It’s that time of year again! Whether you be a football fan, sports fan in general, or just someone who shows up at parties for the excess of unhealthy Super Bowl snacks, it is a great day for everyone.
This year’s Super Bowl will take place in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens who rode a hot streak through the playoffs to represent the AFC.
This Super Bowl will differ from those of the past. The story lines for this year’s game are endless, and some of them are historic.
Ray Lewis’ “Last Ride”
Easily the most covered football story since the Ravens’ middle linebacker gave his speech back on January 2, it is nevertheless worth mentioning this subplot. Lewis has been in the NFL for 17 seasons, all with the Baltimore Ravens, and his last and only appearance in a Super Bowl contest occurred 12 seasons ago. Since informing both team members and the media of his intentions to retire at the end of this season, the Ravens have been playing inspired football. His leadership on and off the field has helped get this team where they are, and his teammates have definitely rallied around him. [NFL]
For the first time in Super Bowl history, we will see sibling head coaches trying to out-duel each other on the sidelines. Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers and John Harbaugh of the Ravens deserve as much credit as anyone for where their teams are. Jim made the difficult decision to stick with quarterback Colin Kaepernick even after the 3-year starter, Alex Smith, came back from a concussion. Kaepernick combined his arm strength and unique athleticism to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
The Ravens’ head coach made the decision of firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron in Week 14 of the regular season, promoting Jim Caldwell to the job. Since this decision, the Raven offense has increased in effectiveness, allowing them to outlast the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots on their own home fields. Even Cameron acknowledged it was the right decision. [ESPN]
A Viking Reunion
In the 1998 NFL Draft, both receiver Randy Moss and center Matt Birk were selected by the Vikings. They were two of the reasons why the Vikings offense was so effective in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. They are also part of the reason why their current teams are where they are.
Birk has put off retirement for years, but one has to imagine that should Baltimore win the Super Bowl, the 4-year Ravens’ center will go off into the sunset.
Moss, considered by many to be one of the greatest receivers ever, has said that he wants to play at least one more year but has also said he’s unhappy with his current role on the 49ers. While not the player he once was, Moss has reportedly taken on the mentor role for fellow receiver Michael Crabtree and has helped him become the player he is today.
These two Vikings greats were never seen as friends, and even butted heads on occasion, but they are two players that are as deserving as any to win their first Super Bowl ring. [ESPN]