Last week, you'll recall that I picked the 49ers to win on the road against the Falcons in the NFC Championship game. Although I had compassion for all the diehard fans and good friends I know in Atlanta that were rooting for their squad to finally move on to the Super Bowl, I truly had no real investment in the game. I was excited to see two great offenses go head to head…that is, until Troy Aikman mentioned, during the broadcast, how intellectual Matt Ryan is and how he's cerebral and stays in the pocket. I looked up at the screen and saw Matt Ryan, 6'4" and 217 lbs, and wondered, "Where do we draw the line with how we describe quarterbacks?" I have always been critical of the typical “athleticism versus intellectualism” comments when it comes to describing Afro-American athletes…but I'm over it. It's not even a racial issue for me, anymore. I mean, does Aaron Rodgers lose IQ points because he chooses to use his legs when the opportunity presents itself, where Eli doesn't? I understand some systems are more complicated than others, but can we move on to other ways of breaking down our description of QBs please?" Meanwhile, the running quarterback Kaepernick (who is giving defensive coordinators nightmares game-planning against his ability to run) stayed in the pocket and won the game.
Later that evening, after the Ravens/Patriots game, I thought to myself, "Luckily none of the Patriots are god-fearing men as faithful as Ray Lewis, or this game would have lasted forever and ever." Years would've passed us by, with thousands of quarters being played until both teams were crowned eternal champions. "No weapon formed against [us] shall prosper." Then I thought, “I wish I could've been a fly on the wall wherever Giselle was watching the game when Wes Welker dropped that first down pass.” I contemplated, "Is it more disappointing to get to the AFC Championship game or Super Bowl and lose a bunch of times or to never make the playoffs at all?” Lastly I thought, hey, Joe Flacco might just be an elite quarterback and Ray Lewis might not have the Lord's Skype information (but he's probably received some text messages at some point…).
With the SuperBaugh/HarBowl/BroBowl secured, I started staring off into space as I heard the Harlem Boys Choir sing with the lovely accompaniment of a harps and string arrangements, and I began to reminisce…
It was a Friday, 2:45 pm, and my eyes were darting back and forth from my history book up to my teacher's desk to see if she was looking, then up to the second hand on the clock (Tick, pause, tick, pause, tick). Why did time seem to move in slow motion during last period? I sat in the back of the swelteringly hot classroom. It was so hot that you could hear when kids who wore shorts tried to lift their legs from the surface of their chairs…so hot, in fact, that once when I tried to steal a glance at the time, the clock morphed into a Salvador Dali painting. I quickly shook my head to make the image disappear. When the bell rang, I popped up like a jack in the box and stuffed my books in my backpack. Today was one the most pivotal and monumental moments in my lifetime – perhaps the pinnacle of my existence. I snatched my Primatene Mist from my bag, took a couple of sprays and ran home. My parents weren't scheduled to be home until evening. This meant that I'd be playing an away game! The arena would switch from my home court (aka my bedroom) to the forbidden world famous living room, equipped with a glass chandelier that reminded me of the scoreboard at MSG and wall-to-wall paneling which made it extremely easy to stick the Puff Basketball rim on the wall. I had been practicing my drop step and turnaround fadeaway all week. Today was the day I would finally defeat my older brother. My pre game dietary nutrition probably consisted of a Kit Kat, Bon Ton potato chips and a Sunkist orange soda. I guess those were my PEJS (performance enhancing junk food). You haven't experienced a rivalry until you've engaged in the gut-wrenching, blood-spilling, teeth-pulling, bone-breaking competition of the sibling variety.
When my brother walked into the arena, I had already changed into my lucky, tattered Knicks t-shirt. "Let's go right now," I said, "best 2 out of 3." I won the first game easily. My bank shot practice had paid off. The second game was an epic battle during which halfway through I needed a time out to use my inhaler, but that wouldn't stop me. No one had more than a two-point lead for the entire game. I managed to score, making it a one-point game with a Kareem sky-hook that barely made it over my brother’s outstretched fingers. With one basket to go, I became overwhelmed with the excitement of finally beating my older brother in a three game series on his home court. I was determined to go hard in the paint for the final shot. As I drove the lane and went in for a reverse lay up, his elbow caught my nose. I bounced off the wall and fell to the floor. I could see several beautiful canaries flying around my head. They were very pretty and nice to me. One even asked me if I was okay. It felt like my nose was broken but it wasn't. I called another timeout to stick some tissue in my nose to stop the bleeding. I was too dizzy to drive again, so I shot a step-back trifecta. Whether from that shot I took to the head or divine intervention, I heard Marv Albert scream, "YES AND IT COUNTS!"
Finally, I had beaten him. Looking back at it he probably let up on me a little and let me win my first series. By then he had more important things to think about, like girls. More importantly, when my father came home and saw all the dirt, grease stains and handprints on the ceiling from us swiping during the game, he gave my brother the ass whipping of a lifetime. Me, well I just went upstairs and watched cartoons. Hee hee, I guess that's what older brothers are for.
…Speaking of which I can't wait to watch the HarBowl.