By Troy Peek
To me, something strange happened last night as the Seattle Seahawks booked their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII with an NFC Championship victory over the San Francisco 49ers; the Seahawks became the villains! They will head to the big game in New York City with the vast majority of casual fans rooting against them. Here are some things that swayed me in this thinking:
The NaVorro Bowman situation: The All-Pro 49ers linebacker made an incredible play in the fourth quarter of the game, stripping Jermaine Kearse at the sideline and holding on to the ball, all while sustaining a potentially career-ending injury to his knee. He fell on the play with the ball and should have been ruled down. However, the officials made a grave mistake and didn't rule him down, thus the injured player was swarmed by a scrum for the ball. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch ended up with it, but can we really applaud him for ripping the ball out of someone's hands while they are in agony? If anything, that's just dirty play. Adding insult to injury is that the obvious call was for some reason unreviewable (how is it that there is always a terribly controversial play that's unreviewable? Why don't we just make everything reviewable?). Further cementing disgust with this team from Seattle was that Bowman had popcorn thrown onto him while he was carted off the field... real classy, Seattle...
Speaking of classy, let's talk about Richard Sherman, the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the NFL! While there is no doubt that he made a tremendous play to win the game, his actions afterwards displayed the complete opposite of sportsmanship. He hardly celebrated with his teammates before running over to pat 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree on the bum, then he went and gave a choke sign to Colin Kaepernick, and then he gave us a post-game interview for the ages, talking himself up and telling Crabtree to shut up. Richard Sherman is an absolute clown and is now the most hated player in football!
But even before yesterday's events, the Seahawks have been much maligned. With 5 suspensions for performing enhancing drugs since 2010, they have been the most affected team. They also have the most defensive back penalties this season, and have been exposed as cheaters, who hold onto receivers at an alarmingly high rate, knowing that many penalties go unnoticed. Their head coach, Pete Carroll, arrived from USC where the school's football program fell into disarray due to NCAA violations that he instituted (he ditched the school right before the mess became public). The Seattle Seahawks have also benefited from several high profile refereeing errors. In addition to the Bowman incident, there was the heinous "Fail Mary" episode last year in which the Seahawks were erroneously granted a last second touchdown to beat the Green Bay Packers (I still growl whenever I hear talk about Russell Wilson and his incredible home record!). And the way the team acted upon winning the game... it was like they had already won the Super Bowl. Sorry boys, but the toughest test is up ahead...
If there is one hope for football fans, it's that the "sheriff" is coming to town. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Manning is here to save the day. If there's any team that can put these annoying sea pigeons to bed it's Manning and the Denver Broncos. Go watch Manning's post-game remarks after the AFC Championship game. He speaks about how great his "team" is. He is entirely thankful and humbled by the opportunity he has. He doesn't talk about how he's the greatest quarterback to ever play the game (though he actually is), he doesn't call out opponents and throw insults. In fact he called Tom Brady, his defeated competitor, "great." He has been the league's most beloved and respectable character throughout his great career. And so America at large will clearly be supporting the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Here's to hoping that Manning abuses Sherman all day and throws for 400 yards and 6 scores, leading the Broncos to a thrashing over the Seahawks! May Richard Sherman get burned on several obvious pass interference calls and go crying into the locker room without shaking anyone's hand following the beating.
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