Sunday, February 2, 2020

Super Bowl; Kobe

I don't really have a dog in this year's Super Bowl fight.

If the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers or Charlotte Panthers aren't involved, the Super Bowl to me is just another football game with sometimes interesting commercials.

Oh, yeah. And the New England Patriots. I almost forgot. The Tom Brady-era Pats became my favorite team to root against.

So, on the one hand, it's a little difficult for me to get into San Francisco or Kansas City – the West Coast against Middle America, while I sit here on the Eastern Seaboard twiddling my thumbs, anticipating my chili and cheese dip.

On the other hand, there's this: the San Francisco 49ers have a nearly unstoppable quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, who just happened to be Brady's backup when he, too, was with the Patriots. Consequently, he has two Super Bowl rings to show what a talented second stringer he was.

So Garoppolo brings that New England connection with him to the game. OK. That's gives me a reason to pull against the 49ers, even though they come into the game as perhaps the best defensive unit in the league. And defense, as we all know, wins titles.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, can draw a Philadelphia connection behind head coach Andy Reid. It was Reid who coached the Eagles into the Super Bowl in 2005, where they lost to the Spygate Patriots (ugh) 24-21. Reid, 61, is nearly a Rocky-like legend in Philly and I'd like to see him get his elusive Super Bowl victory to complete an impressive résumé.

The Chiefs also have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league in 24-year-old Patrick Mahomes, who almost singlehandedly rallied the Chiefs from big deficits against Houston and Tennessee to get into the Super Bowl.

My prediction? My heart says Kansas City, but my brain says San Francisco. So, having said that, I'm picking the Chiefs 35-28.

•  •  •

I was watching last week's Farmers' Insurance Open golf tournament when Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz interrupted themselves to announce there had been a helicopter crash and that former NBA star Kobe Bryant had been killed in the accident.

That news didn't quite register with me, so I backed up the video to hear it again. They said the same thing, word for word.

Now, I've never been a big Lakers fan, but this news sent a shiver through me. Bryant was only a few years retired from a 20-year NBA career – all with the Lakers – and he was only 41 years old with a wife and four daughters. One of his daughters, Gianna, died in the crash with him, along with seven other passengers.

Bryant, of course, came straight to the NBA fresh out of high school in Philadelphia and built a spectacular career that might rank him among the top five professionals of all time.

So I couldn't hold back the tears when I heard the news and explained to Kim what happened. It was so unfair.

We mostly revere our athletes – or love them, or hate them, or absolve them (a young Bryant was once charged with rape, but the defendant refused to testify and charges were dropped), or ignore them, or embrace them – mostly because of their skill sets, I guess. They do things with strength, quickness and coordination that most of us can't and wish we could.

What can we take from this? Hard to say. There are no lessons to be learned here. Just a reminder that life is short and fleeting and that you have the quintessential choice to make of it what you will.

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