“Hey everyone, did you know that the Harbaugh brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl?”
This is the question that every major news outlet is asking us everyday leading up to the Super Bowl. I get it, this is a big moment as the first time in sports history two brothers face each other as opposing coaches. I am sick of hearing this story angle already and I can guarantee that you are too. So I have gone ahead and complied a list of Super Bowl storylines that do not involve a single Harbaugh for you.
Ray Lewis’s final game:
This has easily been story number two for most media outlets, but the simple fact is that it was getting a lot more publicity before both teams made the Super Bowl.
It creates the simple cliche about a superstar athlete ending by winning the pinnacle of his sport. Everyone looks for the storybook ending, the conquering hero rides off into the sunset, but there is an underlying theme that no one is talking about. That is the passing of the torch between the Ray Lewis and the Ravens’ defense to Patrick Willis and the Niners’ defense.
The Ravens’ defense is going to be the defense that is mentioned whenever the 2000 to 2010 era of the NFL is mentioned.
So with the retirement of Ray Lewis and possibly Ed Reed, the Ravens era will be ending and I strongly believe this Niners’ defense is too good to step right into that mantle with Willis as the face of the unit. The will be even more evident if the Niners’ defense can out play the Ravens to lead to a Super Bowl win.
The Ravens playing in the honor of Art Modell and Tevin Jones:
The Ravens have been playing with heavy hearts all season. The first loss the Ravens suffered was the death of team owner Art Modell. Modell was the one to bring football back to Baltimore after they lost their Colts to Indianapolis. So Modell was NFL football in the Baltimore area as he has made the Ravens one of the more successful franchises since its inception.
The second major loss the Ravens faced was the death of the brother of Torrey Smith. Less than three weeks after the passing of Art Modell, Tevin Jones was killed in a motorcycle accident the day before the Ravens beat New England in week 3. Smith went on to catch two key touchdown passes in the 31 to 30 victory. You have to believe that this will play a role in getting the Ravens motivated for this game.
Joe Flacco’s declaration that he is the best quarterback in the NFL:
Prior to the start of this season Flacco caught some flak for a quote he gave to a Baltimore based sports radio network. Flacco was asked if he was a top five quarterback in the NFL and he responded with,
“I mean, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top five, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way. I mean, C’mon? That’s not really too tough of a question. But that doesn’t mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that’s the way it is, that’s the way I feel it is, and that’s the way I feel it should be.”
This is eerily similar to Eli Manning’s “I am an elite quarterback” declaration. Eli went out and proved it by winning a Super Bowl that season and now Flacco has the opportunity to do the same. The fact that this is the final year of his contract means that the difference between victory and defeat is much more than how he is labeled among the pundits.
Does a Niners victory legitimize the spread option offense in the NFL?:
The spread zone-read option offense has been a point of contention for many fans of professional football. It has spread through the college ranks like wildfire and it has led to an evolution of the college quarterback, as you now often see quarterbacks as some of the best athletes on the entire field.
This rookie quarterback class has shown how productive a dual-threat quarterback can be, but its a guy from last year that is making the most noise. Colin Kaepernick is not your typical mobile quarterback standing six feet and four inches and weighing in at 230 pounds. Do not forget that he carries around an absolute cannon for an arm.
I think that is what separates Kaepernick and the current crop of rookies from the previous dual-threat quarterbacks that have entered the league.They can use the threat of the zone-read run to open up holes in the passing game. This has led to the question of “can the zone-read offense be a legitimate offense in the NFL?”
I believe with a win on the biggest stage running this offense could go a long way in making it legitimate. The biggest key is sustained success so the novelty factor can wear off. The general outlook is that these athletic quarterbacks entering the league are ushering this new era of offense and a Niners’ victory will be an accelerator to the process.
Randy Moss gets a second chance at his first Super Bowl ring:
Lost in the Ray Lewis retirement circus is that one of the most dynamic players in the history of the NFL is possibly looking to go out on
top as well. Randy Moss has not made any indications of what his plans are following this season.
The skill set seems to be declining a bit, but he is still a real threat that opposing defenses have to account for. One could see a Super Bowl ring could be the final piece to a sure fire Hall of Fame career for Moss, simply because Moss does not seem like the type of player that sticks around to just collect numbers.
Harbaugh has made it publicly known that he would love to have Moss return next season. Would having a ring add more fuel to fire to go out and try and get a second one or would Moss want to go out on top and ride in to sunset a champion?
What does a Super Bowl ring mean for Frank Gore’s legacy:
“Frank Gore a Hall of Fame candidate when his career all said and done?” This is a question I have been asking a lot of people lately.
Now, with the Niners in the Super Bowl, I have amended my question by asking, “Does a Super Bowl ring improve Gore’s chances at being voted into the Hall of Fame?”
Recently, Terrell Davis was quoted in an article by Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter as saying, “When he had his second injury, I’m sure people wrote him off and said his career is over, or maybe he’d be just an average back at the next level. Now he’s one of the top three backs in this league.”
Honestly, I feel like Gore has a legitimate shot at being in the Hall, but his years on those bad teams could hurt his chances as he was never given a shot to shine on the big stage and he has never been the household name. He finally has his chance on the NFL’s biggest stage and if he can come out and be the key cog that moves this offense it will go a long way in cementing his legacy as one of history’s best.