly benefited the Saints. So many times, including the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, the coach plays not to lose, and then loses. Hats off the Sean Peyton for an amazing and, I’ll say it a third time, gutsy coaching strategy.

This game will go down as one of the all time greats and firmly place the Colts as a great team that just can’t seal the deal when it counts most.

Drew Brees was named the MVP of the game. He deserved it.

PLAYERS OF THE GAME

Offensive Player: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
Defensive Player: Trace Porter, CB, New Orleans
Offensive Lineman: Jonathan Goodwin, C, New Orleans
Special Teams: Garrett Hartley, K, New Orleans

Super Bowl XLIV Prediction

If you consider the entire history of the Super Bowl, most of the games have been duds and have not lived up to their hype.  This past decade, however, we have seen some of the most exciting, closely contested games in the marquee matchup in American sports. 

Super Bowl XLIII promises to be one of the best.  Whether it lives up to that hype remains to be seen.  But with the New Orleans Saints versus the Indianapolis Colts you have one of the most exciting matchups ever. 

First, you have the two best teams in the regular season from the AFC and NFC in the game.  That does not happen very often.  Second, you have two of the best quarterbacks in the league with a number of excellent receivers to throw to.  Drew Brees has been fabulous this season, and Peyton Manning as played as well this season as any quarterback I have ever seen in my lifetime. 

Third, with those outstanding quarterbacks you have two of the most prolific offenses in the league.  And fourth,  need I say, you have two defenses that are better than they have been in the past, but are mid-tier NFL defenses that are vulnerable?  It could be one of the highest scoring games in Super Bowl history if these two offenses start sprinting up and down the field on each other.

So picking a winner is very hard.  Will the Saints get to Peyton Manning and batter him like they did Brett Favre in their NFC Championship win over the Minnesota Vikings?  The Colts offense line has played well this year, but they have been known for lapses in the playoffs against aggressive teams like the Greg Williams run Saints. 

Will Dwight Freeney, the pass rushing machine of the Colts be healthy enough to get pressure on Drew Brees, and if he is ineffective, will the rest of the defensive line be effective without his presence?  The Colts have a vulnerable secondary that has been protected by the great offense of the Colts, able to play with leads and play the pass.

It really is a tough game to call.  They are both great teams, the best in the league.

But at the end of the day who am I picking?  Peyton Manning has been a magician this year.  He has avoided the annual choke job the Colts often put up in the playoffs.  I’m going with the best quarterback in the league against the second best quarterback in the league, with vulnerable defenses behind them.

The Colts will win the Super Bowl 42-34.