Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Look, I’m not a sports guy. The Broncos are about the only team I follow with any regularity. The kids are all Hockey fans … players … spectators … attenders … nuts. That’s both boys and our grandson, all of whom can quote all kinds of statistics about the teams in the NHL, and all played the game in their day. Both Mike and Mark still have their pads and sticks and get out on the ice now and then. Our grandson is just starting out, and has won quite a few games in his first year of serious competition. He spends all day on the ice any time he can, and Linda and I are his companions to ice arenas north and south and here in town. So we have spent plenty of time at frozen ice arenas cheering the boys.

I’m not much of a baseball or basketball fan, although my dad follows round-ball regularly. I’ve been to one Nugget’s game and a couple dozen Rockies games, which beats the ten or twelve Bronco games I’ve seen in person. So obviously I’m a stay at home fan. The only time I really get interested, even in football, is when the Broncos are playing, and I admit I’ve missed some of their games because something better was happening on any given Sunday. So I’m not really a big fan of any sports … at all.

I am the numbers guy. I like numbers. They put value to things. It is numbers that separates science from silliness. Theoretical physics isn’t just about crack pot theories, but the theories have to produce numbers that match the real world, or else they are just “crack pot.”

So, now that a couple of days have passed, I’m able to analyze last Sunday’s game. It was an embarrassment to the Broncos, and not the first time they’ve been embarrassed in the big game. But then how many other teams have even made it to the final contest? Not that many. The Broncos can be proud of their record through the years just making it to the big contest. Certainly I can wish they had done better in those Super Bowls, but — remember — we have won two.

Here’s the Super Bowl appearance stats.

At the top of the list is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve been there 8 times with 6 wins. Their first appearance in 1974 was the start of a series of four wins that pretty much dominated the seventies. Plus they’ve been there in this century, losing the game in 2010, but winning the other two appearances in that decade.

Next in order is the Dallas Cowboys. They have 5 wins out of 8 appearances with their first in 1970 and the most recent a 1995 victory.

Third in all-time visits is the New England Patriots, who won 3 of their 7 times starting in 1985 and winning recent games in the first decade of the 21st century, but losing their last game in 2013.

And that brings us to the Denver Broncos. We’ve also been there 7 times for 2 wins, starting in 1977 and ending with the most recent loss this year. That puts us tied for 3rd place in number of times we’ve played in the big game, but not so high in the list of winners of the Super Bowl. We now own the most Super Bowl losses record with 5 … a record that we no longer share with the Vike's and the Bill's. We're now alone on top of that stat. Not quite the record we wanted, but it "is what it is."

Rounding out the top five attendees is the San Francisco 49ers with 6 visits and 5 wins. They first won the ring in 1981 and pretty well dominated the next twenty years. Their only loss was last year against the Ravens, who eked out a 3 point win.

Teams with 5 appearances include the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, the Raiders, and the Miami Dolphins. Best record amongst those are the Packers and Giants that have won 4 and the Redskins and Raiders who’ve won 3.

The Colts have split their 4 visits to the championship, while things are much worse for the Vikings and the Bills who have both been there 4 times without a win. The relatively new team, the Baltimore Ravens, have been twice and won both, while the Jets, Buccaneers, and Saints have won their only visit to the final game.

It can take a few Super Bowls to get past the “just glad to be here” and end up wearing the ring with only the Steelers, Packers, 49ers, Giants, and Bears plus the four teams mentioned in the last paragraph accomplishing a first time win.

So it is not surprising that some teams have been to the Super Bowl once, but without success. That’s the Chargers, Falcons, Titans, Panthers, and Cardinals. Some of these are new teams with appearances in the last twenty years.

At the very bottom of the heap are the four current teams that have never been to a Super Bowl. The Cleveland Browns had a chance a couple of times, but the Broncos proved to be their nemesis. Also in that list of losers are the Lions, Jaguars, and the Texans. (The Oilers never went to the Super Bowl either … at least not until they moved to Tennesee.)

The Rams have been to 3 Super Bowls and won 1. The Chiefs and the Bears have been to 2 and won 1. Then there’s the Bengals and Eagles who have been there twice, but without any success. The other team with 2 visits is the the recent champion Seattle Seahawks that have been there twice in recent times and not only won their second appearance, but DOMINATED that game.

