Asking the unaskable
Patriots' idolaters don't want to hear it. Nor might anything at this point rain on their interminable parade. But for whatever it's worth, History is likely to judge their team's wild and crazy conquest in Soupey LI as not so much an epic triumph of indomitable will as a shocking meltdown by an out-classed opponent that clumsily chose the ultimate moment to dissolve into a bowl of jelly.
In other words, was not the Patriots alleged masterwork actually more a gift, although to their credit they had enough presence of mind to accept it? This necessarily raises to degrees of brilliance the ageless question: is it heroism that inevitably decides the day or just mere stupidity?
Whatever the answer, the Falcons' folly -- replete with all those inconceivable blunders they regaled us with in that fourth quarter -- will go on magnifying long after the music ends with Brothers Brady and Belichick taking their final bows. In the end, the recognition of the Falcons' stunning pratfall will lessen appreciation for the Patriots' majestic achievement.
Or at least, so it will be seen in all sectors of the Republic where Pats' idolaters don't abound; most of the continent west of Worcester. When Football America recovers from the shock they'll detest your team more than ever. Although one supposes you wouldn't have it any other way.
Still there's one issue on which you might have to give the devils their due. It's that ridiculous way the NFL allows its most important game -- actual championships and world-class moments -- to be finally determined.
With a bloody coin-toss!
The idea of it has always been ridiculous. But the NFL had been lucky in not having a title-game compromised. Now that it's tainted one of sports history's more spectacular moments it should be seen for what it is; an absurdity. This too, the rank and file will eventually wake up and recognize. It's got to be corrected.
It's simple. If the game goes into overtime, you have to give both teams a chance to move the ball. There should be none of this nonsense about if the kick-off receiving team gets a field-goal the other guys get a chance, but if they score a touchdown they don't. Could a safety decide it? What kind of gibberish is this?
When they lined up for the coin-toss you might have wagered your first-born the Patriots would win it, given the tidal-wave swamping the moment. And when they did, it was clear the Falcons were cooked, given the utter exhaustion of their defense and their overall near-traumatized state. Moreover, one agrees if they'd been given a chance to move the ball they'd have surely fizzled. They could have been given a 20-down set and not scored. They could have been allowed to move the ball until 2:00 a.m. and not scored, given how whacked-out they'd become.
But that's not the point. They should have been given the chance.
What if in Baseball in the seventh game of the World Series with the score tied after nine-innings, it's decreed the game ends as soon someone scores a run and when the visiting team tallies in the top of the tenth it's all over with the home-team never getting a chance to hit. There would be to put it mildly hell to pay. But how is it any different from what the NFL features?
Leaving us with the question: how does the NFL get away with it?
More folly, your Bruins
As was recently suggested here to be forthcoming, the Bruins confounded front-office troika has finally stepped-up. They've acquiesced to the inevitable, appeased the owner, and taken the easy road by dumping their estimable Coach, Claude Julien, who was the least of their problems.
Regrettably, befuddled GM Don Sweeney declined my suggestion he might consider firing himself if improving his beleaguered team were truly his goal. Don joins a long list of sporting moguls who've ignored such well-intended advice over the years. We don't take it personally. But the Bruins and their devoted legions should.
These are rough times for the old Black and Gold and the faint signs of life exhibited since Julien's purging are hardly enough to allay fears amassed over the last three seasons. So they've won three games since the troika anointed Julien their scapegoat. But be wary of reading too much into that. Driven by guilt, hockey players always respond with optimal effort after their coach gets canned; the more so if they well-know it was undeserved, surely the case here.
The coaching shuffle was but the first and simplest step. Long term, it will only get tougher for the troika of Sweeney, Cam Neely, and the absentee-owner's Number Three Son. The smart money says they aren't equal to it. And while on the subject, may we politely inquire, what exactly does Mr. Neely do? Besides stir the pot.
Questions! They abound. It's the answers that are in short supply.
- Clark Booth is a renowned Boston sports writer and broadcast journalist. He spent much of his long career at Boston’s WCVB-TV Chanel 5 as a correspondent specializing in sports, religion, politics and international affairs.