Tag Archives: New England Patriots

New York vs. Boston again – but I’m OK with that

On these posts I’ve complained, whined and kvetched about how America’s major television networks and the media overall are obsessed with the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Super Bowl XLVI is upon us, and we have another Boston-New York matchup with the Patriots and Giants. The network executives must be mighty pleased that those two big northeastern markets are reprented, but NFL execs are always  pleased with whatever teams are playing.

The Super Bowl is the biggest thing in sports – in this country, anyway – and it will draw monster ratings even if Tennessee is playing Tampa Bay. The big game rules regardless of the market size of the competing teams.

In the NFL, talent is dispersed, dynasties are rare and most teams have at least a strong  hope every few years at getting a shot at glory. Except maybe the Cleveland Browns.

There’s a lesson for Major League Baseball in the NFL’s universal success. Football has unified national appeal. Baseball, while enjoying broad appeal nationwide, is at heart a region-by-region, market-by-market affair.  And the game pays a price for that.

My TV is too lame, so I can’t host a Super Bowl party

At a measly 36 inches on the diagonal, the low-def television set in our family room  is simply too pathetic for me even to begin thinking about inviting people over to watch the Super Bowl.

Our Toshiba is a hand-me-down from my brother. He gave it to us when he moved overseas back in 2001, when Tom Brady was in his second season with the Patriots and Eli Manning was making his mark at Ole Miss.

The TV darn near broke my back when I hauled it out of my brother’s New York City apartment and ‘rassled it  down the stairs to our family room in New Jersey. Muscle spasms aside, seeing that 36″ screen was a thrill  for somebody whose earliest television memory is of watching a modest black- and-white Admiral catch fire right as Mary Martin came onscreen in “Peter Pan” back in 1960.

The Admiral was replaced by a Zenith (“The quality goes in before the name goes on”), which was to be the set on which I would watch the first football game I can remember. That was the 1964 NFL championship game, in which my Dad and I watched the Cleveland Browns defeat the Baltimore Colts. Even that childhood TV experience was cut short. Electronic “snow” filled the screen late in the fourth quarter as the sun set and we lost the signal from the Toledo station carrying the game.

Although I’m sure it happened a few times, I’m hard pressed to remember watching a Super Bowl in my own home. It seems we’ve always been guests at the home of somebody with a bigger, more manly set. At a co-worker’s place in Omaha as Da Bears won Super Bowl XX. At the home of friends in the Bay Area as the Packers took Super Bowl XXXI. And so on.

This year, we’ll again beg the gracious hospitality of friends across town who have an HD set so big that it’s measured in meters. Wes Welker will appear actual size. And I’ll sit there in a comfy chair, goggle-eyed at the spectacle of punts and pixels, knowing that my TV is today and will be forever too lame to afford me the pleasure of walking over to my own refrigerator for a beer during the big game.

Thanks to television, the NFL is truly the national sport

Baseball may traditionally be America’s national pastime, but as a spectator sport football is king. That’s a tribute to television broadcasting.

In a continent spanning four time zones (and I’m excluding Alaska and Hawaii), football has an enormous advantage in capturing the attention of the public. Even in an era of Monday night and occasional Thursday night games, most of the matchups are played on Sundays when most Americans are off work. That concentration of games increases the focus on them, and fans immerse themselves in the games.

For example, this weekend has been the pinnacle of the NFL season with eight teams vying to reach the two conference championships. Many of my friends and colleagues blocked out their weekend to watch the games (I dipped in and out and listened a fair amount on radio). Now that the Jets-Patriots game is over, I’m sure many of them are reliving the details on ESPN, the NFL Network and NFL.com.

The conference championships will also be closely and widely watched, followed by the Super Bowl, which will amass a huge audience of fans rabid and casual.

Baseball can’t match that, even if the network executives would get their dream matchup of the Yankees against the Dodgers or Cubs. A Mariners-Pirates World Series would be a network nightmare, but there’d be no dropoff in audience if the Seahawks faced the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

The NFL is huge, while baseball, lived day by day, inning after inning, is merely big. From spring training through a 162-game regular season plus several rounds of playoffs, baseball is seemingly always with us.

So football games seem bigger, more important by comparison.

I’m a baseball fan first and foremost, but I concede I’m in the minority in this 21st century.

Football is America’s sport.

Jumping on the Cleveland Browns’ bandwagon

Getting to watch the Raiders’ game on TV from Oakland is hard enough to fathom. But the Browns’ winning back-to-back games against stud teams is incredible.

The Browns drilled the New England Patriots today in Cleveland, a day after the first snowfall of the year there. The victory comes two weeks after the Browns knocked off the New Orleans Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Browns had the advantage of home turf and a bye week to prepare, although in recent years neither seemed to be much of an edge for the woeful expansion franchise.

A 3-5 record is hardly a return to glory. But as a Cleveland native who has paid scant heed to the resurrected franchise, I must admit the team has finally gotten my attention. That’s been a long time coming.

Ravens peck the Patriots in the NFL playoffs

The Baltimore Ravens thrashed the New England Patriots today in the NFL playoffs 33-14 in a lopsided game in frigid Foxboro, Mass. I’m having a hard time getting interested in the playoffs, and runaway games don’t do much to lure me in.

It’s obvious that the Patriots’ dominating run is over as they’ve succumbed to age, injuries and bad breaks. Not that I care. Years have passed and I’m still ticked off about the blown call that helped the Pats defeat the Raiders one snowy night in 2002.

As for the Ravens, it’s nice to see one of the non-elite franchises advance. I have mixed feelings about this one, however.

The Ravens were wrestled away from Cleveland by the petulant Art Modell. Although he no longer owns the team and the last ex-Browns player on the roster is long gone, I have not been able to get behind the Ravens.

Counterbalancing that franchise move is the travesty of how the Colts were ripped from Baltimore in the middle of the night for a move to Indianapolis.

Wrong is wrong is wrong.

So I hereby bury the hatchet with the Ravens and wish them and Coach John Harbaugh (above) well next week. May they kick the Colts in the keister.