So let’s talk about the Seahawks. A young team with a great future. I expect the next five or ten years will be filled with their successes and they will move up this list rather quickly. With an average player age of around 25 and a quarterback only in his second year, the team has the speed, the power, the skills, and the coaching to be back to the Super Bowl again and again. Oh, and did I mention their speed?

I wish the Broncos had performed better on Sunday. They were behind the eight ball from the first play at scrimmage when the ball sailed over Manning’s head and into the end zone. Heck, they were in trouble at the coin toss. They didn’t play their best game by a longshot, although a lot of that was due to the Seahawk defense that never let up. But the Broncos were terrible on both offense and special teams … although Denver was not good this year at preventing runbacks. And that on-side kick … I don’t want to talk about it. The only unit that performed even marginally well was the Denver defense, who put up a valiant fight. Remember, many of those Seahawk points were scored when the Denver defense wasn’t even on the field.

The game reminded me more of the Denver-Indianapolis game, or the game against Seattle in the pre-season. Manning was off his game from the get-go and when our receivers did catch a pass … and they actually caught a Super Bowl record number … they were immediately trounced by two or three Seahawk defenders for zero or less yards. Sad to say, but the very demeanor of the two teams from the first down showed which team had come to win. Super Bowl jitters are a real thing, and once you start getting behind in the score, the going get tougher. But I just didn’t see the same Broncos on the field that I saw in the AFC championship game. I’m not just blaming Manning. The whole team was flat and listless, with the possible exception of the defense. The rest of the Broncos just didn’t come ready to play. They were against their toughest opponent all year, but they also failed to shine in their own athletic prowess. It was just an off day for the whole team.

If I knew anything about sports psychology or if I had a clue what went wrong with the Broncos, then I’d be writing this for Sports Illustrated instead of my crummy blog. I do know one thing that went wrong for the Broncos: the Seattle Seahawks!

I don’t think I’ve seen a team come so ready to play in the Super Bowl. And this was a young and inexperienced team at their first big game. Wow, they executed from the first whistle and the game was never in doubt. I gotta respect that raw talent and motivation. I expect the Broncos will be back, but we’re an old and tired team at the end of their glory years and the Seahawks are a young team with a very bright future.

In interviews after the game, most of the ‘hawks talked about how they played each game the same. Every game was a championship. So when the final game came, they just went out and executed. They had some healthy players for the first time this season that added even more dynamite to a team made up of raw TNT. They played their best from first down to last, and they probably would have beat the Broncos even if Denver had not apparently walked under a ladder, broken a mirror, and crossed the path of a black cat before the coin toss.

The rules of the NFL tend to favor the offense. That doesn’t seem to have even slowed down the Seahawks. They demonstrated soundly that DEFENSE (with a pretty good offense) is how you win the big showdown. We can’t even blame the weather, although I thought the game was very noisy, which is not good for Manning and his “at-the-line” commands.

To tell you the truth, I don’t even think Denver was number 2 this year. I suspect the 49ers are more deserving of that position. They almost beat the Seahawks in Seattle. I’m a Bronco fan. Always was and always will be. But that doesn’t mean I’m stupid and can’t see the handwriting on the wall. This game could be played two more times. The score might end up closer, but I’m afraid the outcome would be the same.

One more thing I noticed. Although the Denver fans are loyal, it did appear this was a much bigger deal to Seattle than to Denver fans. Maybe they were a little more hungry for a win. There hadn’t been one in Seattle in a long, long time. Denver was going to its seventh Super Bowl and it might have become a bit repetitious to the hometown crowd. The excitement just wasn’t as high as in previous visits. Even the great home field advantage of Mile High seemed to dull in the face of the 12th man. A little psychology there, perhaps. Did the city of Seattle want … need it more? Have Super Bowls become nondescript for our jaded fans. Are there too many distractions in Denver with teams in every major league, plus competition from skiing and all the other sports Denver loves. Maybe it was just the strong coffee in Seattle. I don’t know. Don’t worry Denver. We’ve still got the sunshine. Take that Seattle!

I never was a Seahawk fan, nor am I a football or any kind of sports expert. Yet I recognize the dominance of the Seattle Seahawks and expect to see much more of them in the years ahead. Maybe it’s time to bring back the Orange Crush. Defense DOES win games, even against the highest scoring team in NFL history, if you believe the numbers. I know I do.