Dear Roger Goodell,
As an avid NFL fan of 27 years I am writing on this, the eve of the Super Bowl, with a broken heart. The reason is not that my favorite team won't be playing tomorrow. As a Detroit Lions fan, I've become accustomed to bad teams and early season conclusions. As a Lions fan, it's been about a decade since I've had any real rooting interest in the playoffs. But as I said, this isn't the reason for my writing to you.
I am writing to you with a heavy heart because tomorrow night, one of two teams will bring home the most prestigious award in the history of professional sports.
On the one hand, you have the perennial powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers, with their traditional solid running game, stellar defense, and over-rated quarterback. A team whose regular season included 12 wins, a respectable amount, but done in very unspectacular fashion. For starters, 6 of the Steelers 12 wins were by less than a touchdown. Throw in the fact that they had 4 "gimme" games against the Browns and Bengals, and finish with the fact that most of their games against playoff-bound teams in the regular season ended with a Pittsburgh loss. They did manage to beat the Ravens twice (by a combined 7 points) and accidentally beat the 8-8 Chargers (by a point), but lost every other game to a playoff-bound opponent (losing to Tennessee, Indianapolis, New York, and Philadelphia). A 3-4 record against playoff teams is hardly noteworthy, especially considering those three wins came by an average of 2.7 points, and the second Ravens game in which two blown calls loudly criticized by analysts everywhere gave the Steelers an undeserved win. Then when they got to the playoffs, the Steelers faced, once again, the Chargers and Ravens. They haven't had to face any of the league's tough teams in the playoffs. They have had just about the easiest road to the Super Bowl of any team in recent memory. Are the Steelers a good team? Yes. Are they a great team? No. Great teams find a way to beat other good teams. They don't just accidentally squeak by average teams.
On the other side of the field there's the sentimental favorite, the Arizona Cardinals, making the team's first-ever visit to the Super Bowl. While the Cardinals have played exceptionally well in the playoffs, they were a completely different team during the regular season. The Cardinals had the good fortune of playing in the NFC West, home of the 7-9 49ers, 4-12 Seahawks, and the 2-14 Rams. Yet even playing in such a poor division, the Cardinals only managed 9 wins. Even more telling are some of the margins the Cardinals lost by (21 points to the Jets, 28 points to the Eagles, 21 points to the Vikings, and 40 points to the Patriots. A lot of teams didn't even score 40 points in any one game this season and the Cardinals lost a game by that many. Not only that, but the Cardinals were even worse than the Steelers when it came to big games against playoff-bound opponents, with a dismal 1-4 record in those games. Again, this hardly seems like a great team.
And these two teams are playing in the Super Bowl for the Lombardi trophy? Sadly, yes. And that, Commissioner Goodell, is why I am writing you with a heavy heart on the eve of the biggest day of the NFL year. What I am proposing are two things. First, instead of calling it the "Super Bowl," call it the "Better Than Average Bowl," which is more suited to the two lackluster teams involved. Second, don't diminish the prestige of the coveted Lombardi trophy by giving it to one of these two undeserving teams. Instead, give them a new trophy. I propose calling this new trophy for Better Than Average Bowl winners the "Lombardi Junior", or the "Easy-Mode Lombardi," or maybe even "Lombardi's Red-Headed Stepchild." Anything but the actual Lombardi trophy. Because honestly, seeing either of these sub-standard Super Bowl competitors hoisting the Lombardi trophy tomorrow night, will probably make me cry.