Who Should You Root For?
As the NFL Playoffs heat up, the casual football fan finds himself lost. Gone are the 49ers, Cowboys, and Packers in the NFC, the Broncos and the Bills in the AFC. Love them or hate them, these teams dominated the 90's and had supporters and haters throughout the world. Rooting for Cinderella teams is fun, but not when they all are. So I decided to perform a community service and separate the good guys from the bad for those of you not paying attention.
MIAMI at JACKSONVILLE: The Miami Dolphins are the traditional team in this matchup, Jacksonville Jaguars are the upstart, although they have been a favorite to get to the Super Bowl for two years. Let's examine them by category:
Coaches: Hard to believe Jimmy Johnson is the good guy. Tom Coughlin is a complete control freak, eats, drinks, and breathes football -- everything that makes football coaches the scariest of all sports coaches/managers. JJ, on the other hand, has backed off a little this year, deciding to not lose his current family the way he lost his first. It would be a great sign if a coach could win after making that decision.
Fans: Miami fans have been without a Super Bowl visit since 1983. Jacksonville fans have never known real adversity. Miami fans have started to get a little whiny, but it's hard to blame them.
Players: Dan Marino, an all-time great under fire vs. Mark Brunell, the player most likely to thank Jesus for a Super Bowl trip -- like He cares. Most of Miami 's bad apples have already been arrested, Coughlin would kill any players who stepped out of line. Edge to Miami here.
Owners: Can't remember them, so they can't matter.
Bonus Points: None to speak of.
Final decision: Go Dolphins.
WASHINGTON at TAMPA BAY:
Coaches: Tony Dungy is an old-fashioned coach, doesn't believe in constant changing of players, you have to like that. Norv Turner is a loser who has finally managed to get to the playoffs. Dungy has spent years trying to overcome not having a QB. On the other hand, he has to have some responsibility for thinking Trent Dilfer is a championship level QB. Slight edge to Bucs here, you have to root for African-American coaches to get to the Super Bowl.
Fans: Buc fans have suffered more than any fans outside of New Orleans. Redskin fans wear Indian headdresses -- ugh.
Players: Skins have Darrell Green, who's almost as old as me and Brad Johnson, who should have been running the Viking offense. Bucs have hard-working Mike Alstott and rookie Shaun King. Edge to Skins.
Owners: Nondescript Tampa ownership edges out young punk Dan Snyder in Washington. It's Snyder's first year, you have to lose first.
Bonus Points: Redskins have the most offensive team nickname in all of sports. Buccaneers only offend those who have been pillaged by pirates.
Final Decision: Bucs Rule
MINNESOTA at ST. LOUIS:
Coaches: Tough one, Dennis Green has been under fire and like Dungy above, gets the affirmative action vote. Rams have Dick Vermiel, back after a long layoff, proving that old guys can still do it and crying like a little baby. Have to go with the old guy, edge to Rams.
Fans: Viking fans have gone 40 years without winning a Super Bowl, losing four of them. It would be nice if they could win one. Ram fans, or are they old Cardinal fans, have a history of losing, but are hard to get a grip on. Edge to Vikings.
Players: Vikes have Jeff George at QB, who I hate, and the unpleasant Randy Moss at wide receiver. But they have Robert Smith, a man who took a year off from playing big-time college football because it was interfering with his studies. Rams have Kurt Warner, the Cinderella of Cinderellas -- undrafted, played in Europe, needed an injury to get the job, ended up as MVP. Tough call.
Owners: Vikings have an owner who lives in San Antonio, Red McCombs, but who flies in early to watch practice. He gets points for that. Rams have Georgia Frontiere, a former lounge singer who inherited the team after her husband's suspicious death, then forced her stepson out of the business and moved the team from Los Angeles to St. Louis. Overhwelming edge to Vikes.
Bonus Points: Vikings didn't move when they had economic problems.
Final Decision: I live in Los Angeles, this is an easy call -- I don't want to see Georgia holding the Super Bow trophy. Go Vikes.
TENNESSEE at INDIANAPOLIS:
Coaches: Colts coach Jim Mora has never won a playoff game -- took the Saints this far several times. Titans Jeff Fisher came up with and practiced that lateral kickoff return that won last week, amazing. Edge to Colts.
Fans: Tennessee fans finally showed up this year, but are awfully new to the NFL. Colts' fans have suffered since the team showed up from Baltimore. Titan fans are divided about rooting for their own team, or former Tennessee Vol hero Peyton Manning. Edge to Colts.
Players: Peyton Manning finished school, now has a good job. Of course, so did Titan QB Steve McNair, although with a lot less pressure to leave early. Colts Edgerrin James has natty dreads and refused to cut them off to get more product endorsements - very cool.
Owners: A pox on both their houses. Titans (nee Oilers) abandoned Houston, Colts snuck out of Baltimore in the dark of night. Colts are no longer run by the man who left, but by his son. Slight edge to Indy.
Bonus Points: Titans play outdoors, that should be worth something.
Final Decision: A tossup, but the Colts are further removed from the city they abandoned.