Championship Weekend Rewind

Kaepernick: Have you been paying attention?!

It is shocking to me how people continue to be surprised that Colin Kaepernick can throw. The whole running quarterback thing works with him the same way it works with Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. It works because they all can throw. Kaepernick has an absolute cannon and this isn't news. I realize with less games there are people who are watching the 2nd year QB play for the first time, but considering Jim Harbaugh's decision was one of the most discussed storylines in the NFL this year, I'm shocked that no one seemingly watched him play. He's got an absolute bazooka for an arm and he's accurate too. Yesterday he was 16/21. Five incompletions in the NFC Championship game? Spectacular. Jim Harbaugh might come off in the media as an arrogant jerk, but he can coach and now absolutely no one can doubt his decision to replace Alex Smith as his team has gotten a step further than they did last season.

More proof Harbaugh can coach is the mental toughness his team's shown the past two weeks. Last week they started with Kaepernick throwing a pick 6 and only bounced back to score 45. This week they went down 17-0 early in the 2nd quarter and were trailing 202 to -2 in the yardage department. That disparity is unheard of and there's no way of twisting that the Falcons were absolutely dominating. And then they weren't, because the 49ers stayed true to who they were, found a weakness (Atlanta not covering Vernon Davis time and again) and took advantage of opportunities. Make a play here (Chris Culliver INT), a play there (recover Matt Ryan's inexplicable dropped snap fumble) and BOOM! (*John Madden voice*) you're in the Super Bowl.

The Brothers Harbaugh

The story lines leading up to the Super Bowl are a producer's dream come true. Or maybe they're not because everyone seems to hate them. For whatever reason, Twitter last night exploded in disgust at the thought of hearing about the Harbaugh brothers for the next two weeks. Maybe it's because they're brash. Maybe it's because I follow a lot of Patriots fans and they were bitter. I don't know what the reason is but I don't see why people are poo-poo'ing this outside of being cynical.

There are 32 jobs in the NFL and getting one is hard. John got one from a special teams coordinator position. Jim got his by coming up through college at Stanford. John's playing career ended after his time as a defensive back at Miami (OH). Jim played quarterback in the NFL. They are the first pair of brothers to be head coaches in the league and now, in just their 2nd year in the leauge together they're in the Super Bowl. Both have been as successful as nearly any coach in league history since taking over their respective teams and now one of them will be a Super Bowl champ by beating his brother.

You'll hear about their dad, Jack this week and you should. He was an assistant under Bo Schembechler at Michigan before taking on a few head coaching gigs of his own. Oh and if having two Super Bowl sons isn't enough for Jack and his wife Jackie, their daughter is married to Indiana coach Tom Crean. This is cool. I've seen some stories done before, but I'm in for a good one or two this week.

The Ray Lewis Dilemma

On a far more serious note, the other biggest story this week is Ray Lewis. When did it become okay to call someone who wasn't convicted of murder, a murderer. I don't really care that you think you know what happened on a night in Atlanta where two people were killed cause chances are you've just lazily repeated "Ray Lewis is a murderer" without reading up on what did happen that night in Atlanta. This wasn't a cold blooded murder where two dudes got stabbed. There was a street fight in which it's not real clear who started it, but the first major blow was thrown when one of the guys who wound up dead hit one of Lewis's friends in the head with a champagne bottle. What happened after, in which two of Lewis's friends pulled knives isn't clear in part because of how Lewis acted in the aftermath. Eventually Lewis's men were acquitted when it was determined they killed out of self-defense.

Yes, Ray Lewis did some sketchy stuff including dumping his blood stained suit, but he said he was never involved in the fight at all. In fact, he said he tried to leave. He tried to get his friends to leave before things even went down. In the end, it was a street fight gone wrong in which Ray Lewis might've not even hit anyone, nevertheless killed anyone but it's easier for you to just lazily repeat "Ray Lewis is a murder" and move on with your day and I think that's pretty messed up.

I don't want to use the word messed there but I'd like to get a job likely licensed by the FCC. It's not okay to throw around that someone is a murderer. You don't know and quite frankly the only person that does know is Ray Lewis. Yes, he lied to police but he was scared out of his mind about losing his career. Even if he was just a witness, mental clarity isn't going to happen right after you've seen people get murdered and you've been shot at. Self-preservation is.

