It's the day of the Super Bowl and we just experienced our fourth two-point road loss of the season. Does anyone really want to talk basketball? Me neither.
Instead, I'll use this space to address NFL fandom in Kentucky, where I want to see the current football Wildcats end up on draft day(s), and my thoughts on the Super Bowl. I'll then solicit your opinions on those very same topics and we'll have a nice, little, football-filled Sunday.
1. Being an NFL fan in Kentucky is an interesting thing. There are obviously a number of fans in the Bluegrass State, but without a team here, allegiances are across the board. Even some states like Mississippi and Louisiana (when the Saints were atrocious) could latch onto a native son in Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. That's not the case for us, though. So you've got a lot of people rooting for the historically successful teams. I'm sure that many Kentucky-born NFL fans will be invested in the game tonight because of the historical significance of both teams playing. When you're young and picking a favorite team, the most prominent ones are most often the first chosen. There haven't been any NFL franchises more prominent than the Packers and Steelers. On the same thread, my uncle is a Bears fan. He started rooting for them when he was a kid because the Bears were a familiar team to him and he's been passionate ever since, and that's ok in Kentucky. Sometimes fans base their rooting interest on geographic proximity. The Titans and Colts are popular picks in that regard. The Bengals are also close to Kentucky and happen to be the team that I chose to cast my lot with. Being a UK fan and a Bengals fan is great! After you get let down by the Wildcats on Saturday, the numbing effect of your shattered expectations for UK makes watching the Bengals' subsequent Sunday loss much more bearable. We may never have a team that we can call Kentucky's own, but the passionate love of football makes Kentucky a melting pot of NFL rooting interests.
2. We've got two UK players going to the combine this year in Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke. As a Bengals fan, I'd love to see them up in Cincinnati, but as a UK fan, I'd love to see them experience success in their careers. I think that Randall could be a great fit up in New England. Bill Belichick knows how to get the most out of hard-working players with diverse skill sets and I think he could help Randall flourish. Randall can play that slot receiver, he can return kicks, he can line up as a running back and carry the ball and he can even throw it. With his winning attitude, he'd be a valuable addition to a Patriots team with an aging receiving corps. As for Derrick, he won't go nearly as high as Randall but he benefits from a strong Senior Bowl showing, blazing fast speed and the NFL fad of running back by committee. I'd like to see him on a team like the Rams. They have a surefire number one in Steven Jackson but he's taken a lot of wear and tear in his years. Derrick could come in as a third down back and return man. The Rams are a young team on the rise with a future star in Sam Bradford and would benefit by adding a quick and elusive back with good hands out of the backfield to spell Jackson.
3. There's a pretty big football game tonight featuring a couple of teams that I wouldn't mind adding some UK players to their rosters. The Steelers and the Packers are just franchises that have done it right. Their ownership and management works well with the coaches and the players and it pays off. I will be rooting for the Packers to win because they have Tim Masthay. I'll also be rooting for his kicks to hit the video board multiple times and for many fake punts, 2006 Music City Bowl style. I'll throw out my prediction as 28-21 Packers. Green Bay scores the go ahead touchdown with four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Masthay bobbles the snap and scrambles for a 67 yard touchdown run on 4th and 15. Mark it down.
So there's a little fun football talk on a lazy Super Bowl Sunday. Feel free to add your two cents. Why do you support your team? Where do you want to see our current Cats end up? What's your Super Bowl prediction? What's the score of the Ohio State-Minnesota game? Any and all comments are welcomed.