For a Super Bowl, the matchup between these two NFL teams couldn’t be more perfect. Both Pittsburgh and Green Bay’s defense thrive on perfectly timed blitzes and stalwart pass defense. Both defenses are lead by the NFL’s top defenders, as Pittsburgh’s luscious hair representative Troy Polamalu narrowly beat Green Bay’s hair representative Clay Matthews for the 2010 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
On the offensive side of the ball, the comparison gets even better. Both offenses are led by high-octane quarterbacks who can move the ball down the field with ease against any opponent. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is the highest-rated passer in NFL history at 98.4. He is sharp and aggressive in his passing downfield. He rarely makes mistakes.
And then, there’s big Ben Roethlisberger. Here’s a guy who has won the Super Bowl before. He uses his size to elude tacklers, often frustrating defenses that are close to sacking him but not close enough.
In the week of media chaos that leads up to the Super Bowl, I, in most cases, have a pretty good idea who is going to win the game. Oftentimes it’s a lot of build-up to a game that turns out to be a snoozer blowout where only the commercials are entertaining. This Super Bowl, though, I have no idea what’s going to happen. If Green Bay wins, I won’t be surprised. If big Ben wins another Super Bowl, again, I won’t be surprised.
Hell, even Vegas doesn’t know who is going to win. Most bookmakers opened their lines with Green Bay as a 2.5-point favorite and most lines haven’t budged since they opened. The last thing anyone is expecting is a blowout. It’s a perfect scenario. The matchup between the AFC and NFC Champions is right on the money.
In looking back at the 2010 NFL season, I would say a lot of the same things. There were no real dominant teams. Even the really poor teams could beat the division leaders at any time. Well, maybe all, except for the Broncos. TV ratings were through the roof all season long. American football is as popular as it gets.
My point here is that the 2010 NFL season was as entertaining as it ever has been, and it will be capped off by what could be one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history. But once the game clock ticks to zero on Sunday evening, a harsh reality is going to set in. This could be as good as the will ever get, and if there is a work stoppage next season, all of this could be lost.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3, and so far negotiations between the players union and team owners haven’t generated much progress. According to the New York Times the NFL will lose $120 million in revenue if no deal is reached by March 3 and will grow to $1 billion if there is no deal by the start of the regular season next September. From there, it goes up to $400 million per week if games are missed.
As penniless newspaper reporter, I could care less if the NFL loses millions of dollars. I do care about the revenue professional football brings to local economies across the nation from the small bar owner to the stadium security guards needed at home games.
The nation’s economy is so close to pulling out of this great recession and to have the NFL somehow damper that progress would be really bad.
For fans, the lucky ones are those wearing Pittsburgh and Green Bay colors. To have your team in the Super Bowl just as the NFL’s apocalypse nears is the best-case scenario. Who knows what a strike will do to free agents and newly recruited college athletes. For Green Bay and Pittsburgh it’s their chance to go out on top, forever.
For teams like, say, the Detroit Lions, where they have been so bad for so long and just recently it looked like there was light at the end of the tunnel, the work stoppage could end that momentum. A strike will halt any progress struggling teams may have.
I know that the NFL can get better, and I know that owners have to constantly watch the bottom line but an 18 game season does not seem like the right answer. I don’t think it will improve the NFL season because there will be no players left standing in the homestretch of an 18 game season.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to make the players and owners happy. Both sides must understand that if they can’t compromise at least a little, the league will lose ground as America’s most prized sport.
I hope that reality never sets in, but it would seem the end is near. I guess it’s back to NASCAR on Sundays, which isn’t such a bad thing. We could be stuck with the XFL on Sunday afternoons.