A Super Bowl ‘What If?’
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 02:02
Put simply, momentum is vastly overrated in professional sports. Usually, it’s just employed as a narrative that allows fans and analysts to depict one moment as the turning-point of an entire game when generally other factors are responsible.
But on Super Bowl Sunday in New Orleans, after the Superdome’s lights shut off when Bane teamed up with Sean Payton to threaten all of humankind — and specifically NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — it is hard to believe that the momentum of the game didn’t shift at least a little bit.
While the 49ers followed up the delay with another three-and-out drive, something clearly had changed, as their offense scored 23 points in the final 28 minutes of the game after struggling to get six in the first 32. Colin Kaepernick started playing aggressively again, and the Ravens’ defensive unit, which generally has more anger packed into it than a lonely teenager watching the Bar Refaeli commercial, looked less energetic and assertive. Between halftime and the blackout, the players spent over an hour doing nothing but stretching. It would make sense, then, that any emotional advantage that Baltimore may have had was nullified.
So the question is: What if the 49ers had come back to win? Personally, I don’t think fans properly appreciate just how controversial, catastrophic and downright crazy that scenario would have been.
First of all, the city of Baltimore would not have looked very good on Monday morning, and I’m only using a euphemism because I can’t think of a phrase that adequately describes the situation. When the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, huge riots took place in downtown Vancouver that night. Game 7’s score was 4-0, meaning it wasn’t close ... and, oh yeah … those were CANADIANS. Yes, Canadians — known as the most mellow, kind and trusting people on Earth. (To remind you of this stereotype, search “Family Guy Canadian Alcatraz” on YouTube. You’re welcome.)
Now let’s turn Vancouver into Baltimore, a city that already has a history of violence; let’s make the game the last one for the franchise’s most recognizable player ever; and let’s have the team lose in a last-minute, heartbreaking fashion with absolutely no precedent to something as wild as a 34-minute delay. Frankly, Baltimore’s riots would have made Vancouver’s riots look like Louisville’s performance vs. Georgetown: a no-show.
On a few lighter notes, let’s look at the other potential consequences of a Niners win.
First, an epic collapse and comeback would have meant we’d be subjected to even more “Thanksgiving dinner for the Harbaugh family is going to be awkward this year!” jokes. (Oh, I get it, because the winning and losing coaches in the Super Bowl will be at the same Thanksgiving table because they’re brothers … HA!)
Secondly, because many analysts and fans judge individual players far too heavily on his team’s success — which involves factors out of his control — Joe Flacco wouldn’t be given as much credit as he’s deservedly getting now. Colin Kaepernick’s early game struggles would be forgotten, meanwhile, and we’d only remember how clutch, gutsy and athletic he is.
Then there’s the fact that one villain (Randy Moss) would have a Super Bowl ring, and another (Bernard Pollard) wouldn’t. Plus the “Blackout Bowl” would replace the “Superbaugh” and the “Harbowl” as the game’s nickname. Actually, I still want this to happen.
The Blackout Bowl would be considered another demerit on Roger Goodell’s resume as commissioner, as he would have resided over possibly the sketchiest Super Bowl result ever. I’m not Goodell’s biggest fan, by any means, but I’m fairly certain he had nothing to do with the lights going off.
The Barstool Blackout Tour would cash in on the marketing goldmine by creating a West-Coast event that starts in San Francisco. My intro-level economics education tells me that demand would be so high for a limited supply of tickets that the equilibrium selling price of one ticket would be the same as the price listing for Mark Zuckerberg’s San Francisco-area house.
And finally, Super Bowl XLVII would go down as possibly the biggest “asterisk” game of all time, right up there with the USA vs. USSR 1972 Olympics basketball game and that time I lost in NBA 2K because my friend hit my controller on a last-second free throw.
For years to come, 90 percent of the conversations among Ravens fans about that game would inevitably start with the obnoxious quip that “the wrong team won.” Ultimately, then, the NFL dodged a huge bullet when the 49ers’ comeback came up short, and so did the city of Baltimore and many people in between.
However little comfort that may be for the 49ers and their fans.
Tom Hoff is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. DOWN TO THE WIRE appears every Friday.