Congratulations to the Indy Colts. I'm sure the good folks at Stampede Blue are having a lot of fun today. As a lifelong Patriots fan, I can tell you: enjoy it. If you get another one, even next year, it won't be as much fun as the first.
The rest of us (even Pats fans, who I can tell you are really pissed off about all this) can take great solace in knowing, 1) that the national distraction of the Super Bowl is behind us, and 2) that Cycling kicks ass over the Super Bowl. Here goes nuthin...
- Football players may be tough by civilian standards, but compared to Cyclists?? Nobody in Cycling would ever bat an eyelash at a guy banging his thumb and bending his thumbnail backwards. It wouldn't even be reported. At the Super Bowl, it's worth a few replays of the frightening thumbnail-bending incident. Remember how Boonen gashed his hand in Dreidaags de Panne 2005, right before turning the Flanders-Roubaix double? Didn't think so.
- The Colts now depart for five months of vacation. Loser teams get more like six months before putting pads on again. Cyclists have a name for vacation: November. And by that I mean the first half of it.
- The fans. Not to be too self-serving (I am, after all, a distant, indoor blogger type). But why must the Super Bowl always be played in warm, non-threatening environs? OK, so the players will go where they're told, so you can't blame them. But the fans? Check the roadside of Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders and you'll find half a nation of people who don't give a fla-hoot how cold or wet it is. As for the Tour... football fans are inspired to eat nachos, Tour fans are inspired to climb Alpe d'Huez by bike.
- Steroids will net you a month off in football. Cycling may have its problems, but at least the sport isn't completely in denial. Anymore.
- Cycling may use instant replays, but they don't stop the race for five minutes to do so.
- A little rain? Whatever.
- Is it me, or did yesterday's game feel pretty much like a regular-season game? After the first fourteen seconds, it didn't really seem like anything "special" happened. And this is the sport's biggest game?
- Along similar lines, the Super Bowl has a rep for being a letdown, lopsided affairs and all that. People openly acknowledge that the conference championships are usually better games. And ESPN calls the divisional round the NFL's best weekend. Has Flanders ever let us down? Do people whisper that the Tour de Suisse is usually more exciting than the Tour de France?
- I wouldn't trade places with a single NFL player, except maybe a kicker. I'm happy to watch, but it doesn't look even slightly fun to be out there. Yet I'd give anything to be able to carry water bottles to Carlos Sastre for a day. Well, almost anything.
- Not knocking the Colts, they earned it. But does anyone wonder what would've been if they'd drawn San Diego on the road, rather than conveniently avoiding them when the Patriots took down the league's "best team"? Many a year football is plagued by speculation about the matchups that didn't happen.
On April 8, barring any truly serious injuries, the following riders will line up at the Ronde: Boonen, Hoste, Bettini, Hincapie, Pozzato, Cancellara, Ballan, Flecha, Gilbert, Nuyens, Van Petegem, Steegmans, and so on. By evening, there will be no wondering who the strongest rider was.