Questions, Answers, and False Idols: NFL Wild Card Weekend

Image of Tim Tebow

"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Tim Tebow, worshipped as a false idol in Denver and across the country, prays for the salvation of his followers...and a victory over Pittsburgh on the Sabbath.

Predicting winners in the NFL Playoffs is much like picking the winner of a Presidential Election. With the start of the Republican primary campaigns polluting television screens across America, we are inundated with numbers from the latest popularity polls and so-called expert opinion, only to witness these prognostications rendered meaningless when final results roll in and evaporate the fanfare. As in life, so as in football.

However, unlike politics, the opinions of your everyday American slob actually bear weight in the landscape of our country’s rich culture and tradition. We can also take solace in knowing that one cannot lobby or simply buy their way to victory as we experience each election cycle, but that wins can only be gained—and manifest—on the actual field (except in college football). With that, I present my keen insight and clairvoyance in picking the winners for Wild Card Weekend.

As always, this is not the place where we examine statistical breakdowns or X’s and O’s. No, my friends, this is a genuine, red-blooded American blog where we need no facts to form opinion and no numbers to prove we’re right. We create our own logic and rationale based on gut feeling and inexplicable bias.

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That Which Giveth Shall Also Taketh Away: NFL Weekend Recap

Seattle Seahaws RB Marshawn Lynch flicks off human fly and Saints CB Tracy Porter on his way to game-clinching 67 yard touchdown run. (Michael DeMocker, Times Picayune)

On Saturday, Wild Card Weekend 2011 delivered one of the most exciting days of NFL action in recent memory. A team with a losing record knocked off defending Super Bowl champions in a high-scoring shootout and the Super Bowl runner-up gave a game away at home in the final minute.

Sunday did not live up to the high standards set by it’s rival day of the week, but still served as a worthy venue for millions of Americans to bear witness to both home teams’ lackluster performances and send their supporters home with the bitter taste of defeat, having dropped several hundreds of dollars in vain to see it in person.

The outcomes of these four contests did nothing but underscore the parity and unpredictability of the NFL. It was also a powerful reminder of the omnipotent destructive power of NFL Playoff football for Saints fans, who until Saturday, were still riding the rolling whitewater of Super Bowl XLIV’s proverbial wave. The lesson learned? You will always return to shore. And sometimes, it is extremely rocky.

All of this culminated in an adrenaline fueled frenzy for the victors and the marked the beginning of an offseason surely to be littered with second guessing and hundreds of pounds of hate mail addressed to the New Orleans Saints defense by agitated fans, followers, and members of the offensive unit.

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NFL Playoffs to Kick Off New Holiday Season on Wild Card Weekend

Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, which can only mean one thing: those holidays intended for amateurs have given way to a festive season of incomparable magnitude — the NFL Playoffs. Each year, football’s second season eclipses the overrated winter holidays in raucous celebration of watching freakishly large speedy men in tight pants battle for the right to play on our nation’s most hallowed holiday, Super Bowl Sunday.

Image of Jim Mora

The Playoffs? Yes, Jim -- we want to talk about the Playoffs.

To the neophyte, it may seem odd that millions of crazed pigskin fanatics shun the traditions of days past, such as caroling, egg nog, and donning gay apparel in favor of masking beer bellies under oversized jerseys of their favorite player(s) (who are often years, if not decades, their junior), washing down fatty hydrogenated snacks with several gallons of watered-down light beer, and yelling obscenities at a flat inanimate object in their living rooms at the top of their lungs. In addition to sharing indifference and even disdain toward yuletide cheer, this growing legion of initiates has something else in common — an unbridled desire to cheer, eat, drink, and dream their team on to the Promised Land on the first Sunday of February.

For many, the NFL post-season has replaced the idea of embracing the American Dream which, having decades worth of soggy dust blown away in a swirling din over the past ten years, has been revealed as nothing but an eroded myth with no happy ending. For some, it is the sole beacon of enlightenment in an otherwise bleak, empty sea of foreclosure, divorce, and a vanload of a half-dozen crying children who are crushed by the banishment of McDonalds Happy Meals. But make no mistake — there is no better escape from the drudgery of the bitter cold winter than vicariously living through our agile muscular heroes of the gridiron. NFL Playoff football is indeed the drug of choice for nearly all American sports junkies.

But why is this so? Allow me to explain…

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The Return of Football—America’s Game

Football players in front of American Flag

Football season is well underway and it happens to coincide with the launch of this blog.  While I am hesitant to dedicate the first sports post to football—the so-called “America’s Game”—it provides a perfect opportunity to start this section off on the right foot.  Or the left foot, whichever you prefer.  The reason being that the phrase “America’s Game,” something I used to cringe at, is now a perfect metaphor in which both football and the United States of America share an alarming—and hilarious—number of parallels (at least until the neo-Confederate dream of NASCAR overtaking the dominance of football comes to pass).

Let me begin with a confession: I like to watch football*.  OK, I love to watch football.  Whether it is college or the NFL, you can usually find my anything-with-a-ball-obsessed ass planted firmly in front of the soft glow of a football broadcast emanating from a needlessly expensive, flat-screen television each and every Saturday and Sunday.  And when the opportunity presents itself, I am no stranger to witnessing a football game from the oft-frigid seats of an actual stadium.

* apologies to my international friends who may mistake this term for what we Americans dismissingly call “soccer”

Like any football fan, I can mindlessly go down the list and check off everything I like about not only the game itself, but about the general atmosphere and experience of “America’s Game.”  Many positives of the football experience transcend the excitement of watching oversized physical freaks violently moving (or preventing) an oval-shaped inflatable piece of pigskin across painted white lines.  More importantly, the game serves as a venue for (mostly) males to come together in celebration of the very principles we as modern Americans hold near and dear.
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