Here's what I do know - since that night Ray Lewis has dedicated himself to living a life of faith and making the world around him better. He's helped countless people through charity and through action. He's made his community better. He's inspired. He's led. These things are admirable and they are undeniable. Do they make lying to police okay? Do they make murder okay? Of course they don't, however I know the good Ray Lewis has done and I don't know what happened on that night in Atlanta and neither do you. I think SI contributor Andy Glockner put it pretty well:


I think this is totally fair. That night is part of the Ray Lewis story. However it's not the whole story and if you're going to lazily call him a murderer I'm not real sure how you sleep at night. That's some heavy stuff to just throw out there considering you have no idea if it's true. That's why we have a legal system which said that he's not and that fact is inarguably true.

As for those mad that you're going to hear Ray preach for two weeks, I get it. I'm not going to hate on a man who has totally submitted himself to a higher power. It's not an act. It's who Ray Lewis is. Do I want to hear it for two weeks? Not particularly but at the same time who am I to question someone's dedication to his faith? Plus, Texans DE Connor Barwin already won best joke in this category.


I think even Tim and Ray would laugh at that.


The Brady/Belicheck Dilemma

What do you do with a coach and quarterback who haven't won since 2004, yet have still been more successful than any one during that time? That's what we have in Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck. The only more successful coach and quarterback that you can argue is the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning combination that's beaten the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, but if we're going overall consistency New England wins.

Sometimes we (the collective sports media) try way too hard on this stuff. Here's what we do: Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck are as good as it gets in the NFL, but winning is really really hard. The Patriots are the poster child for this with their 18-1 season in 2007. The Giants barely made the playoffs that year and in fact lost to New England late in the regular season. All they had to do was get hot at the right time and beat New England once. They did. They're the champs. It's just really hard to win in the NFL.

There is also the fact that Brady is 8-7 since his 9-0 start to his playoff career and the Patriot's haven't won since Spygate. Brady's defenses haven't been as good since 2004 and as close as he is to it, you can't expect him to be perfect every week against the league's best defenses, which is who you get in the playoffs. The Spygate thing is annoyingly interesting. If Belicheck didn't think it would help him win, he wouldn't have done it. Since Spygate he's been to two Super Bowls and lost them by a combined 7 points. Could some sort of illegal tape have been enough to swing it? He did win his first 3 Super Bowls all on late field goals. Although I don't believe it to be true, it's a perfectly reasonable question.

The guy's clearly an amazing coach. He's had 10 straight double-digit win seasons good for 9 of 10 division titles. He's great. His legacy, Spygate and later career post-season failures, is what it is. Also clear, he's a sore loser. Cue Shannon Sharpe, roll tape.



If it was up to Bill Belicheck, he wouldn't talk to the media ever. He hates it. It annoys him. It's also part of his job. He gets paid millions because there are fans who pay to watch him and his team play a game. The media is the link between him and those fans, who whether he likes it or not, he owes something to. Being cold to the media doesn't help you win. I get it. I hate losing. I despise it. Yet, I understand character is important and as Shannon Sharpe says, there's something to be said for being gracious in defeat. Belicheck has a personality but refuses to show it. He clearly thinks it helps him win, but the reality is it helps him none on Sundays. It's long overdue for the 60 year old coach to stop being a sore loser and grow up.

My Own Dilemma

Colin Cowherd has a saying I love: "love your family, like your sports." I love sports in that it's my job. It's my passion. It doesn't define me. My Twitter profile will never have what teams I root for in it because that doesn't define who I am. For so many, it is their identity which is why when people say "sports don't matter" I tell them "you don't get it," however there's an ever growing group of people who seem to have lost perspective of just how much they matter compared to the rest of the world.

For some reason it's become okay to pretty much say whatever the hell you want as a sports fan. You're allowed to hate people. You're allowed to call an athlete some pretty heavy stuff (see above). You're allowed to be completely wrong without being considered an idiot as long as you're supporting your team. In whatever sports culture we live in, this is just the way it goes.

Games swing on every play on Twitter where everything is definitive and final until your next tweet in 30 seconds. Everybody sucks or they're great. There is no middle ground. I just don't get it. I never will. I don't follow people on Twitter I don't want to follow and all it takes is a few idiotic comments for me to unfollow, yet if I had followed that rationale yesterday I think I would have been down to three people. I follow people I like to hear from, but yesterday I couldn't take the whining about pretty much everything. I eventually just clocked out, which is saying something for me during a sporting event. I couldn't do it. We've become such a cynical society that hates everyone and everything and it bothers me greatly.

Herm Edwards famously said "don't press send!" and it's some pretty damn good advice. Part of the fun of Twitter is riding the emotion and feeling like you're watching with a couple million of your closest friends, but if it's gonna be as negative and petty as it was yesterday, I'd rather just find a nice quiet room to watch by myself.