Super Bowl Preview: Legendary implications, a home-field advantage and Edinboro events

Category:  Sports
Friday, February 5th, 2021 at 2:33 PM
Super Bowl Preview: Legendary implications, a home-field advantage and Edinboro events by Terrique Johnson
Photo: Pexels.com

There’s been a lot of battles, but this will be your favorite one. There’s been some tough games, but this will be a crazy one. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?! The stage is set, the lights will be brightest, and while COVID-19 tried to steal the spotlight, the gridiron stars prevailed as we get set for the 2021 Super Bowl.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Tom Brady and the team’s 9th ranked defense, will become the first team to host a Super Bowl on their home field, facing Kansas City, led by Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Kansas City will be looking to repeat as champs following their 31-20 victory over San Francisco last season.

Tale of the tape

Making it to the Super Bowl is a tall task. Football, the ultimate team sport, has seen some of its greatest players and biggest stars (Barry Sanders, Tony Gonzalez, and many more) never make it to the big game. Meanwhile, sixth round pick turned superstar Tom Brady is about to lace up for his 10th Super Bowl in 21 years. Brady is more likely to make it to the Super Bowl (47.6% chance) than Lakers great Kobe Bryant was to make a shot (44.5%) or Yankees legend Babe Ruth was to get on base (47.3%). Brady, 45, in his first year in Tampa, led the Bucs through the regular season by throwing 40 touchdowns, second most in his illustrious career. He has help from a superstar receiving core, featuring four guys who have caught more than 80 passes and gained over 1,300 receiving yards in a season at least once in their careers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski). And with a top 10 defense led by linebackers Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett, the Bucs defeated Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers on their road to the Super Bowl.

The defending champions, meanwhile, simply know how to win. They have also tasted the bitterness of losing to Brady. Kansas City haven’t lost a game in the postseason since the 2018-19 AFC Championship game where they fell in overtime, 37-31, to the New England Patriots…led by Tom Brady. Since that loss, Kansas City is 30-4 when their $450 million man Mahomes plays (playoffs included) and are headed back to the big game. Unlike the Bucs, the core of the offensive star power for Kansas City is homegrown with Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Mecole Hardman, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all being draft picks. Then there is head coach Andy Reid, who just became the first head coach to lead his team to three consecutive championship games in both the NFC and AFC. The only problem is that he’s 3-4 in those championship games and only has one Lombardi trophy. Reid is sixth all-time with 221 wins, and sixth in winning percentage (63.1%) for coaches that have coached 20+ years. Super Bowl wins is the only thing stopping Reid from being in the “best coach of all time” conversation. With Reid’s arsenal of weapons on the field, and Eric Bieniemy and Steve Spagnuolo coordinating his offense and defense from the sidelines, he is in prime position to pick up that second ring.

Legendary implications

Tom Brady has already cemented his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time to the majority of the sports world. Nevertheless, he has some doubters and naysayers. “Brady has always been the beneficiary of a stout defense,” said die-hard Peyton Manning fan and sports analyst Robert Hunter. The Bucs defense is above average (ninth ranked) and has played lights out this playoffs, but make no mistake about it, the team runs on Brady’s offense. Brady threw the second most touchdowns this year, the second most passing yards, and had the third-highest scoring offense. To beat Mahomes and his No. 1 rated offense, Brady will have to bring it. With a win, Brady will stretch his record of most Super Bowl wins to seven (three more than any other quarterback). Add that to him having the most passing touchdowns in NFL history and the second most passing yards in league history. If there was any question as to who the greatest quarterback is … you better Google that man.

Mahomes is already the richest football player ever (by contract, at least). If you haven’t watched him play, 10 minutes of film study would validate that deal ($450 million). I truly believe we could be looking at the Michael Jordan of football when watching Mahomes. From his 50-touchdown season (tied for second most … with Brady) in only his second year as a starter, to competing in his second Super Bowl in only his third year as a starter, to his off-hand throws, no-look passes and his ultra-impressive 44-9 record (6-1 in the playoffs), Mahomes has done everything right to be the projected heir to the throne that Brady currently has. What better way to be the “GOAT” than to beat the “GOAT.” Mahomes will have that opportunity Sunday.

Did I mention? Both teams are stacked! Both teams have a top 10 defense, and both teams have top five offenses in most statistical categories. This is ‘80s Lakers and Celtics, 2000s Yankees and Red Sox, Marvel’s “Civil War,” Goku versus Vegeta. You catch my drift. This can potentially be the most historic Super Bowl in modern history. Get your popcorn ready!

Game time tidbits

— The game will feature two black offensive coordinators for the first time in Super Bowl history: Eric Bieniemy for Kansas City and Byron Leftwich for Tampa Bay. Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was the coordinator for the New York Giants in the 2007-08 season when they beat the Tom Brady-led 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

— The Buccaneers will be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl on their home field. When there’s a big play at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs usually fire off ship cannons. In an attempt to make this as neutral as possible, the NFL has banned Tampa from letting off those cannons until the completion of the game. Bucs representatives responded by saying: "The firing of the cannons after big plays is a tradition that defines what it means to be a Buccaneer fan and serves as a signature element of our home game experience at Raymond James Stadium. However, we also acknowledge and understand the NFL's position with regards to maintaining the integrity of a neutral site atmosphere for Super Bowl LV.”

— A big portion of Kansas City's starting roster was in jeopardy of missing this game! Back-up center Daniel Kilgore was in the middle of a haircut when coaches pulled him from the chair after it was revealed the team barber tested positive for COVID-19. More than 20 players were scheduled to have their hair cut, including Mahomes. Kilgore and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson were placed on the COVID list, meaning they aren’t eligible to practice, but they can return to the team in time for the Super Bowl if they can test negative for COVID five consecutive days.

The teams matched up earlier this season at Raymond James Stadium. Kansas City edged them out, 27-24, behind 3 touchdown passes from Mahomes and a historic night from Hill. The receiver totaled 200 yards in the first quarter, becoming only the third player to ever have 200 receiving yards in a quarter, and the first ever to do it in the first quarter.

What's happening at the 'Boro?

Usually, the Pogue Student Center would be packed with students enjoying the game together. The bad news is, due to COVID-19 protocols, we’ll have to celebrate a little different. The good news is the food court will be offering FREE FOOD from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on game day courtesy of the University Programming Board. Be sure to bring your student ID to get your box of "chicken tenders, chicken wing dip, chips, cookies, and a drink." In addition, they'll be hosting "commercial bingo" during the game over Zoom. 

The campus fitness center will also be hosting a Super Bowl prop contest. You can win a free gift card and T-shirt if you can predict the game's standouts. Registration for the prop contest ends at 10 a.m. on Sunday. For more information on all events, check EngageEU in your MyEdinboro portal. 

Terrique Johnson is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: nfl, football

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