Cumberland Times-News

February 2, 2013

Pitchers and catchers report in eight days

Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

— This Harbaugh thing hasn’t been what I thought it would be. Although, truth be told, I rarely follow the Super Bowl week hype because, even with my favorite team in the big game, it’s all just too much to digest. On top of that, who cares?

Sure, I know all that’s been reported about the final game and the wildlife excursions of Ray Lewis. I’ve heard and seen enough to know that if President Obama had a son ... He doesn’t. Moving on. And if I hear Mike Greenberg say “Jets”, or somebody question Joe Flacco’s value one more time, I am going to become ill. As the stadium broadcaster in “A League of Their Own” said, “Take me home and put me to bed! I have seen enough to know I have seen too much!”

 Just watch the game, man.

Having said that, from what I have allowed myself to take in, the reporting seems to be pretty balanced for both the Ravens and the 49ers, which kind of makes sense since the head coaches of the teams in this Super Bowl (just in case you hadn’t heard) are brothers.

Face it, entering Super Bowl week, that was the hype dynamic I feared most would come gushing out of my ears and eye sockets by Wednesday, but that hasn’t been the case.

Truth is, it really is a great story. It’s all just so feel-good, who couldn’t appreciate it? It’s, obviously, a family story, and who here among us isn’t a sucker for “Family Guy”? But it's also, at the risk of sounding Norman Rockwell or Frank Capra, an All-American story — a story of love, loyalty, family, football, hard work and reaping what you sow. That’s about as American as it gets.

So good for the Harbaughs. Who has it better than them? And may the better team win tonight, which, I’m afraid to say, is going to be Jim Harbaugh’s team, the 49ers.

I don’t say this because I was actually voted playoff shares by the Fort Hill Sentinels for picking Allegany to beat them twice, or because the Ravens should do the same thing for my picking them to lose five of their last eight games, including the last two in the playoffs. I say this because I believe the 49ers, not only are the better team, but, depending on their pass rush and their secondary, they just seem to have too much for the Ravens, no matter how driven the Ravens are, and no matter how well they have been playing of late.

I think it will be a close game, which, I figure, is why beleaguered veteran 49ers kicker David Akers keeps popping into my head. Randy Moss does, too, for that matter. Ever since he said he believed he was the greatest receiver of all time, and then just clammed up, it felt ominous from the Ravens’ side of things.

And by the way, if Randy Moss wants to believe he’s the greatest receiver in history, why is that a crime? If that’s what he needs to believe, so be it. Who died and made Jerry Rice the Mona Lisa anyway?

Of course Jerry Rice was one of the greatest receivers of all time, if not the greatest. But hair begins to grow on my knuckles (ears, eye sockets, knuckles ... I’m having a tough column) when I hear Rice may be “the greatest player of all time.”

Really? Tell that to Jim Brown. Or, better yet, tell that to Sam Huff, who spent a lifetime chasing and tackling Jim Brown.

Other than Super Bowl 3 being fixed, that is the major beef I have with the Super Bowl. Many would have us believe pro football didn’t exist before the Packers played the Chiefs on Jan. 15, 1967 in what was initially called the AFL–NFL World Championship Game.

Should the 49ers win Super Bowl 47 today, that would lead many of us to believe they will have tied the Steelers for the most NFL championships in history. No, it would tie the 49ers with the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins.

The Green Bay Packers have won 13 NFL titles, four more than any other team, which is why Green Bay is known as Titletown.

And quarterbacks? Don’t get me started on quarterbacks. Tom Brady? Peyton Manning? The greatest quarterback ever? Please. For my money, the greatest modern-day quarterback has been Joe Montana, and I’d certainly put him in the all-time best conversation. But what of Sammy Baugh, who, along with Jim Brown, might have been one of the two best football players, period, to ever play the game?

Otto Graham? John Unitas? Bart Starr? Terry Bradshaw? Roger Staubach? Fran Tarkenton? John Elway? Sid Luckman, like Bradshaw and Montana, was the quarterback of four NFL championship teams — Bart Starr, five. But none of them ever go to the ESPYs, so they obviously didn’t exist.

Honestly, can you see any of the aforementioned men sliding to avoid a tackle, while at the same time trying to kick the would-be tackler in the, um ... heart of his baseball strike zone?

Of course, if any of them had, the NFL would have fined him $500 less than it fined a player for wearing his socks too low, right?

Today’s NFL is the single greatest entity in the history of mankind. This I know, for Trey Wingo tells me so.

By the way, Unitas was the best quarterback who ever lived.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com