Let’s just get this out of the way on Day 1 of the Super Bowl hype-a-thon: there will be brothers coaching against each other.
That storyline will quickly become unbearable, only because it’ll be repeated hourly. There will be soft, poetic features in which you learn about the antics in the Harbaugh household, and that time Jim put a wad of gum in John’s hair. Oh, what fun.
But even if you’re relentlessly annoyed, there’s history that needs to be acknowledged. There’s a very strong possibility that this is the first and only time we see brothers coach against each other in a Super Bowl. Maybe one day Rob Ryan will stop being an overrated waddling troll, and he’ll get consideration for a head coaching gig. And maybe one day brother Rex will stop being a now slightly undersized clown. Until then, we’re left with the Harbaughs, and beyond Feb. 3 we’ll likely need a rematch to see another Sibling Super Bowl.
So sure, since it’s so unique that storyline will dominate the next two weeks. You’ll be nauseated, but that doesn’t make the history any less, er, historic. But what else will captivate our hearts and minds until Super Bowl Sunday? Well, Colin Kaepernick potentially winning a Super Bowl in only his 10th career start would be rather remarkable, especially since he’d do it using a read-option offense that’s rising in popularity, but is still considered innovative and is only trending upwards. Whatever, it’s just a gimmick (sigh). For the record, Tom Brady made his 17th career start when he guided the Patriots to their Super Bowl win in 2001. Just sayin’.
What else? There’s this Ray Lewis character who’s a complete asshole. Right, Anna Burns Welker?
1. Ray Lewis playing his last game in the Super Bowl
Yeah, I know. This is already only a notch below the Harbowl in terms of its ability to make you scream obscenities at puppies. And of course, it’s only going to get worse, fast.
But similar to the Harbaughs, before you start hating yourself you need to acknowledge history here, and how rare it is for a legend to end his career while under the game’s brightest spotlight. Ray Lewis is arguably the best player to ever play his position, and John Elway was among the best at his. Elway famously ended his career in 1998 after walking off as a champion, and becoming the oldest Super Bowl-winning quarterback at the age of 38. More recently, Jerome Bettis also faded into retirement bliss after the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2006.
2. Will this be Randy Moss’ last game too?
You’ll look at Moss’ overall numbers this year, and greet them with a shrugging meh. Then you’ll realize that he finished with 434 receiving yards despite extremely minimal targets and receptions. He caught only 28 balls on 50 targets, yet he still turned six of them into +20 yard receptions while playing behind Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham for much of the year. Moss has seen the field a little more often following Manningham’s season-ending ACL and PCL tears in late December.
Still, he’s very rarely the primary option on any play, and last spring the 49ers used a first-round pick on A.J. Jenkins. A team simply doesn’t invest that highly in any player at any position without the intention of giving him a chance to rise up the depth chart. That makes a soon-to-be 36-year old a very expendable placeholder, and unlikely to be re-signed by San Francisco after his one-year contract.
3. Is Joe Flacco Elite?
Dear god. Please, just let this die.
To me, this discussion is infinitely more unbearable than the Lewis and Harbaugh features that will be consuming our souls. At least those stories provide the opportunity for the aforementioned puff pieces which turn into mini documentaries. You’ll either love them, or hate them, and if it’s the latter you can go do something else with your life for a few minutes. Anything would be more productive, really. Play spoons.
But there’s no answer to the Flacco question, and there never will be. We need to forever ban the use of the word “elite” in reference to quarterbacks, and admittedly I’m guilty of using it too during weaker moments. Every quarterback is elite, or they might be elite, or they want to be elite, or they could be elite. We’ve over-saturated football discourse with the use of the term so much that it’s now become meaningless.
And for the record, I like Flacco. Really, honest. I think he’s a fine quarterback who often does great things. But even if he continues to do those great things on Feb. 3, is he then automatically thrust into the same tier as, say, Drew Brees and Tom Brady? See, you can’t answer that. You’re either screaming in agreement or disagreement, and then they’ve won.
So, are there other major potential storylines you’re looking forward to that I missed? This probably happened. But don’t worry, we have two weeks to discuss anything and everything.